How Saxony trained young doctors in Hungary

Juliane Wagner has been a doctor since Sunday. Six years ago, she had already abandoned that dream. Too exhausting, too exhausting were the years in which she repeatedly sought a place in the registration office – without success.

"Studying medicine is actually a wish that has existed since my childhood," says the 29-year-old. Through her training as a physiotherapist and her studies in osteopathy, she tried to get closer to this dream. On Sunday, she is currently on the stage of the auditorium of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pécs with ten other students and is graduating. "This is a gift for me." Hard earned.


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200 kilometers south of Budapest, near the Croatian border, Pécs is backed by the mountains of Mecsek. Fünfkirchen, as it was the case in the time of the Habsburgs, is the second largest city in Hungary with about 145,000 inhabitants. Almond and fig trees convey a Mediterranean feeling. The international flair is not only felt in the city center with its many architectural monuments of antiquity, Roman, Ottoman and German. With 13,000 students, the university shapes the urban landscape. The many young people also come from Germany, Norway, Iran and the Far East. Pécs is the most important city for the German-speaking minority in Hungary. More than half of the Hungarian Germans live here.

The city center is adorned with many architectural monuments of ancient times, Romans, Ottomans and Germans. With 13,000 students, the university shapes the urban landscape.

© dpa / George Ismar

Juliane Wagner has been at home in Pécs for six years. The little young woman with brown curls belongs to the first year. She was trained in Hungary as a doctor of the Free State. Since 2013, the association of health insurance doctors of Saxony (KVS) and the health insurance of Saxony finance 20 students per year in human medicine in Pécs.

The condition: students agree to work after graduating from at least five years as a general practitioner in Saxony – outside the cities of Leipzig, Markkleeberg, Dresden and Radebeul. In total, about 80 young Saxons are currently studying at the University of Pécs as part of the model course. "We were already acting actively at that time because we knew that because of the age structure of our doctors in Saxony, the shortage of doctors would increase in the future," said Klaus Heckemann, CEO. from KVS. In Saxony, 27% of primary care physicians are aged 60 and over, 11% are over 65 years old. The average age of general practitioners is 54.1 years.

"We thank you for your very courageous decision at the time," said Saxony's Minister of Social Affairs, Barbara Klepsch (CDU), at the gala dinner in honor of graduates from Pécs. Six years later, this decision shows results. "Eleven future family doctors – this is good news for citizens of the Free State of Saxony," said Klepsch. "Because it means that their medical care will be secure in the future." At present, 255 general practitioners do not have staff in Saxony. In contrast, in 2018, only 73 doctors have passed the specialist examination in general medicine. According to the statistics of the Association of Physicians of the sector of compulsory health insurance, in 24 out of 47 regions, there is a risk of shortage of family doctors.

At the time, six years ago, the idea of ​​studying in Hungary still dissuaded Juliane Wagner. Hungary? How should this work? But the model project "Studying in Europe – The future in Saxony" was the only chance for Zwickauerin to study medicine. Again and again, she tried unsuccessfully to secure a place in Germany. The only criterion that matters in the award is the Abitur rating. In medicine, a numerus clausus of 1.0 s applies. If you are worse, you have to wait – often for years. "It was a mental burden to keep refusing," she says. She learned about the existence of the program because her grand-aunt is a general practitioner. But since she had the idea of ​​studying medicine, her mother had to apply.

There are about 80 candidates for 20 places a year. Required is an average of high school of at least 2.6. This is followed by a multi-step selection procedure by the Association of Physicians of the Health Insurance Scheme. The personal motivation and aptitude of the candidate for a medical activity in Saxony are the most important aspects, the school grades play only a minor role, according to the KVS. Those who qualify are invited to the interview. In the end, about thirty students will be offered at the University of Pécs.

And the program is being expanded. From 2020, 20 additional places will be offered in Hungary, funded by the Saxony Ministry of Social Affairs. To this end, the Association of doctors of the health insurance scheme and the Ministry signed Friday a cooperation agreement at the University of Pécs. In addition to general practitioners, specialists in neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy, as well as psychiatrists and psychotherapists for children and adolescents, as well as medical specialists in public health, will also be trained – subjects that are subject to of urgent urgency in Saxony.

