• Why is it important to know these factors?
If you understood these factors, then you can avoid them 🥳🥳🥳 It is that easy! You can then finish the residency period on time. By the way, the durations for residencies of all medical specialties in Germany are here:
• What decides everything?
To be able to fully understand this article, please invest less than two minutes reading the following article about what decides about the whole residency period (🇩🇪 die Facharztausbildung):
• The factors
• Jumping between different specialties
If you change medical specialties, the old rotation times could not be recognized. For example, if you got a burnout after doing a neurosurgery residency for three years, started questioning the aim of life and hence chose to change to psychiatry, only 6 months of this period could be recognized for the psychiatry residency.
• Jumping between hospitals
If you remained less than 3 to 6 months in a certain department/hospital (for whatever reason), than this period is not recognized for the residency period. Moreover, some hospitals are small or highly specialized (for example, they do only spinal surgery or psychiatry) and you cannot do your total residency there. Therefore, you need to change the hospital to be able to finish the requirements of the log book.
• Not doing enough diagnostic investigations and operations
As we explained in the above article, there are certain numbers of investigations/operations to be done. If a doctor was only doing night shifts and work in the wards, then in many cases no one would be asking you to do what is required in the log book. Then your residency period will be lengthened until you finish all what is required from you. Some heads of the department might make some little exceptions, but this is not the general rule and this of course not legal.
• Waiting for your place in a certain rotation
This is especially a problem in university hospitals. There are usually big departments and fixed rotations to do certain things. For example, I know a neurology department in a university hospital with more than 35 residents. However, only two residents could learn EEG or do doppler exams every 6 months. This means, you might wait 6 years until you get your place. Moreover, for some specialties (e. g. general surgery, internal medicine), they need to do a six- or 12-month-rotation in the ICU. A friend of mine was in a hospital where the head of anesthesia required him to do at least 1 year in his department (although my friend needed only 6 months!).
In other cases, you need to change hospitals to do a certain rotation (for example, psychiatry year). For this doctors need to find a new job and this could cause a loss of months.
• Taking paternal leave
If a woman got a child, she and her husband could take a few months free and take 60% of their salaries. More details about this:
This time took away from work is of course not calculated in the residency period.
• Resignation of the head of department
This is a seldom reason. But if the head of department resigned and his place was empty, then your training period is starting from this period no longer recognized until a new head of department comes.
• Refusal of the head of department to sign your log book
Some heads of departments will tell their residents that they are still not fit enough to do the board exams or that they need to learn more of certain investigations. Legally, it is not “that” allowed, but it could happen. The head of department could tell you, you cannot do good sonography, so you need at least 50 more. This is actually a problem in hospitals where residents cannot prove how much exactly they did from certain investigations.
• Missing or not accurate documentation in the log book
Sometimes you finish your residency in the given period, but when you send yourapplication papers and log book to the medical association, they find mistakes (like a document without a date, missing numbers, not mentioning if you worked full time “without interruptions”, not mentioning if you did a certain rotation, etc.). They are exact in their control! To make the corrections, you then need to contact your old hospital and then send the log book to them (or better go yourself). Of course, some need to travel hours to the old hospital, not to mention getting an appointment with the head of department or his/her successor; if the old one resigned or retired).
To avoid such problems with your documents, some medical associations allow that you send your old log books and employee’s reference letters to them a few months before the end of your residency period. Call them first before you send the documents. At your place, I would send authenticated copies too (🇩🇪 beglaubigte Kopien) from a notary (🇩🇪 Notar); so that the original documents do not get lost!
• You can apply for the exam only after end of the residency period
I had this problem. In some medical associations, you can apply for the board exam only after the end of the residency period (in my case in was 5 years). So, I could only do the exam three months after that.
🇩🇪 Das ist doof = 🇺🇸 This is stupid
• Waiting period for an exam appointment
In some medical associations, doctors need to wait months for their appointment for the board exam.
• Work-life balance and the beauty of Germany and Europe
Some start to enjoy the life here and think in terms of work-life balance (after studying in medical school for 20 hours a day! 😂). Therefore, they do not plan well their rotations or do the investigations required from them. I had a Jordanian collage who took a paternal leave for 1 year! Therefore, the duration of his residency period was lengthened by 1 year. No problem, he enjoyed a paid holiday for 1 year in Jordan eating Mansaf (a popular meal there)! 😂
• Do not worry!
With good planning and with your knowing the above factors, you could wisely plan your residency period and avoid surprises. Many residents do finish their residency period on time.
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