Studying Medicine in Germany – Interview with Dr. Udeep

At 19 years of age, Dr Udeep reached Germany to pursue Medical career. He has been there for last 11 years now. Dr Udeep is a graduate of University of Frankfurt who loves swimming, cycling and cooking. Currently he is practicing Medicine in Germany.

Our Crew Interviewed Doctor and are thankful to him for allocating us his valuable time.

How long have you been there?

I came to Germany in June 2005. So it has been 11 years now.

What inspired you to study in Germany?

Actually it was a difficult choice to make back then. Leaving your home country and heading to a foreign country with a completely different language, culture and technology when you were merely a teen at 19 years of age, without any work experience, or even without knowledge of cooking was a big challenge. But the history of excellent education system and yet very affordable University fees were the strengths that attracted me the most.

How did you proceed for admission in College? What was the expenditure during the process?

Actually I was planning to go to USA back then. I even had given my SAT I and II and TOEFL exams and the funny thing is that I wanted to to study mechanical engineering at that time. The application procedures are very long and tedious requiring a lot of patience. But one day, my eyes caught an advertisement about prospects of studying in Germany. Uncertain of how the process in USA would progress, I decided to apply for Germany as well.

By the time I received scholarship papers from USA, I had even completed the visa process for Germany. After that I never looked back.

Application itself was not that expensive at all. Inclusive of 3 months of language course for B1 level and with additional Embassy costs of about Rs. 3000, I think I spent a maximum of about Rs. 30,000 back then. I don’t remember the actual figure right now though. But it was not higher than that. The expensive part was the costs of language classes and living here in Germany. To improve my language skills I joined a year long Language course in Germany for which I was spending about 400 euros per month. Living costs were approximately 500 euros a month. To afford all these, I had to work part time.

university-of-frankfurt

How is the education system teaching approach and course division for bachelor course in Germany?

This is a difficult question to answer. Education system in Germany is very complicated and strict. When I came here, Germany still had 13 classes system after which the students needed to give a nationwide board examination called “Abitur“. Since in Nepal, we have only 12 classes system, I had to cover the 13th class here with a year long integration course called “Studienkolleg“.

In Studienkolleg I had to choose between Medical, Engineering and Economics faculties. Since University of Frankfurt did not offer engineering courses but is very well known in the world for medical faculty, I saw it as an opportunity and decided to pursue it.

Unlike many South Asian countries, Germany does not offer Bachelors and Masters courses for Medicine. Medicine in Germany takes about 7 years to complete with 3 levels of national examinations (state examinations) called “Staatsexamen“.

The first Staatsexamen takes place after successful completion of pre-clinical years which normally takes about two and a half years past-admission. The first Staatsexamen is a combination of Multiple-choice examination examination and Viva. Only those who pass multiple choice examination would qualify for viva and only after passing both of these, one would be qualified to step into the clinical years.

Then there is a three years of clinical studies followed by the second Staatsexamen which is solely a multiple choice examination. If you pass that, then you qualify for a year long internship in which you have to choose 3 faculties and work 4 months each of them. After successfully completing that you qualify for the third Staatsexamen, which is a practical based and viva examination.

For this third examination you have to prepare yourself for the 3 faculties you chose for your internship and an extra faculty of your choice. On the examination day you get a patient. You have to admit him, do check-up and introduce to your examiners. They then ask you questions related and unrelated to you patients, the procedures and therapies. The next day they question you once again everything they want to from their respective faculties. If you can please them, you become a certified physician. Besides all that, the study is comprised of practicals, block-practicals, internships, practical and theoretical exams before you qualify for the second Staatsexamen. Therefore medicine in Germany normally takes a much longer time to complete than you plan for.

After you become a certified physician, your formal education ends there. There is nothing called PG here in Germany. But you do not become a Specialist right away either. After completion of your studies, you are permitted to choose any faculty you want and start working with the title of Assistenzarzt, meaning assistant-physician. Depending upon your faculty and your capacity, it normally takes another 5 years or more before you acquire all the skills necessary for your faculty. After that you have to pass examination taken by the medical council of your state to get the Specialist title called “Facharzt“.

hierarchy-doctor-german

Is language training compulsory? What is the average duration required to learn the language?

Absolutely. Since, German language is the only language here, proficiency in it is a must. Learning a foreign language is a life long process I guess. But to get the basics right, one needs atleast a year and 3 years or more to begin speaking proficiently.

How did you adapt to the environment?

It was very difficult in the beginning. But since I was very young when I first came here, it did not take me that long as well. Though I must admit there are still many things that I still do not fully understand. I guess the teachers, work and friends play a big part in adapting.

What type of degree do they award?

