Nursing is the most trusted and ethical profession there is. That’s what The Gallup Poll claims, and it has been true for 19 consecutive years. And yet, the world faces a growing shortage of nurse talent, with a 300,000 expected shortage by 2030, leading to dire consequences for healthcare systems and especially for patients.
But there is at least one silver lining: more than ever before, nurses face choices and opportunities. Countries around the world – Canada, UK, Japan, Germany… – are opening up their borders to this cherished profession.
As a nurse, if you wish to work abroad, it is important to decide what the optimal geography will be for you. When making this important decision, we suggest that you look at the holistic picture: it is not just about the salary that you will make. It is about the overall work conditions, the quality of life that you will enjoy, the long-term career opportunities and the assistance you will receive to properly integrate and lead a fulfilling life.
Today, we offer you 5 reasons why Germany might be your next career move as a nurse.
With a current shortage of 40.000 vacancies Germany has opened their borders and embraced foreign nurses to strengthen their healthcare system. The German government has identified the importance of international recruitment and has set a budget to hire and integrate foreign nurse talent. With the help and support of recruitment agencies, thousands of nurses have arrived in the country, creating a diverse multicultural nursing community. In 2019 alone, 15,500 foreign nurses received their German qualification recognition, a number that increased by 49% in comparison to 2018.
This is good news for nurses wishing to pursue career opportunities in Germany . As one one of the strongest economies in the world, Germany offers a long list of social security benefits, which we will detail below. It is also important to note that foreign nurses receive at least the same conditions as local nurses and will be protected by German labor law from the day of arrival.
Germany is not only looking for new nurses from abroad; it is also actively supporting nurses once they arrive in the country. For example, Care With Care offers programs through its training partner – Care Forward – who assists nurses in adjusting to their new life in Germany, with projects covering aspects such as:
Another advantage that nurses in Germany enjoy is the certainty of being able to find employment. As a country known to have a strong economy and one of the highest employment rates registered in 2021, it still lacks nursing services in hospitals, elderly care centers, outpatient social services, and rehab clinics.
As a country that offers numerous job opportunities, nurses are assured professional development and growth. Upon arrival, you will start working as an Assistant Nurse while you undergo a 3 to 9 month training to become a Registered Nurse. Once you have achieved these milestones, you will still have the possibility to specialize in several fields according to your interests.
What is ideal about the German continuing education program is that – as a nurse – you can a) combine studying with your work, b) receive the support of your employer and c) not have to cover most education costs. These opportunities will allow you to grow professionally and access excellent job opportunities.
Here are some examples of career developments in nursing that you can achieve through additional nurse training courses:
In addition to gaining experience abroad and having the possibility to train in areas of your choice, you will also learn German. Speaking this language will be an essential aspect of your career growth and will define your professional development in your future workplace. The better your level of German is, the more job opportunities you will have and the more variety will be available when it comes to choosing your employer.
Following specific programs, such as Care With Care, you will arrive in Germany with a German level of B1/B2. Your language skills will improve thanks to the work and social environment, where you can become proficient in a language that is not easy to learn.
During this process, the Care Forward program will foster language learning. Through modules that focus on teaching German language skills necessary for work in nursing, care and housekeeping. All with the purpose of helping you to move up in your career, to get a better salary and to have more opportunities.
As a matter of fact, living in Germany has the great advantage that education and the desire to improve oneself is valued and supported by: the government, recruitment agencies, and the employer. You can undertake training in the areas you are most passionate about and pursue academic studies. Whatever the case, your skills and knowledge in any area are in demand throughout the country. At the same time, you will gain additional linguistic skills that will expand your access to better job conditions.
Nurses coming to Germany will find variety in terms of the potential location as well as the employer-type.
In terms of location, the nursing shortage is palpable everywhere. Location-wise, we encourage you to think about whether you would benefit from a larger metropolitan city like Berlin or Munich, a smaller city like Friedrichshafen, Bielefeld, Nuremberg, Nagold or Elmshorn, or rather rural experience like Flechtingen or Bad Sülze.
Most foreign nurses work at one of the following three types of healthcare institutions:
There are certain differences as well as similarities between these three workplaces. However, even within an employer type, the nursing roles may vary. In order to identify which one might align best with your goals and personality, we recommend that you do your research before interviewing with an employer and particularly before you accept a job offer. At Care With Care, we share with you employer profiles that explain the job offer, the location and lifestyle in detail and that map out the employer-specific integration plan upon arrival.
Here is a high level overview of the types of employers:
Germany’s hospital network is very wide, registering around 1,914 hospitals in 2019. Among their duties in a hospital, nurses care for patients 24 hours a day and closely monitor their physical and mental condition. They also carry out basic care and treatment measures, such as bathing and putting patients to bed, changing dressings and administering medication according to doctor’s orders. In addition, they assist in medical examinations and surgical interventions; they manage and control medical equipment and accompany doctors on their rounds. Nurses are also involved in planning nursing measures, nursing documentation and performing organizational and administrative tasks on the ward.
Geriatric care is currently the fastest growing sector in the German healthcare system. This is due to the mass retirement of the „Baby Boomer“ generation, which will only increase in the coming years. At the moment there are around 2.6 million elderly people in Germany who require geriatric care. One of the benefits of working in nursing homes is that you have similar routines every day. And since the patients are often the same, nurses get to practice their German with the same people. It is also easier to create long-term emotional bonds with patients and feel part of a community. Some nurses may find it more comforting in the early years to work in elderly care for these reasons.
To get more insights, read: Hospital or Elderly Care: What to Choose?