Today, Juliane Wagner says that medical studies in Hungary have advantages. "Everything is very familiar and we are a bit excluded here." There is little distraction. "It allows us to work in a targeted way and focus on studies." This six year course is well organized. Each semester includes 14 weeks of lectures and seven weeks of exams. In winter from September to January, in summer from February to June. If you fail a test, you can repeat it directly – or a year later. Four students of the 2013 vintage will not finish until next year. Driving time at home only stays at Christmas, Easter and summer. However, medical students do not really have a vacation: in Saxony, students work in the field of patents. Practice at the family doctor. After ten semesters, they must submit a diploma thesis qualifying them for the Hungarian State Examination. If you pass the exam, you will receive an approval and you will be "Dr. med." With a small "d" For the big ones, the students will always have to write a doctoral thesis in a German university.

"It took us two years to settle down and make contact with other students," recalls Juliane Wagner. At first, the Saxons were also stigmatized among other German medical students – only the Free State offers a program in which tuition is funded. Meanwhile, Hungary has become the second homeland of Juliane Wagner. She has moved from a dormitory to a shared flat in the city and has many international and Hungarian friends. The cost of living is low, the rent is 120 euros per month, the food costs 80 to 100 euros, once to go to the opera for five euros. "The Mediterranean atmosphere and the family environment will miss me," said Wagner. "I will continue to keep in touch with the university and my friends here in the future."

Felix Liebscher is glad it's over. The 25-year-old is also a graduate of the first year. "It was exhausting," he says. The Marienberger applied to the program just after graduation and after a voluntary social year. Learning for six years, exams, practice. In addition to studying medicine, two to four times a week, there were language courses at the time. Classes and exams are in German. For the patient contact the students need Hungarian. Nobody had any prior knowledge. "We have to use language to be patient," says Liebscher. "There is nothing worse than ordering a beer, but not being able to ask questions about the stool."

The Janus Pannonius University Hospital in Pécs is located next to the Faculty of Medicine. Here, students treat Hungarian patients.

© Andrea Schawe

In practice, students from the Janus Pannonius University Hospital in Pécs can work with Hungarian patients. The clinic, located next to the medical school, has 340 beds and is the only major hospital in the region. Catchment area: one million people. "We were able to go to the clinic at any time, train and learn the basics," says Wagner. Operation in orthopedics, research in cardiology, weekend at the maternity ward. "A medical playground." Speakers put a special emphasis on high-level practice, especially among German students.

"The young people studying here will be our ambassadors," said Miklós Nyitrai, dean of the Faculty of Medicine. They represent the university and also Hungary. In addition, international programs play a major role in the evaluation of universities. In addition to the tuition fees of foreign students. "Better, the Germans are studying here rather than they are courting our students," said the Dean. Because Hungary also has a problem of medical care. Much higher salaries attract young people to other EU countries, including Germany. For the mayor of Pécs, the program is "proof that Europe can still work together," said Zsolt Páva, member of the Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The spirit of Europe is the deep meaning of this project. "I am very proud that students from Saxony are talking about Pécs and Hungary."

Felix Liebscher will talk about it in the future at Chemnitz Klinikum. There, the 25-year-old begins his training as a general practitioner. After six years abroad, he lives with his girlfriend and their daughter just 30 kilometers from his hometown, Marienberg. "I look forward to being a licensed physician," he says. The decision for general medicine was not difficult. The subject is varied and therefore particularly exciting. "You never know who goes through the door of practice.

The requirement to become a GP at the end is seen as very critical by the students. "How should one decide what he wants before to study and without knowing it," asks Juliane Wagner. She too had doubts. Topics such as psychiatry or gynecology, which did not interest her before, became exciting during the practical year in Switzerland. "In the end, it's what interests me the most, but the man," she says. From August / September, Juliane Wagner will begin her training as a specialist in general medicine at the Klinikum in Werdau. Very close to his family.