Ahmad Rez had his own pharmacy in Syria. Even before he fled Syria, he was determinedly learning German. Thanks to recognition, the family man now works as a pharmacist in Lahnstein.
“For me, recognition means prospects for the future.”
Ahmad Rez puts his heart and soul into serving customers in the pharmacy when they come to collect their prescriptions, and when he advises them how to deal with their back pain or alleviate cold symptoms. Since March 2018, the Syrian has been working in the Viktoria pharmacy in Lahnstein. There may still be a few language difficulties but all in all, the 37-year-old family man feels very happy in his job.
Ahmad Rez came to Germany in 2015 as a refugee. In Syria he studied pharmacy and ran a pharmacy for eight years. Once he had decided to leave his home country, he started learning German. He had private tutoring and achieved levels A1 and A2. On his way to Germany he spent the first four months in Turkey. There he also continued learning German and passed the Goethe-Zertifikat B1 exam.
In Germany, Ahmed Rez was initially housed in refugee accommodation in Ingelheim before moving to Lahnstein. In neighbouring Koblenz, he completed a further language course and found the IQ recognition guidance and job training advice services provided by the Caritas Association. Here he found out how he could have his foreign qualification recognised so that he would be allowed to work as a pharmacist. Ahmad Rez “To start with I didn't know exactly how to get recognition of my occupation. However, my sister had already gone to Germany a few months before me. So that meant I saw, in her case, what the recognition procedure was like for doctors.”
In June 2016, Ahmad Rez applied for recognition to the State Office for Social Affairs, Young People and Care. For recognition, he had to have knowledge of German at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. He also had to demonstrate the level of medical language needed for pharmacists by sitting a specialist language exam.
The Caritas IQ counselling centre contacted the IQ project “Doctors for the future” run by MIP - Medici in Posterum in Mainz. Ahmad Rez attended their specialist language course for medical practitioners: “That was perfect because as a pharmacist I had to learn lots of specialist terms which doctors also learn.” Following this intensive language training, he passed the Rhineland-Palatinate Chamber of Pharmacists specialist language exam in September 2016.
Following this, Ahmed was given authorisation to practise an occupation as a “pharmacist under supervision” for two years. Over this period, he worked in a pharmacy and studied alongside for the knowledge test. For this final stage on the path to recognition, he attended various seminars and preparation courses, for example at Mainz University. In January 2018, Ahmed passed the knowledge test. In February, he received approbation (licence to practise medicine in Germany) and a position as a pharmacist in March.
What had helped him in completing his journey and passing examinations at the first attempt? Being determined to learn German and never giving up. In the mornings he attended language school, and in the afternoons completed a traineeship period in the pharmacy. Ahmad Rez “Spending six hours with Germans every day really helps you to improve your language.”
Ahmad Rez's wife came to Germany in 2016 with their two children. She also wants to follow her husband into the pharmacy and has already reached language level B2. When their youngest son starts school, she wants to begin training as a dispensing assistant. Ahmad Rez “Our goal at some point is to work together in the pharmacy.”
The text is an edited version of the original. This was published in 2020 on the website of the Network IQ Rhineland-Palatinate. Specific training for pharmacists has been available through the Network IQ Rhineland-Palatinate since 2017. “Doctors for the future” is a six-month preparation course for the pharmaceutical knowledge test run by IQ partner MIP - Medici In Posterum GmbH. This IQ training provision was awarded the national integration prize in 2019.