In this article, we give tips to foreign doctors on how to improve CV for a successful medical career in Germany. We divided the tips into things you can do before or after coming to Germany. Some tips, however, could be done both before and after coming to Germany.
Trying to improve CV is step number 2 of the 10 steps to start a medical residency in Germany.
🩺 Improve CV before coming to Germany:
• Learn a lot of German & get at least the B2 level
This is the most important criterion and the most important thing you could do everywhere! Learn to speak and write very well in German. All other factors are much less significant. But please be careful: It could be that you speak very good German, but if you do not have at least a B2 level certificate, you would not get easily invitations for job interviews or training. Certificates are very significant in Germany. We recommend getting a C1 level certificate. It is not hard. The C2 certificate is very hard, but is thanks to God very rarely requested. I have been living and working in Germany since 2014, have hundreds of contacts, and I have never seen a foreign doctor with a C2 certificate. 😅
On the other hand, do not count that having certificates will somehow be an alternative to your really speaking good German. Even if you sent in your application your beautiful C1 certificate, within one or three minutes in a small talk in the interview, one could discover your “real” German level. The certificates do not reflect sometimes the real German language level.
During interviews, one can give the impression that he speaks better German than he really does. This along with other tips for interviews for medical doctors are explained in the following article:
Still not convinced? Here is a fictional example
Take the following example: You apply for a job. You speak German in C1 level and have already gathered clinical experience in Germany. Another applicant for the same job is the top student in your batch; whose marks are way higher than yours. He is nonetheless not talented in learning languages and only learned to the B2 level. Moreover, he does not have German friends and cannot understand colloquial/everyday German. So, theoretically, you can start immediately with the work and your friend still needs to learn how to take history in German 🥳 and speak proper German. Whom they will take? Congratulations! You!
• Start learning the German medical language
Your main goals from learning German are:
- To pass a general language exam (at least B2 level to apply for the Approbation) (Article: Documents to apply for the Approbation)
- To pass the medical language exam (Fachsprachenprüfung – FSP)
- To be able to work with what you learned
After finishing the basic German language courses, start concentrating on learning medical vocabulary and so indirectly preparing for the FSP and the work. How can you achieve that?
• Try to hear medical podcasts, read medical news in German, watch medical documentaries, see short YouTube videos related to health and medicine, follow medical doctors in social networks, etc.
• Make yourself familiar with what is tested in this exam so that you know what is to learn exactly in German. Here you can see real exam reports.
• Try reading medical books in German. Many words are similar to English because they have similar Greek or Latin origins.
• Read our detailed article about the preparation for the FSP:
• Learn how to draw blood (using butterflies) and how to insert cannulas
These are mostly the tasks of the residents in most hospitals. So, be careful to learn that well before coming here. Being able to insert cannulas very well will make the nurses love you 😍😍💘💘
• Contacts! This is very important in Germany
So, if a colleague of yours works in your dream specialty, ask them to recommend you to the head of the department ( der Chefarzt). You can then get a Hospitation or even a job.
If you do not have such friends, try to get them! You can do that by visiting congresses or more surely and effectively in groups on Facebook or Telegram; like ours 😊 Everything is for free. Here is a list of groups for “all” medical specialties in Germany. The membership is free and will remain free. Through the groups, you can interact with residents/specialists doing the specialty you like 🥳
Having connections can save you a lot of time in sending E-Mails, making phone calls, traveling, and losing money. We wrote therefore a detailed article about the topic:
• Visit congresses and medical events related to your dream specialty
- Here you can learn about the specialty. Maybe you will change your opinion about it? Moreover, you get to know about new studies and advancements in that field, which can help you to impress the doctors during an interview or medical training ( eine Hospitation).
- You will have the chance to directly speak to heads of departments and ask for an interview or that you come for a training ( Hospitation) for a few days. Firstly, before talking to a Chefarzt, read about him and his publications (mostly they did/do research). Show them that you are interested in their research/reputation.
- Meet residents and make new friends.
- If you write in your CV, that you visited many conferences/medical events related to a certain specialty, this is a big indication that you are interested in it.
