A new vocational training program for nurses in Germany

Germany recently introduced a new vocational training program for nurses in Germany: Whereas there used to be separate training programs for geriatric nursing, health care and nursing, and health care and pediatric nursing, there is now only one vocational training program with the professional qualification “Pflegefachfrau” or “Pflegefachmann”.

The New Nursing Training Program in Germany

The new nursing training program in Germany, introduced recently, is a significant departure from the previous system. Previously, there were separate training programs for geriatric nursing, health care and nursing, and health care and pediatric nursing. Now, there is only one vocational training program with the professional qualification “Pflegefachfrau” or “Pflegefachmann”. This new training program, known as the generalist nursing training, is designed to produce nursing specialists who can work in all areas of nursing. The training lasts three years and is completed full-time.

One of the key features of the new nursing training program in Germany is its comprehensive nature. It combines the previously separate fields of geriatric, nursing and pediatric nursing into one unified program. This means that upon completion of the program, nurses are equipped to work in a variety of settings and with a wide range of patient populations. This is a significant advantage in the increasingly complex and diverse healthcare landscape.

Compared to other countries, the new nursing training program in Germany offers a more holistic and versatile approach to nursing education. In many countries, nursing education is still divided into separate tracks for different specialties. The German model, with its emphasis on a unified, generalist training, could serve as a model for other countries looking to adapt their nursing education to meet the changing needs of the healthcare sector.

Career Development Post-Training

Once the vocational training program for nurses is completed, there are numerous opportunities for career advancement in the field. Nurses can choose to specialize in a specific area of healthcare, such as geriatric nursing, pediatric nursing, or oncology nursing. Specialization often involves additional training or certification, but it can lead to higher positions within the healthcare system and potentially higher salaries.

Germany has recently introduced a new vocational training program for nurses, unifying the previously separate training programs for geriatric nursing, health care and nursing, and health care and pediatric nursing into one comprehensive program. This new program, known as the “Pflegefachfrau” or “Pflegefachmann” training, is designed to produce nursing specialists who can work in all areas of nursing. The training lasts three years and is completed full-time.

In addition to specialization, nurses can also choose to pursue leadership roles within healthcare organizations. This could involve becoming a head nurse or a nursing director, roles that involve overseeing other nursing staff and managing the nursing operations of a healthcare facility. To prepare for these roles, nurses may need to pursue further education in healthcare administration or management.

Furthermore, nurses can also consider roles in education or research. For instance, with additional training, they could become nursing educators, teaching the next generation of nurses. Alternatively, they could work in healthcare research, contributing to advancements in the field. These roles can offer a change of pace from traditional nursing roles and can be rewarding career paths for those interested in these areas.

Major Employers in the Healthcare and Medical Sector in Germany

  1. Public Sector: In the public sector, one of the largest employers in the healthcare and medical field is the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. It is renowned for its excellence in teaching and training for medical students and healthcare professionals. Another significant employer is the University Hospital of Cologne, which offers a wide range of medical specialties and is known for its research and teaching.
  2. Private Sector: In the private sector, Fresenius Medical Care, a leading provider of dialysis products and services, is a major employer. The company operates in more than 120 countries worldwide and has a significant presence in Germany. Another key player is Bayer, a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Bayer offers a wide range of opportunities for healthcare professionals in various roles.
  3. Non-Profit Organizations: Non-profit organizations also play a significant role in Germany’s healthcare sector. The German Red Cross, for instance, is a major provider of ambulance services and offers a range of health and social services. Similarly, Caritas Germany, one of the largest charitable organizations in the country, operates numerous hospitals, nursing homes, and social service centers. These organizations offer a variety of roles for healthcare professionals, from frontline care to administrative and support roles.

Nursing training: only one nursing profession in Germany from now on

  1. What is the generalist nursing training in Germany?

    Generalist nursing training is the current vocational training for nursing specialist in Germany. With this degree, you can work as a certified specialist in all areas of nursing. This new training (since 2020) replaces the previously separate training of geriatric, nursing and pediatric nursing and combines these areas of activity.

