Coveted qualifications: how to become a nurse

How nurses and geriatric carers in Germany are trained, what their duties are and how much they earn.

A nurse undergoing training
A nurse undergoing training Getty Images/Justin Horrocks

Germany urgently needs more qualified nurses. The German government plans to create thousands of new jobs, and to make the profession more attractive so that more young people opt to train as a nurse. But how does one become a nurse, in fact?

What form does nursing training take?

Training takes three years. It is also possible to do the course part-time, in which case it will take longer. Training combines theory and practice budding nurses have 2,100 hours of classroom instruction at a vocational school. In addition, they spend 2,500 hours working in a hospital or nursing home, learning their profession under real-life conditions. At the end of their course they have to pass a state examination. From 2020, all the different nursing and care professions – e.g. geriatric, nursing and paediatric care – will be trained together for the first two years; in the third year they will then choose an area in which to specialise.

What are the duties of nurses and geriatric carers?

Geriatric nurses have duties in patient rehabilitation, therapy and general medical and nursing care: they help patients with eating and personal hygiene, administer drugs, measure blood pressure and change bandages. They also support patients during leisure activities.

Healthcare nurses work in hospitals or care homes. They monitor their patients’ condition, assist doctors during examinations and prepare operations. They also document the course of a patient’s illness or medical condition.

How much do nurses earn in Germany?

Trainee nurses are paid between 1,040 and 1,200 euros per month. The starting salary for fully-qualified healthcare nurses is around 2,500 euros.

What are working conditions like in nursing?

*Nurses need to be flexible because shift and weekend work is usual. They also need to be sensitive to the needs and emotions of others, must be able to cope with stress and be physically fit.

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