About two million patients are treated in a rehabilitation clinic every year in Germany. There are different types of rehabilitation clinics depending on the field of specialization. The most common areas are orthopedics, addiction diseases, and psychosomatic medicine. In addition, there are clinics with specialized departments in oncology, neurology, and cardiology.
As a rehabilitation nurse, part of the main job will be to help patients recover from chronic illnesses or injuries and enable them to acquire again the main functions of their body and mind. The main goal is to provide enough tools to patients so that they can be independent enough when it comes to their chronic injury or disability. Other routine tasks include recording patients’ medical information and vital signs, changing wound and surgical dressings, administering medications as ordered. Not only do rehabilitation nurses accompany patients but also provide counseling and accompany patients and families during the recovery period.
While rehabilitation clinics can be found Germany-wide, traditionally, they are located in rural rather than metropolitan areas. In addition to their therapies, being close to nature is intended to allow rehabilitees to recover more swiftly.
To know more about how it is to live and work in different cities of Germany, check out this interview with a Care With Care nurse about her experience working in a Hospital and in an Elderly Care Center.
Thanks to its strong economy and generous social security system, Germany offers highly rewarding social benefits and job conditions, including:
Germany has an excellent public health care system. Every citizen must have health insurance by law, which is paid in combination by the employee, the employer, and the government. Public healthcare in Germany covers general practitioner appointments, in-hospital treatment, out-patient treatments, surgery, maternity services, and basic dental care. Even in the case of unemployment, every citizen maintains this health care coverage.
The average employee in Germany had an average of 28 vacation days in 2020. Additionally, there are an additional 9 public holidays, which may slightly vary depending on the region. Bavaria, for example, has 13 public holidays per year.
When working overtime or over the weekend, you will be compensated appropriately for it, either with additional salary or days off.
Salaries vary depending on your experience and seniority as a nurse in Germany.
You will start your career in Germany as a Nurse Assistant and become a Registered Nurse once you have passed the corresponding proficiency exams.
Getting sick is not reprimanded in Germany. Instead, in case of sickness, you are entitled to your normal salary if you follow the correct procedure. The German system is so considerate that – if you become ill during your vacation – you can convert your vacation time into sick leave and thus not lose those valuable vacation days.
You will have unemployment insurance in case you lose your job. Foreign nurses must work for at least two years to qualify for this benefit. In the unfortunate event that you lose your job, you will not only receive monetary benefits (up to 60% of your monthly average salary during your last 12 months) but also assistance in finding a new job.
A significant advantage of working in Germany is that if you plan to leave the country, perhaps to return to your homeland, you may not lose the pension contributions you have made. Thanks to an agreement with most countries, Germany also pays regular pension benefits to expatriates who have returned to their home country. In order to be eligible for the German pension, you must work in Germany for at least five years.
Considering that the cost of living is much lower in other countries, some people may decide to retire outside of Germany, even Germans themselves!
The 2020 study by Asher & Lyric ranked Germany as the seventh best country in the world to start a family. Parents receive generous financial support from the state, they are offered generous parental leave and their jobs are protected by law during this time.
There are several advantages if you are a parent working in Germany. In fact, if you are a mother, you will be granted mandatory parental leave, before and after childbirth. In addition, mothers are entitled to full pay for the six weeks before and eight weeks after the birth, known as „mother’s protection time“.
Each parent may take up to three years of parental leave per child. In the case of the mother this three-year parental leave includes the six-week maternity leave, prescribed by law, during which the mother must stay at home. The German system is gender-equitable, as mothers and fathers have equal parental leave entitlements, and the rules allow both parents to devote large periods to family and career in shifts.
Laws such as the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz) ensure that pregnant women are not discriminated against when applying for a job and to provide them with additional protection against dismissal because of their pregnancy or the arrival of their newborn child. Furthermore, the Employment ban (Beschäftigungsverbot) protects pregnant or breastfeeding women by discontinuing work if certain job activities pose a physical or mental health risk to the mother or child. Nursing work is one of these high-risk occupations where the employment ban applies.
Germany is considered quite generous when it comes to supporting parents in raising their children. The government spends around €223 billion each year on 156 different family benefits, including healthcare, generous parental leave, subsidized childcare and tax breaks.
A child benefit ranging from €204-€235 per child is paid monthly to every household and the same amount is paid to all, regardless of the parents‘ income. A tax-free child allowance can also be granted to parents under certain conditions. In addition, parents can save more taxes by deducting their childcare and school fees; up to €4,000 and €5,000 per year, respectively.
Strong and predominantly free education system
Germany has a world-class education system and support to raise children.
In cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, “Kindergartens” (child care centers) are free of charge as they are fully funded by the government. Likewise, public schools offering primary and secondary education are free, and of excellent quality. In regions where the education system is not fully free, it is still heavily subsidized by the government and all children are granted access to good education opportunities.
Regarding the public higher education institutions, most are free of charge, even the country’s top universities. Unlike other countries that charge sky-high tuition fees due to the high demand of students who wish to attend them, Germany’s top-ranked universities charge the same tuition fees as the rest: nothing.
In short, Germany is an excellent alternative for nurses who want to expand their horizons, improve their career and bet on a long-term quality of life. Agencies such as Care With Care support candidates like you in every step of the way and support you long-term after your arrival.
It is a great time to be a nurse. Find out more about your opportunities. Sign up today and get in touch with CWC!
Learn about the Care With Care Journey and check out the stories of our nurses that have already moved to Germany.
News and stories about nursing jobs in Europe