The system of study in Germany is not splitted into undergraduate and postgraduate studies as in the United States of America and in the UK. At German universities a first academic degree (Diplom/Magister/Staatsexamen) can be obtained after 5 to 7 years of specific study and it is regarded as the equivalent internationally as a masters degree. In Germany it takes 6 years to complete human medicine under the German State Examination system (Staatsexamen ). In reality it can take 7-8 years. The admission for human medicine studies in Germany is restricted, the so-called numerus clausus.
The Federal Republic of Germany offers a diverse range of hospitals. Excellent medical care is guaranteed at more than 2,240 acute care hospitals and about 1,380 prevention and rehabilitation clinics. More than 145,000 practicing physicians in Germany have been trained at internationally renowned medical institutes and they continue to receive further training in their respective specialist areas throughout their professional life. A total of 46 university clinics and teaching hospitals are not only responsible for training young physicians; each one also takes part in medical research project and is specialized in treating highly complex illnesses. The university clinics are part of an international network of scientists. Without this international cooperation, researching innovative forms of therapy would not be possible. Through this strong emphasis on international scientific dialogue, the level of medical competence currently found at these state-of-the-art medical centres ranks among the best in the world. At the same time, legal regulations ensure that the cost of this top-quality medical treatment is kept at a moderate level- and this attractive pricing policy applies to international patients, too.As medical training was thoroughly reformed, its contents were modernised, new forms of teaching and examination methods integrated, a comprehensive evaluation of teaching introduced and training thus brought into line with the requirements of the future. Through the improvement of university training, the post-graduate pre-registration period or "AIP Arzt im Praktikum" was abolished effective 1st October 2004. Consequently, each graduate is legally entitled to the licence to practise medicine immediately after passing the last state examination - provided that all other requirements are met.
Changes in the disease spectrum and demographic development lead to changed requirements in medical care. Therefore, the holistic view of the patient, interdisciplinary care and prevention especially in managing at-risk patients must be intensified. Chronic diseases must be managed more strongly through co-operation among the various care settings (out-patient/ in-patient/ rehabilitative). Moreover, the co-ordination of care in the outpatient sector among family doctors, specialists and other health professions must be enhanced.
As a consequence, the reform of medical studies aims, alongside the teaching of basic scientific knowledge, to take account of the requirements which the doctor has to face as a result of health care developments. These are especially issues of coordination, general medicine, pharmacotherapy and health economics. The reform of medical studies is consequently geared to taking these focal points into appropriate consideration.