I receive a fair amount of questions from people who want to work in Germany after they graduate... which is understandable. The training is excellent, and the quality of life is high. Many of these folks also ask about the language requirements for a job as an Assistenzarzt (resident) in Germany.

Traditionally, over the past several years, a B-2 level certification in German was sufficient for most positions (except Psychiatry and some other specialties that require a higher level of communication ability). Over the past year or so, that requirement seems to have been boosting itself gradually upward. I graduated last year with a guy who is now working in Germany, but the hospital actually held his position for him after graduation for a few months until he reached C-1 certification. Then they let him start.

This evening I received an email from a mid-range (by my reckoning) German recruiter, outlining some of the positions currently available through their firm. The email included a section which states the following: "Hervorragende Deutschkenntnisse, wünschenswert C1 (B2 ist absolute Mindestvoraussetzung – entsprechendes Sprachdiplom muss als Beleg vorliegen)." -or- "Excellent German knowledge, desired C1 (B2 is the absolute minimum requirement - appropriate language certificate must be included as evidence)."

All this to say... do NOT wait until you graduate to start those German classes, if you are serious about wanting to have Germany as a target market (or backup) for training and/or practice. Getting to C1 takes time and effort, do not underestimate this. If you know your stuff as a med student, have a great work ethic, are wonderful with people, but can't speak the language, they will not hire you. This happened to a friend of mine here in Switzerland. She is an excellent doc with several years of experience, so she sent in her credentials and received an interview... which lasted about five minutes. The general gist was "You are an interesting candidate, and you seem great, but your language skills are simply not up to snuff. Bye."