  2. How long does the new nursing training in Germany last?

    The new nursing training lasts three years and is completed full-time. Afterwards, you can work as a specialist in the occupational fields of geriatric care, health care and nursing, and health care and pediatric nursing.

  3. How much does it cost to train as a nursing specialist?

    For you as a trainee/apprentice, the training is free of charge. You will also receive a training allowance every month.

  4. How much do I earn during the training as a nursing specialist in Germany?

    The amount of your earnings (training allowance) during your training as a nurse specialist depends on your employer, the region and many other factors. Therefore, it is not possible to give an exact figure – you must ask your employer for this and possibly negotiate it with them. In the public sector, you can expect to receive about 1165 euros per month in the first year of your apprenticeship. In the second apprenticeship year you will receive about 1230 euros and then in the third apprenticeship year about 1330 euros (all figures are gross). How much you actually earn depends on the federal state, but also on the clinic or institution where you complete your training. You do not have to pay tuition.

  5. Is the professional nursing qualification from Germany also valid abroad?

    The professional nursing qualification from Germany is recognized throughout the EU. You can therefore work with it in any other EU country, for example in Sweden, Italy or Malta.

  6. What are the prerequisites for training as a nursing specialist?

    The prerequisite is an intermediate school leaving certificate (Realschule). You can also apply with a secondary school diploma, but then you have to complete a preceding training as a nursing assistant. As a foreigner, you need German language skills of at least level B1, in many cases even B2.

  7. Can I train as a nursing assistant part-time?

    Yes, any dual vocational training in Germany can in principle also be completed part-time. How and under what circumstances this is possible depends on your personal situation and your employer.

  8. What do I get during my training as a nursing specialist in Germany?

    You will receive a monthly salary (starting at around 1,200 euros per month). In addition you get: Free teaching aids and learning materials (for example, books) and training materials for practical training. Many employers also provide professional clothing. In some cases, you can get discounted accommodation, a laptop for studying and you can also use company cars.

  9. Can I still earn money while I am training to become a nurse?

    Yes, in Germany you can work up to 10 hours per week in parallel to your training. This must be approved by your training company and you should also ask your training company first if you can work there additionally. Many trainees depend on this additional income.

  10. Do I have to do night work and shift work during my apprenticeship?

    Night work and shift work are part of the nursing profession and therefore occur during training. However, this is strictly regulated – among other things by the Working Hours Act and the Youth Protection Act. Only in the second half of the training period should night duties be performed and these must not exceed 120 hours.

How much will I earn after training to become a nurse?

The amount you’ll earn after your nursing education depends on your employer, region, and many other factors. You must ask your employer for the exact figure and possibly negotiate it with him or her.

In many cases, you will be paid according to the collective wage agreement. As a career starter, you can expect about 2300 euros gross per month. If you work in shifts, there are bonuses for this, as well as for work at night, on weekends and on public holidays.

A new vocational training program for nurses in Germany
During your training to become a nurse, you will also have to spend a lot of time in the classroom: Here you will mainly learn the theoretical basics of the profession, including the fundamentals of business administration and labor law, as well as basic medical knowledge.

The longer you are in the profession, the more your salary usually increases. After one year of work experience and then often annually, your salary will increase or you can ask for a raise. After three years, you can expect to earn around 2700 euros gross. Depending on your commitment, your reliability and possible further training, you can later earn 3500 euros gross and more.

Is training as a nursing specialist suitable for me?

You should be able to answer “yes” to as many of the following questions as possible. The more often you can say “yes,” the more likely it is that a nursing apprenticeship is right for you:

  • you have at least a secondary school diploma
  • if you are not a native speaker of German, you speak it at level B1/B2
  • you like to work with people
  • you like to communicate with people
  • you can work under time pressure
  • you are willing to work on weekends, at night or on public holidays
  • you can handle stress well
  • you like to learn, also theory
  • you like to help people
  • you have no problem with physical contact with elderly and sick people.

