View of a desk containing a tablet showing pictures and graphics from the medical sector, a stethoscope and a pen are next to it.
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Healthcare professions

The term “healthcare professions” encompasses all professions and occupations which are connected with the provision of medical, nursing and care services. They involve a multitude of professional activities and tasks. These areas of work are governed differently under the law, and certain prerequisites are in place regarding access to professions and within the recognition procedure.

Although there is a great demand for well trained and motivated specialist staff in the healthcare professions, particular requirements apply in respect of training and knowledge needed. Training and access stipulations in the medical professions are regulated in a standard way right across Germany.

Is it necessary to obtain recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications?

Recognition is mandatory in certain medical professions. Only persons who are in possession of authorisation to practise are permitted to work in these professions. Authorisation to practise may, for example, take the form of a licence to practise medicine (“Approbation”), the issuing of authorisation to practise or permission to use a professional title. In order to obtain the authorisation to practise such a medical profession anywhere in Germany, you will need to demonstrate that you hold standardised qualifications and have completed an examination in accordance with the relevant training or else acquire recognition of your foreign professional qualification. Once a number of other checks have also been made, you will be permitted to work in the profession and use the appropriate title. The above applies to regulated professions that are governed by federal law.

Medical professions for which academic qualifications are required include doctor, dispensing chemist and veterinary surgeon. A degree is needed in order to work in these professions in Germany. Physiotherapist, midwife and midwifery assistant and registered general nurse are examples of German medical professions in which training takes place at vocational schools.

Use of a professional title

Use of a professional title

In all medical professions, professional titles may only be used by persons with an entitlement to do so. This entitlement or authorisation either forms an object of application or else is part of the issuing of authorisation to practise, as is the case when a licence to practise medicine is awarded.

Particular circumstances: Automatic recognition and European Professional Card

In some medical professions, foreign professional qualifications are automatically recognised on application.

The European Professional Card (EPC) procedure can already be launched from abroad for some professions. The European Professional Card represents a further way of applying for recognition. The European Professional Card is available for certain medical professions.

Commercial occupations, auxiliary activities and assistants

The healthcare sector also offers occupations in which the focus is on organisational tasks and on supporting doctors providing treatment. The main emphasis of these occupations is on commercial activity rather than on actually dealing with patients. Such occupations are principally dual training occupations, although they also include continuing training occupations and school-based training programmes. They are regulated by the Federal Government, the federal states or the chambers.

Qualifications include medical assistant, anaesthesia assistant and commercial employee in the pharmaceutical sector.

There are also occupations which involve helping with and supporting the care of the sick and elderly such as care assistant for the elderly, care assistant and nursing assistant.

Is it necessary to obtain recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications?

The above mostly applies to non-regulated occupations. Although obtaining recognition in these occupations is useful any may bring many benefits, it is not necessary in order to work in these fields.

However, professional titles may be subject to protection. This is regulated differently for individual occupations in the various federal states. In such cases, authorisation will be required in order to use the relevant title. Sometimes, individual tasks may only be carried out by persons who are entitled to use the professional title in question. Recognition is necessary in these circumstances.

The craft trades and healthcare

There are also occupations in which the craft trades and healthcare are interlinked. The primary focus here is on training in the craft trades sector, and dual vocational education and training programmes are also involved.

IsIs it necessary to obtain recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications?

Recognition may be obtained for foreign professional and vocational qualifications and for knowledge and skills acquired. However, because these occupations are not regulated, recognition is not a prerequisite. Notwithstanding this, persons wishing to become self-employed in the capacity of master craftsman will need to seek recognition of their foreign qualification. In the case of the healthcare professions, this involves a number of licensed craft trades.

Examples of specific craft trade occupations in the healthcare sector include optician, orthopaedic technician and surgical instrument maker. Master craftsman trades are subject to protection in the case of such occupations.