Studying Medicine in Germany
Interview with Alexandra Wittstruck (M.D. Candidate)
By: Gregory Webb
As everyone knows very well by now, medical school in the U.S. can possibly, and will likely make you lose your mind, all of your money, and probably your entire social life. With this in mind, it can really make you wonder what it’s like for people in other countries to study such a difficult subject while attempting to keep their family life and friendships in tact. After a recent interview with medical student, Alexandra Wittstruck from the University of Marburg, we were able to take a quick glance into the life and details that revolve around studying such a demanding career field such as medicine:
Greg: Hi, Alex. So, many people probably wonder what a typical program is like and have to decide between pursuing something such as Biology or Medicine. What differences do you find between your program versus a conventional Bachelor/Master program that some of your former classmates are pursuing?
Alex: Well, to begin with, the structure is completely different. So, where in a bachelor program you have 3-4 years, then a 2-3 year master program or medical school program, we simply have one long 6-7 year program. After the first two years of study you take your first major exam which is heavily based upon subjects such as Biology, Mathematics, and other general classes like this. After you finish this exam, it will more or less determine whether you can move on to more practical courses such as bed-side manner, and many interpersonal skills like this. It isn’t until much later into the program that you begin hands on sciences.
Greg: Great. So, it definitely seems as though the program sort of builds on stepping stones, then. Do you feel thus far that your program at Marburg has prepared you for a career in medicine?
Alex: Well, it’s really hard to say, still having two years left to complete, but in a lot of ways I do believe they have not prepared us as well as I expected, I guess. We learn many facts along with many personal skills, but I really feel as though practical portions in our study have been lacking a little bit. This could be because it comes later on and I could feel completely different after completing my studies, but as of right now I think this could be improved upon.
Greg: Right. I often felt the same way in my program haha, so maybe this is something that is normal among Universities around the world. Speaking of which, I’ve heard from quite a few people already that when students can’t get into a German University for medicine, they will often travel to other countries within the European Union to study and pursue the career that way. How do you feel these programs and programs around the world compare to the German program you’re pursuing?
Alex: I think there are places such as Scandinavian countries that are preparing their students better because the hierchy is not so strict, but I think these type of programs can be expensive, especially since you have to move to another country, pay to live there and attend University. What’s good about our school is the amount of details that are provided during the actual studying portion. However, the german medical university is also still very much so evolving. I’m studying the classical school, but there are newer programs that being introduced without the first exam that I mentioned before and they seem very promising!
Greg: Right. And regarding the costs as you mentioned before, how much is a student looking to pay regarding the actual tuition for medical school—so excluding cost of living and things like this. Well, the actual cost of tuition isn’t so bad.
Alex: So, in Marburg we pay about 300 Euros per semester, but in some places in germany it can be as much as 800 per semester. This is because a few years ago, there was something implemented to help pay for things such as labs and tools and to probably deter people who were studying for 10+ years and post-poning life because it’s an easy way of living here while you’re studying and students seem to try to drag it out. Sometimes in the first few semesters I spent some money on books, but it was nothing overwhelming that I can remember.
Alex: Okay, great. So, as I’m sure you were, many students are probably wondering what it’s like to study medicine, in general—in terms of social life, hours spent studying, things like this. What advice would you offer to anyone considering studying medicine in Germany?
Alex: Haha, oh wow. Just do it if you are very, very into this subject. If you have an alternative that you are on the fence with, pick the other one. The pressure is very high and the program often makes you leave your hobbies and friends on the back burner. And definitely don’t do it for financial reasons, do it if you love it and it’s really what you want to do.
So, there you have it, folks. To everyone’s surprise (or perhaps lack thereof) medicine is more than likely just as grueling, but should it be something of great interest to you—likewise a rewarding career choice and program of study. Should anyone have anymore questions, feel free to comment below or personally write an inquiry to: email@example.com .