Is there a faster training program for nurses in Germany?

There are several cases in which you can shorten an education in nursing:

  1. Training as a nursing assistant is faster – but you also end up earning significantly less.
  2. If you have already completed training as a nursing assistant (or even parts of it), then you can shorten your training to become a nursing specialist. Up to 1 year shortening is possible here.
  3. If you have already completed similar training or studies abroad, you can have this recognized. Depending on the recognition, you can work directly in the profession or shorten your training as a nurse by up to two years.

This is how you can start a vocational training program for nurses in Germany

If you are interested in the nursing profession and have answered many questions with “yes”, then you can start your training like this:

How to find an apprenticeship as a nurse in Germany

  1. Search for an employer in Germany

    Look for a suitable employer, for example a nursing service or a hospital. You can find job advertisements on this page. Or you can search at the employment agency or other job exchanges.

  2. Apply

    Apply to the employer that suits you best or send applications to several possible employers.

  3. Wait for results

    Wait until you receive the results of your application or ask for them by phone or e-mail after a few days. If there is no answer, simply apply to other employers. But try to keep an overview. It is best to create a list that you always have at hand.

  4. Apply for a visa as a foreigner

    If you are a foreigner and do not come from the EU, you must apply for a visa. Among other things, you will need your language certificate and your employer’s training contract.

Embracing Cultural Diversity in Nursing Training

In an increasingly globalized world, the ability to provide culturally competent care is becoming more important than ever for healthcare professionals. This is particularly true for nurses, who often serve as the primary point of contact for patients. In Germany, the vocational training program for nurses recognizes this need and incorporates elements of intercultural competence into its curriculum.

smiling young male nurse bright office Focus
The training program for nursing specialists in Germany is free of charge for trainees, who also receive a monthly training allowance. The amount of this allowance depends on various factors, including the employer and the region, but in the public sector, trainees can expect to receive about 1165 euros per month in the first year of their apprenticeship, increasing to about 1330 euros by the third year.

The training program prepares future nurses to work with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds by teaching them about different cultural norms, beliefs, and values related to health and illness. This includes understanding how these cultural factors can influence a patient’s perception of illness, their willingness to seek treatment, and their adherence to medical advice. By gaining this knowledge, nurses can provide more personalized and effective care to their patients.

In addition to classroom learning, nursing trainees in Germany also have the opportunity to gain practical experience in a variety of healthcare settings. This allows them to interact with a diverse patient population and apply their intercultural competence skills in real-world situations. Through this combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, the vocational training program for nurses in Germany equips its graduates with the skills they need to provide culturally competent care in a diverse society.

The Role of Technology in Nursing Education in Germany

In Germany, the integration of technology into nursing education is becoming increasingly important. With the rapid advancement of medical technology and the digitalization of healthcare, it’s crucial for future nurses to be proficient in using various technological tools and platforms. The new vocational training program for nurses in Germany recognizes this need and has incorporated elements of technology training into its curriculum.

The program introduces trainees to a range of technologies that are commonly used in healthcare settings. This includes electronic health records, patient monitoring systems, telemedicine platforms, and even advanced medical equipment. The aim is to ensure that graduates are comfortable with these technologies and can use them effectively in their day-to-day work. This not only improves the efficiency and accuracy of care but also allows nurses to focus more on their primary role – providing compassionate care to patients.

The training program for nursing specialists in Germany includes both theoretical and practical components. Trainees spend a significant amount of time in the classroom learning the theoretical basics of the profession, including the fundamentals of business administration and labor law, as well as basic medical knowledge. They also gain practical experience in various occupational fields of geriatric care, health care and nursing, and health care and pediatric nursing.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare, making technological competence an even more essential skill for nurses. In response to this, nursing training in Germany has adapted to include more digital learning methods, such as online classes and virtual simulations. These methods not only prepare trainees for the digital transformation of healthcare but also provide them with flexible learning options that can be accessed from anywhere.

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