What is your decision to pursue medicine

The specialization in medical studies: This is what aspiring specialists need to know


Image: from monolyth. Source: Photocase


Why specialize at all?

In Germany every medical professional who wants to practice the profession of doctor has to specialize. This is the only way to obtain authorization to practice as a contract doctor or to work in a medical facility. Anyone who decides against training as a specialist remains a doctor in training. Of course, there are also some opportunities to work in medicine after practicing, but specialist training is inevitable for the direct treatment of patients or diseases.

When do I have to specialize?

The specialization in a subject area only takes place after the medical degree has been completed. That is, students are not forced to make a momentous decision before they have an in-depth look at the medical profession. The medical course usually lasts 12 semesters, followed by the license to practice medicine and only then can you choose a specialty.

This decision should be made thoughtfully and well-founded, but if necessary you can also change specialist training if it turns out that a chosen specialization was not the right one after all. Most of the time you can see the previousTraining times can even be credited, because in fact a change of subject is completely normal.

The specialist training - hard facts

A specialist training is to be equated with the internship in a medical institution. In Germany, this advanced training takes five to six years, depending on the subject, and ends with the specialist examination. More can hardly be summarized in general, since the training to become a specialist, unlike studying medicine, is not standardized nationwide. The state medical associations of the individual federal states determine the further training regulations autonomously. Although these are closely based on the (model) further training regulations of the German Medical Association, they differ in the details. Accordingly, it makes sense to inquire about the contents of the respective further training regulations at the relevant state medical association before starting the specialist training.

In general, it corresponds to the guidelines of all federal states that the specialist training may only be completed after completing the medical training and only at a registered further training facility. The latter means that a medical institution must have a further training license from the Medical Association in order to train young doctors to become specialists. Information on this can also be obtained from the medical associations.

Avoid stumbling blocks on the way to the specialist examination

As a young medical professional, when it is time to make a decision on a specialty, there are other points that should be taken into account in addition to personal preferences. The size of the clinic and how long you can stay there also play a role. Because not every clinic and not every head physician is allowed to train assistant doctors without restrictions.

The medical association determines which doctor is allowed to train for how long and, in principle, of course, how long the internship lasts in individual subjects. It is extremely important to find out at an early stage how long a chief physician has been authorized to provide further training. If you cannot stay in the clinic until the specialist examination, it must also be clarified where the training can be continued.

It is helpful that many clinics operate a fixed rotation system with other clinics. This makes it possible to complete the entire training course without complicated job changes.

The requirements for an assistant doctor

The life of an assistant doctor is no picnic, because the training regulations require a lot of effort in the form of diagnostic and surgical interventions. There are also visits to special events.

In order to acquire detailed and comprehensive knowledge in a certain specialist area, it is advisable to complete the training period with as many different head physicians as possible. The doctor authorized to carry out further training should always be asked to put together a structured program for his assistant doctors before the start of further training. This makes it much easier to get an overview of the requirements. In case of doubt, the annual meetings provided for in the further training regulations can be used to discuss progress and possible deficits in further training.

Specific skills in terms of teamwork, organizational talent and resilience are specifically encouraged and expected. Medical knowledge, on the other hand, is imparted from the bottom up, i.e. a doctor at the beginning of his internship will not be allowed to operate on an open heart immediately and must first master easier tasks and prove himself with regard to the basics before he is given more difficult tasks.

An end is in sight - the specialist examination

Once an assistant doctor has passed his training, he faces another hurdle: the specialist examination. Of course, no one is admitted to this final exam just like that, a few requirements must be met and some documents must be submitted. In general, this includes a minimum of certain, independently performed examinations and, in some specialties, also operations. In addition, the training doctor must certify the prospective specialist's qualification as a specialist. Last but not least, the examinee himself must belong to the State Medical Association.

If these requirements are met, the resident doctor to be examined can register for the examination. He has time to do so at least two months before the exam. To register, the job references of all training centers including the number of examinations and the logbook of the training content must be submitted at a personal appointment. Finally, the invitation to the examination will be sent by post.

The assistant doctor is examined orally by a committee of usually three specialists and an examination chairman. The specialist examination usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes. There is no grade. The only thing that matters here is whether the test item passed or not.

If you fail, the exam can also be repeated. An application must be made for this and, if necessary, the examiners set certain requirements that must be met before the examination can be taken again.

How to Get Better Grades in Medical Studies! Improve Your Exam Results! Learn with the free learning coaching for medical professionals:
✔ Effective learning techniques
✔ Individual assistance
✔ Application examples for everyday life