The Shortage of

Medical Professionals



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abroad specialist scholarship
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Andrea Berbec is examining a patient before admittance to the Rhon Clinic. It’s a standard medical procedure, but Berbec is a little nervous.

The 28 year old Romanian doctor only arrived in Germany two weeks earlier. Berbec needs the assistance of another doctor as she knows only a little German, and she’s unfamiliar with the clinic’s routine.

She wants to begin her training as a specialist in Germany soon.

Andrea Berbec, Romanian Doctor: “I think I can do more, learn more, study more and be a better doctor here. It’s not so bad in Romania, but things are very different here. I wanted to gain another perspective.”

That’s not to mention better pay in Germany. But for the moment, Berbec is paid just under six-hundred Euros a month as she’s not yet licensed to practice here. The clinic also provides food and lodging.

Not until her German improves will Berbec be able to practice on her own.

Andrea Berbec, Romanian Doctor: “As a doctor, if you can’t understand your patients, their complaints, their symptoms, then you can’t make a precise diagnosis. You can’t prescribe the proper therapy.”

Journalist: “Are you afraid of doing something wrong?”

Andrea Berbec: “Yes of course, because of the language.”

To improve her German, Berbec attends a language course several times a week. The Rhon Clinic is paying the tuition fees.

The students in the course are from Romania, Montenegro and Serbia.

Andrea Berbec: “We would . . . have been able . . . to play the game . . . if we . . . had had cards.”

Learning German is quite a difficult task for the students. The doctors also have to learn how to understand the local dialect.

The clinic is in Bad Neustadt in the Bavarian countryside and the people here speak with a southern German accent. The Rhon Clinic serves the surrounding region and has one-thousand five-hundred beds.

It’s proven difficult for the director of the neurology department to find qualified specialists. Out of necessity, he initiated the scholarship program with the aim of attracting doctors from abroad.

Bernd Griewing, Started Rhon Klinikum scholarship program: “We’re definitely experiencing a problem in attracting young people to work in our hospital, and as general practitioners throughout the region. It’s a serious problem here at a clinic that needs 250 doctors to provide proper care for patients.

Both we and others are struggling to deal with it.”

Participants in the program spend six months passing through all the clinic’s departments. Eighty percent go on to become specialists at the clinic like this young man from Romania.

The scholarship program costs the clinic 170,000 euros a year. And Griewing has been heavily criticized for taking doctors from developing countries and exacerbating the shortage of qualified physicians there.

Bernd Griewing, Neurology Clinic Medical Director: “Medical professionals today switch jobs more frequently than in the past and are no longer focused on one place. They don’t have to commit themselves and we just have to adjust to that.”

For Andrea Berbec, the scholarship program is a big opportunity. She swapped Bucharest for provincial Bavaria, and Berbec is happy here. However it could be some time before she feels fully at home in Germany.

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1. Dr. Andrea Berbec is a newcomer in the Rhon Clinic in Bavaria, Germany. True or false? Has she settled in and is everything routine for her?

2. Why did she come to Germany?

3. Can she communicate with her patients? Is it important to be able to communicate with her patients and colleagues?

4. What are Dr. Berbec and the other foreigners doing about this? Is it easy?

5. The Rhon Clinic has a major challenge or problem. Is this right or wrong? What is their main challenge? What is the clinic doing to address this problem?

6. The scholarship program is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Is this entirely true, most true, in the middle, yes and no, partially true or completely false? What are its criticisms?

7. How does Dr. Griewing justify the program?


A. In your local medical clinic or hospital are all, most, some, a few or none of the medical professionals foreign? If there is foreign medical staff, where do they come from? Why did they come?

B. Do medical professionals from your country practice abroad? If yes, where do they go? Why do they go there?

C. Is there a shortage or glut of doctors and nurses? If yes, why is there a shortage or glut?

D. Medicine is an attractive career for young students. Yes, no, in the middle, it depends? How much do doctors and nurses earn?

E. What will happen in the future?

F. What is the solution for the shortage of medical professionals in many countries and regions?


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