How to survive the first half-year in Germany working as a doctor?

My dear colleagues, as this is a very vivid topic I am happy to share my own experiences, tips and tricks on how to make it through despite numerous obstacles during these challenging times. As I was mostly working as GP and occasionally as an ER doctor – for a decade, this completely different working system had been a radical change not only for my working habits but also reflected slightly on my lifestyle. Very openly to say, in the beginning, I could hardly accept to work in an extra-large working collective and the structure was extremely puzzling for me. When I say XL working collective, it means that there are around 1000 workers at certain hospitals. All of these prior years I spent in bringing decisions on my own, coordinating work, doing the most of it as I used to work in villages and islands. But this extreme change hit me very hard, though the working collective was very nice towards me. Tackling freshly passed C1 language exam, jumping into the field of Psychiatry that is a pure linguistic branch of medicine and learning about the working system in a hospital in a foreign country from a scratch – those were the true challenges for a complete foreigner despite all of the accumulated working experience from my own country. I just had to forget everything that I have ever been working on and just start all over again. Tough life choice – many of us would claim. And to be honest it was. First of all, anyone who tries to convince you that B2 level in the German language would be enough – it is not true! One needs AT LEAST C1, especially if psychiatry specialisation is a choice. Even if part, of course, C2 is done it could be so beneficial for Psychiatry. Be careful if somebody from you is planning to work in part of Germany where dialectal German language is spoken, you will REALLY have to know the German language very well in order to understand patients and colleagues. What actually to work on? As Psychiatry is very specific, one needs loads of “Textbausteine” to write a discharge letter or a short report in case of transferring the patient to another ward or for diagnostics/therapy in different hospitals. All of these archived materials will be soon available on my blog. There will be offers for many of the German language courses, but have in mind that most of the coaches are actually trained for general German and rarely one provides lessons that prepare doctors for this path, especially Psychiatry! The course that I really found very helpful not only for mastering my spoken language but also for getting my discharge letters sorted out was an online course organised by VHS Pankow in Berlin conducted by Ms Alexandra Marschner. As I was really desperate in all of these new challenges regarding language after a while (nearly one year,oooops!) finally I contacted VHS Pankow and asked if I could be helped with this specific fach and of course if there would be a willingness to correct my already written discharge letters that I still didn’t deliver to the secretary from the ward where I work. The positive answer came in no time, actually, I got the call from the Dozentin and immediately she helped me in the correction of these 3 discharge letters with a kilometre long epicrisis. I could not describe the gratefulness and relief that I felt! Actually, this barrier in dialects/language took such a toll on me! In the beginning, I just could not believe that most of the things would be sorted out in a few months….But well! Figuring out the working system in the hospital was also quite a demanding thing. First of all, I had to prevent myself from extreme individualism that I got used to, now I had to function as a part of the Philharmonic orchestra, hahaha! Understanding your obligations, obligations towards colleagues doctors, nurses, social workers and psychologists was a new era for me. From filling in the medical documentation, prescribing medicaments, physiotherapy, conducting individual conversations with patients and separately with their parents/relatives and those who have custody of them, understanding the judicial side of working in Psychiatry….I can say that one needs very good guidance not only to survive all of this new information but also to be able to work one day without supervision. It seems scary from the beginning because there is really much work to do and all of these things to understand how they function. We may feel that nothing special is evolving….but things seem quite different from outside 😉 Don’t worry, it takes a certain amount of time and effort and of course good mentoring in order to get into all of this, but never feel discouraged, all of us were total beginners and time is really needed to process all of the new stuff in your lives. Very important during this period to look after your mental and physical health as nobody else will do it for you. Only yourself. Remember and repeat this to yourself! Now to go to the gym and dissolve the accumulated stress, afterwards read something beautiful and forget all about this 😆 Don’t worry, I actually started to work alone in quite a short time!

Good luck with everything!


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