Health, care and support for those dependent on care are topics that affect everyone. This is also reflected in the number of staff working in these sectors. With 5.2 million employees and revenues of €328 billion in the core area in the year 2014, the healthcare sector is among the largest and most dynamic sectors in Germany’s economy, according to the Federal Statistical Office. When the secondary healthcare market – comprising all privately funded products and services and their expansion into other sectors – is also taken into consideration, the economic significance of the healthcare sector proves even greater. The regular introduction of new and innovative products and services makes the industry one of the strongest-growing employment sectors. The healthcare sector offers services and products that are linked to maintaining or restoring health. These include the services of medical professionals, products related to medical technology and the pharmaceutical industry.
Germany is characterised by an excellent health system. One reason for this is that Germany places a major emphasis on extensive medical training and regular further training programmes. The level of healthcare provision in Germany is also high when viewed in international terms. On average, there is one doctor available for every 221 residents. Some 365,247 employed physicians work in a wide range of institutions. These include well-equipped hospitals affiliated with cities, churches or organisations; university hospitals; private practices and clinics; prevention and rehabilitation centres; and pharmaceutical research labs.
Interestingly, the number of employed physicians in Germany with a migrant background has more than doubled in the past ten years. The number was around 37,878 in 2015. Of the newly registered physicians in Germany in 2014, around 30 percent were of foreign background. Still, the need for physicians will continue to increase due to demographic change and technological advances.
Without well-trained caregivers, a functioning health and care system would be unthinkable. Health, nursing, paediatric and geriatric caregivers make a considerable contribution to society. They are responsible for caring for patients and care recipients in almost 2,000 hospitals and more than 12,400 care facilities and services.
Caregiving professions are becoming increasingly popular. In the autumn of 2012, some 58,300 young adults nationwide began their training in a caregiving profession. Still, there remains a tremendous shortage of workers in this field. Due to demographic change, an even greater number of caregivers will be needed in the coming years.
The job description in the health and nursing field comprises the independent observation, consultation, support and care of patients in an in-patient or outpatient setting. Additionally, it includes the documentation and evaluation of caregiving measures as well as carrying out doctor’s orders and providing assistance during medical procedures. At the same time, health and nursing professionals serve as a point of contact for patients’ relatives.
The task of health and paediatric nursing professionals consists of caring for infants, children and adolescents who are sick or dependent on care. This includes recognising needs and providing assistance based on the child’s stage of development, as well as supporting relatives during critical situations. Members of the paediatric nursing profession primarily work in the neonatal or children’s ward of hospitals, or provide outpatient paediatric nursing care outside of hospitals. They also work in paediatric clinics and other special facilities for children.
The past years have seen an increase in both the number of students training in the health and nursing field as well as the number of those training in the health and paediatric nursing field.
Receiving proper care in one’s old age is an essential human need. That’s why professional geriatric nursing – along with personal care at home – plays such an important role in Germany.
The geriatric nursing profession is characterised by close interaction with individuals who are dependent on special care or assistance. It is demanding and diverse. The area of long-term care, in particular, offers many opportunities for development, various fields of application, and very promising employment prospects. Geriatric nursing is one of the service industries currently experiencing particular growth. The number of geriatric nursing professionals increased more than 100 percent between the years of 1999 and 2013, reaching nearly 230,000. During the same time frame, the total number of workers in the area of long-term care increased by more than 60 percent to almost one million workers, according to nursing care statistics from 2013. In view of demographic change, the demand for qualified geriatric nursing professionals is steadily increasing. Already today, for every 100 job vacancies for geriatric nursing professionals, there are only 36 applicants seeking employment (Federal Employment Agency, Bottleneck Analysis, June 2015). There are currently around 2.6 million individuals dependent on care. This number will continue to increase over the coming decades.
Study on employment in health and care professions (PDF, 679 KB) (German)
Study on age structure and the development of the number of doctors in Germany (PDF, 1,31 MB) (German)
Figures, data and facts about the German healthcare system (German, English)
Recognition of health and care professions obtained outside of Germany (i.a. German, English, Spanish, Italian, Polish)
Umbrella organisation for the self-government of the medical profession in Germany (German, English, French)
Training nurses from Vietnam to become geriatric nurses in Germany (German, English)