Nursing internship before the Physikum

MUDr. Andreas Zehetner

MUDr. Andreas Zehetner

CO-Founder of futuredoctor

Reading time: 5 Minuten
Last updated: 12 April 2024
Nursing internship

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Anyone wishing to study human medicine in Germany and enter the medical profession must complete a nursing internship between leaving school and the Physikum or Physikum equivalence after the fourth semester. This is a mandatory requirement for admission to the medical examination. There are a few things for medical students to bear in mind to ensure that the internship is an instructive time and is recognised as proof. We have summarised the requirements and all other relevant information for interns here!

Where is it possible to study nursing as part of a medical degree programme?

The nursing service must be completed on a hospital ward or in a rehabilitation facility with a comparable level of nursing care, i.e. it cannot take place in operating theatres, outpatient clinics, emergency rooms or surgeries. Psychiatric and psychosomatic wards are also not recognised as internship locations without exception and in some cases not fully. In psychiatry and psychosomatics, as with rehabilitation clinics, the relevant institution must therefore certify that the care required is comparable to the activities carried out in a hospital. In cases of doubt, however, the state examination office should always be contacted in advance.

How long does the nursing internship last?

A total of 90 days (including weekends and public holidays) must be certified by the institution for the nursing internship to be recognised. These can be divided into a maximum of three periods of at least 30 days each (note: 4 weeks only have 28 days and are therefore not sufficient, so if you start on a Monday, for example, the last working day must be a Tuesday). Work is full-time, i.e. five days a week, and the exact working conditions and hours are agreed with the respective departments. However, it is not usually necessary to work at weekends or at night. Interruptions to the internship are unfortunately not "officially" permitted, even in the event of illness, so sick days and other days of absence must actually be made up immediately afterwards and the internship extended by the corresponding amount of time. However, many stations are accommodating and overlook the occasional excused absence due to illness or important appointments. It is best to discuss this with your ward before the end of your internship so that you can plan ahead.

Nursing internship before the medical examination: when to complete it?

The nursing internship can be completed after graduation either before the medical studies or during the lecture-free period between the first four semesters. However, since many universities schedule internships and make-up exams during the semester break (and semester breaks should also be a well-deserved relaxation from the stress of university), it is highly recommended to complete parts or even the entire three months of the internship before starting your studies.

What are my tasks during my nursing internship?

The tasks of nursing interns are almost identical to those of nurses, but can vary depending on the clinic, ward, specialist area and also their own commitment and motivation. The main focus is on fulfilling everyday nursing tasks such as personal hygiene, positioning patients, making beds, distributing food and taking vital signs, although some tasks such as changing dressings or taking blood samples are also possible under supervision and guidance. This gives students an insight into everyday clinical life in the care sector through direct patient contact. It definitely helps to show interest and ask questions, because the faster you learn, the more you are usually allowed to do. If you have the feeling that you are only being used for non-specialist tasks such as making coffee or cleaning, you should talk to the ward manager or a trusted colleague and, if necessary, discuss a change of ward with the HR department.

Nursing internship

Which services or trainings replace the nursing internship?

The nursing service can also be credited if other services or training in relevant areas have been completed. Under certain conditions (which can be found on the websites of the state examination offices), this includes service in the medical sector of the Federal Armed Forces, voluntary service in hospital wards or nursing homes for the elderly/disabled and vocational training as an obstetrician, nurse, MTA, curative education nurse, paramedic or emergency paramedic.

Is the nursing service paid?

Depending on the institution, a small allowance is possible, but payment is not usual. If the nursing internship takes place within the framework of voluntary service or training, the salary agreed upon for this naturally applies.

What is the application process for a nursing internship?

Applications for nursing internships are straightforward and can be made directly via the institution. No special prerequisites or successfully passed examination are necessary. You can either apply openly to the HR department and be assigned to the location or express your wishes regarding the ward or specialisation. As always, it is best to attach an application with a cover letter and CV and state the desired period. You must also enclose proof of immunisation against hepatitis B. The relevant vaccination must have been administered at least 6 weeks before you start.

The nursing internship as a compulsory internship - just unpaid unskilled labour?

To be honest: Yes and no. It would be an exaggeration to say that the three months of unpaid full-time work in nursing would be fun and professionally enriching for everyone from start to finish. Nevertheless, you should not underestimate what getting used to patient contact and internalising basic (nursing) tasks as part of everyday clinical practice means for the rest of your training. At the latest when you are on a ward for the first time as a student, you can gain confidence and bonus points with every experience and every practised movement. As a future doctor, you will also learn to appreciate the work of the nurses. So look forward to the whole thing positively, even if the nursing internship is not known as the most popular part of the degree programme - in the end, these insights are worth it!