Here is how you can find medical events in Germany (many are for free):
• Start learning in “German” for your dream specialty
You can start by buying a small book. So, you can get to know what you are aiming for (again, maybe you will change your mind). Secondly, during an interview/training in a hospital, you might get asked medical questions (but do not be afraid, this is rather seldom). Or, if you are in a medical event and the head of the department held a lecture, you could ask him as “good” question in front of everyone🧠😎 (I did that once and the German doctor in the congress in my home country wanted then to help me get visa und training).
Please use German books. This will improve your language, and the German guidelines are different that others in the world. More importantly, by writing patients discharge letters, you can cite the guidelines.
• Voluntary work
If you have enough time before coming to Germany, then volunteering (🇩🇪 eine ehrenamtliche Arbeit) in international organizations could be a good thing too (for example, Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, Operation Smile, etc.). Through such activities, you might get to meet German doctors, who could later help you in getting training or a job in Germany. Or, simply, you could ask them for a recommendation letter ( Empfehlungsschreiben).
This is a common misconception. Before I came to Germany, I thought that research is the key to improve CV and to success as a medical doctor in Western countries. However, I discovered quickly in Germany that it is not; at least in non-university hospitals.
If you are already in your sixth year of medical school or already graduated, investing time in learning German is 1000 times better than doing research! Sure! Even in University hospitals, which are basically almost the only hospitals that care about research. University hospitals need from you a high knowledge of the German language because the workload there is much higher than in normal hospitals. So, even if you had a lot of publications, this is not enough because you need firstly to finish the work in the wards and do the shifts before doing the research in your free time.
Plus, in many third-world countries, research seldom results in publications in peer-reviewed and high-impact factor journals. Moreover, some say that medical journals not indexed in PubMed are not worth publishing in.
So please, learn German! This is the most important thing that could dramatically improve your CV! Learning to withdraw blood and place cannulas is more significant than research! Sorry to say this! But hospitals here search firstly for someone who can do the work expected from a resident, then comes research!
• Keep up to date about the recent news about working as a doctor in Germany
We recommend following groups in socical networks (see the links to our groups at the end of this page). Moreover, go to the groups and simply read hundreds of old posts. This might save you later on a lot of time. For example, some do not know that they can get tax returns if they keep all of the bills for books, translation, and tickets for job interviews. Alone if you knew this information before coming to Germany, you can start collecting these bills as soon as you arrive. For each 1000 Euros you paid, you get like 400 Euros back. Normally, doctors have costs of like 5000 Euros for such things before starting their residency. We are talking now about tax returns of about 2000 Euros!
🩺 Improve CV after coming to Germany:
• Try to do a medical training in a hospital (eine Hospitation)
• Beginning a medical residency in Germany is per se (alone) the most important factor to improve CV
So, instead of waiting months for your dream position in neurosurgery, begin a residency in general surgery. This is no lost time because:
- You can get 6–12 months recognized in the 6 years residency program of neurosurgery.
- You get to improve your language. This is many times better than studying in a language school or alone 😖
- You are going to be familiar with the system and how you can take care of patients.
- You earn a normal salary during this period
- You would not have any problems with prolonging your visa.
- Last but not least, if married, you can bring your wife/husband and children to Germany 🥳
• During your vacations, you might make a training (eine Hospitation) in the department of your dream specialty
Please note: it would be probably a bad thing when your current hospital knows that you are now training in your free time in a department for neurosurgery, although you have been telling them that you want to be a psychiatrist.
• Get good employee reference letters (die Arbeitszeugnisse)
So, even if you are a psychiatrist and want to be really a neurosurgeon, the new hospital will be interested to read what has been written in your reference letters. Moreover, they could simply call your current hospital and ask about your behavior! Legally, your current employer may not tell them or write anything bad about you. However, through connections, they might know that. Moreover, there are secret sentences and phrases, that when written in your reference letters, those who read them will notice that you did not do a good job. Compare that with having a reference letter full of positive sentences about you and your hard work😊
At the end, it is important to mention, that some specialties remain hard to get and you need to do a lot for that. 😥 For example, Dermatology!
Want to learn more? Questions?
Join JETZT (🇺🇸 now) all of our groups & ask what you like
(On mobile phone: The links are at the end of this page/ On PC: On the right side)
• Further readings:
• “How to survive the first half-year in Germany working as a doctor? “, Helena Mamić – Soprano website (Foreign doctor in Germany from Croatia), link.