In the course of the clinical section of the degree, there is the provision to complete 120 days of medical internships or medical electives during the degree years three to five.
Depending on the university, there are further stipulations that specify the rendering of the medical internship. Magdeburg, e.g., orders 30 days of the internships to be completed at a general physician’s office. These ordinances vary from uni to uni, for questions about specific institutions you may refer to the respective uni’s website.
Famulus is the latin word for servant. Thus, medical internship (Famulatur in German) means virtually servitude.
But well, it is actually not that awful; maybe it was different in past times.
My experiences during my medical electives were through and through excellent!
- Elective in plastic surgery (2 weeks)
- Elective with general practitioner (mandatory, 6 weeks)
- Deutsche-Ärzte-Zentrum (centre of German doctors) in Tenerife (2 weeks)
- Aesthetic surgery in Hamburg (4 weeks)
- Dermatology in Magdeburg (4 weeks)
So, if you count, I put in two weeks too many.
The first medical internship is arguably the most exciting. The first time, you are only accompanying the doctors and take over some medical tasks on the station, like drawing blood or installing venous cannulas (called Braunülen in Germany after their producer B. Braun), eventually you might even be conducting patient admission interviews yet.
You are allowed to assist during operations, hold hooks, ask questions, and if you do well, you might even be sewing every now and then.
Before I start talking about the individual medical electives, I would like to say something general first.
You should use the internship to gain insight into the subjects that you are interested in!
Every internship, that I freely chose, was of tremendous value to me!
I was welcomed very friendly everywhere, I was shown tons of medical topics and all doctors were happy to teach me.
The medical internship with a general practitioner was mandatory and endured 4 weeks. Since I was parallelly working on my doctoral thesis and usually allowed to leave work early, I extended the stay to 6 weeks. Nonetheless, this is where I learned the least.
This was due in part to my intrinsic motivation (or maybe lack thereof), but also due to me simply choosing the practice that was the closest to my apartment. This doctor only had one treatment room and opening hours till 11:30am, which is why I wasn’t able to do any pre-inspections or similar and was sent home early on most days.
The point I want to make here is that there is a whole lot to learn in every medical internship! Almost all doctors are genuinely glad to mentor a student, however, only if the student is appropriately motivated.
It is recommended, to put out a high motivation on every day of your medical internship so that you can maximally benefit from it.
Furthermore, medical electives give you the opportunity to travel abroad. Every student curious about going abroad should most definitely seize this chance!
Personally, I cannot verify that you are taught and learn the most at the university hospital. Rather on the contrary. Often, the “servant” (student) is trusted with a greater number of tasks and better integrated into the staff at small hospitals.
From my experience, I would like to argue that only sitting by and watching an ultrasound or an anamnesis talk a hundred times does not trigger a learning effect as strong as actually conducting the procedure yourself.
Also, the medical elective with a local practice is worth it and should not be neglected!
Medical Internships are almost the only possibility to gain insight into everyday practice routines. Which is a bit weird actually, seen that a great portion of medics will settle in a local practice at some point.
In the local practice I was at, I personally learned a great deal about different life attitudes, work efficiency, life-work balance, advantages and disadvantages of hospitals and local practices, and much more. Who is lucky enough to have much personal contact with the chief physician can also gain a lot of knowledge here. Many chief physicians in local practices were head physicians in hospitals before and may, sometimes, additionally have vastly inspiring life stories.