A certified doctor can either get a title of a physician (“Arzt“) or Dr. med title. The latter requires one to participate in a research and successfully defend his thesis. 5 years af ter working in the faculty of your choice, you qualify f or the examination of a Specialist. Once you become a specialist, depending upon your faculty, you may open your own practice. When you work in a hospital, and they get impressed with your excellency in work and proficiency in skills, you may be promoted to ward-chief, and awarded the title “oberarzt“. If the hospital decides to let you take care of the whole faculty, you get the title of “Chefarzt” or the Chief. So in that way, except for the title of general physician, your title is largely experience based.

What is the scope of PG after completing bachelor degree in medicine?

As I have already mentioned earlier, there is no PG system in Germany. If you have completed bachelors degree in Nepal, you have to attest your qualif ication in Germany. The State Medical Council Examination Committee decides if they should accept your qualification.

For more information please check this website.

What are some of your memorable incidents that you enjoyed there?

Good ones or the bad ones? (haha)

The first anatomy practical examination in first semester is still a bad memory. Within 6 weeks of commencement of classes, anatomy examination was conducted and I had just begun to speak few sentences in German language. There were about 600 pages to study (in german language!). I passed the written examination but I did not have courage to go to practical exam. I walked till I reached the door of anatomy hall and I started shaking so much that I turned my back and went home. I was really ashamed of myself that day.

The best memory is when I passed my last Staatsexamen this year, and we partied all night long. I thought I might not see the sunrise, since I had so much alcohol in my blood (haha). Luckily I am still alive.

Are you planning to settle in Germany or planning of returning?

I will be staying in Germany for the foreseeable future. I plan to come back to Nepal someday, but only then when I feel I can really contribute something meaningful. Right now, I have a lot to learn from my German mentors.

Approximately how many Nepali students are pursuing medical education in Germany currently?

I do not know the exact figures. When I first came here, we were only 6 people. There might be about 15-20 Nepalese
studying in Frankfurt university right now. But there aren’t many studying medicine in Germany, but I do not know the official figures.

How is lifestyle and living cost in Germany?

People really give importance to health and sport in Germany. Then do not even hesitate to call the ones with belly as “Lazy” right on your face. Besides, they drink a lots of beer and go to a vacation at every opportunity. Sausages, bread, music and cars make them absolutely crazy.

The current projected minimum costs of living in Germany as per Foreign ministry for Frankfurt is about 800 Euroes a month.

What are the benefits of pursuing medical course in Germany?

  • Up-to date curriculum
  • Learning with finest medical technologies
  • Friendly mentors
  • Affordable University costs of about 400 euroes a semester
  • Free transport tickets for students
  • Good job prospects in future.

What are the disadvantages of pursuing medical course in Germany?

You have to master German language, and it takes a really long time to complete the course. You are allowed to reappear for the exam you flunk only twice more. If you still do not pass, then your career is over not only in that University, but entire Germany. Examinations are very tough and you really should be able to devote lots of your time and patience in your studies.

What are best things about German goverment system that you wish in Nepal government?

Each German state has a State University with a capacity of about 40,000 students. The German government provides its nationals with loans on a monthly basis for the entire span of their studies, given that they maintain high grades. They then get about 15 years time after their studies to pay them back.

They even get such support from their government even if they decide to study abroad. I always wished our Government could help us the same way.

How are people there different there socially, politically in terms of attitude, hard-work, job etc?

Literacy rate here is nearly 100 percent. Laws are very strict here and there is null corruption in bureaucracy. People abide by the rules. People are very hard working but they like to joke a lot as well. Your hard-work is paid normally well and you even get well paid vacations or in case of leave due to illness. Whether they accept you in their circle or not depends on how you communicate with them.

They tend to lose patience quickly if you do not do as you are told.

Are people happy there? What things do see are better in Nepal?

World Happiness Rankings put Germany in the 16th position in 2016. I feel Nepal has a long way to go before we can start comparing these two countries.

The only aspects that I find good in Nepal right now are our easygoing people, food, culture, festivals and some traditions.

Lastly, your concluding words for our readers/students:

No matter how weak our country has been and how poor the governance is, we owe a lot to our motherland. Therefore no matter whatever you plan, please keep in mind that we all have some responsibility for this country. Go abroad, not only for your personal gain, but with that in mind that there remains a lot to be done in our country. I can bet, wherever you go, you will never ever find a place that feels more home than our very own Nepal.

Advice students wishing to come for Bachelors and Masters in Medicine there?

Once again I repeat, we do not have bachelors and masters system for medicine in Germany. Its a single bulk of about 7 years duration. The biggest advice I give everyone is that you have to ace their language first before you plan to come here.

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