Doctors: How to apply for specialty training in Austria

How to apply for a medical or surgical specialty training post in Austria with a UK/Foreign medical degree:

It’s no secret that the UK no longer has the greenest pastures for doctors or those considering a career in medicine. Applications to UK medical schools keep falling year on year and more doctors drop out of medicine entirely or leave the UK during or after foundation training.

If you’re one such dispairing junior doctor then you’re not alone:

During my F2 (PGY2) year I decided to quit and apply to continue my training in German-speaking Europe. A couple of months (and a few much needed holidays) later I got a great training job in a Swiss university teaching hospital. Since then I’ve received endless questions from friends and colleages on how to do the same. Whether you’ve made a decision to go abroad or are just curious, I break it down for you here:

 

Austrian Medical System & Training pathway:

After medical school, newly graduated doctors undergo 9 months of “Basisausbildung”, roughly equivalent to UK’s F1 year. Thereafter one applies directly to the specialty of choice for training, which lasts on average 6 years, after which one becomes “Facharzt” or a Specialist. For most specialties these are cross-recognized between UK and Austria, and after attaining Facharzt in Austria one would be elgible for CCT in the UK.

Medical School:  6 years
Basisausbildung:  9 months
Specialty Training: 5-6 years

Unlike in the UK, doctors are not forced to rotate periodically at fixed intervals throughout their training. You can stay in one Hospital/city/town for your entire specialty training should you choose to. Where you work for how long is entirely up to you. Don’t like your current department/hospital/city? Just apply elsewhere and continue. Love it and ready to settle down in one place, buy a house/get a dog/keep your friends? Stay.

Hierarchy and Equivalent nomenclature:

Assistenzarzt/in = Resident, doctor in Training for specialty
Facharzt = Specialist
Oberarzt = Consultant
Chefarzt = Departmental Lead doctor

Entry after Foundation training (F1 & F2) or Core Training in the UK:

You can likely enter straight into the specialty of your choice as Assistenzarzt year 1. You’ll have likely done enough of other specialties in your F2 rotation, and certainly after core training to satisfy departmental Chiefs that you have some general experience. It’s then advisable to complete all of your specialty training in Europe (non-UK) as the pathways are similar and largely interchangeable.

Entry at SpR/registrar levels:

The Österreichische Akademie der Ärzte publishes details on each specialty and on how to get training from abroad recognized. You’ll be credited to your level and complete specialty training in the appropriately reduced time.

Life as a doctor in Austria

As anywhere, hours worked vary greatly by specialty, but overall hours worked are significantly less than in the UK. Quality of life is exceedingly important to austrians, and austrian doctors are no exception. It’s not uncommon to finish work by 3:30pm daily in certain specialties, with the rest of the day free to actually enjoy life.

Salary:

There is slight variation between individual Hospitals and different parts of the country, but as a general ball-park figure expect between €5000-€7000 monthly for a junior doctor in the first 1-3 years of training. Salaries are paid out 14 times a year.

Yes, you read that right. Twice a year, in December (Chrismas bonus) and June (Summer holiday bonus), you receive double pay. These exta payments are also nearly tax-free. To work out the Annual salary, multiply your expected monthly by 14.

Example Monthly Salary at a university hospital in Vienna (Years 1-3):

Basic salary                           €3,891.34
1 Weekend On-call (49hrs) €1,828.64
Nightshifts (Weekdays)       €720.20
Total                                       €6,440.18

Approx. Annual Salary      €85,000

On-calls and overtime are paid separately on top of your base salary, so will vary from month to month depending on how many you work. Generally you are paid for all hours worked, as overtime is recorded.

Application Process

Unlike in the UK where all applications are standardised and condensed into a single number by which you are ranked against your peers nationally, in the rest of Europe applications are much more old-fashioned:

Each doctor is responsible for their own application “portfolio” entirely and makes direct applications to heads of departments in their target specialty and hospital.

Your application should include:

  • Cover/Motivation letter – this is the most important part of your application. Ideally written in formal letter format and one page long explaining your motivations to work at that hospital/in that specialty and why they should hire you.
  • CV/Resume (more on Medical CVs for Europe here)
  • Copy of your medical degree/other degrees (English original is fine)

Send that to the “Chefarzt” or departmental lead of your desired workplace, and with any luck that will land you an interview.

My interview was short and conversational:

They know your background and academic achievements from your application. The interview will largely be to gague you as a person, and whether they want you on the team. Remember, in Europe doctors can stay at one hospital/team for several years.

Once you’ve secured a job, or simultaneously as you apply, you’ll want to get on the Austrian Medical Register, known as “Nostrifikation”:

The medical regulator in Austria is the Österreichische Ärztekammer.

General Requirements for medical registration in Austria:

  • Medical Degree attained within the EU/ECC
  • Certificate of Good Standing from the GMC
  • Languages: German and English ability to B2 level. Austria administers it’s own german test for doctors, it can be booked here. You’re exempt from the test if you completed Matura (high school) or a university-level degree at a german-speaking institution, worked for 3 years in a german-speaking country, or completed a medical exit exam in a german-speaking country.
  • Right to work in Austria

That’s it! Good luck!

Feel free to post questions below for anything I haven’t covered and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Innsbruck-Winter-2010kl
Innsbruck, Austria

How to apply for a specialty training post in Germany

(coming soon)

Coming back to the UK after specialty Training in Austria / Germany / Switzerland

Whether each “Facharzt” qualification is recognized in the UK as completion of specialty training depends on each speciality’s own Royal College. Every specialty I’ve so far inquired about is mutually recognized across the UK and Austria/Switzerland/Germany (and I wager nearly all are), which means after completing specialty training in the above countries you are eligible to enter the GMC specialist register in the UK.

In theory this means you can apply for consultant postions in the UK, but in reality you’ll likely want to do a senior fellowship before you take on a consultant post.

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35 thoughts on “Doctors: How to apply for specialty training in Austria

  1. Ow I do have a question for now I realize, is it also a possibility to enter at the level of Basisausbildung?
    If so, also by applying?

    Like

    1. You can enter at Basisausbildung but you must have completed FY1 in the UK first (if that’s where you’ve trained). You can enter after Basisausbildung if you’ve completed FY2 in the UK. Hope that helps!

      Like

      1. Hi Anjani!
        Thank you for your previous replies and info.
        I am trained in the Netherlands, graduated, worked 1 year in the ICU dept, and now finishing my PhD in medicine.
        I think this should make me eligible to enter at the Basisausbilding at least? But maybe also at the speciality training level?
        Do you know which institutes in Vienna and/or cities around Vienna are good (reachable on a daily basis when living in Vienna) for psychiatry training?

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      2. Hi Deborah, yes I think you could be eligible for specialty, but it will be at the disgression of the department you apply to. St Pölten, Krems, Baden, and Wiener Neustadt are all popular cities/towns near vienna for people to work at. Good luck, let me know how you get on!

        Like

  2. Dear Anjani – can a graduate from UK or Ireland apply into the Basisausbildung directly (ie. before even starting FY1)? I’ve wrecked my head researching and cannot find the answer anywhere. Thank you so much! – Gillian

    Like

    1. Hi Gilian, I can confirm that you must finish FY1 before you’re eligible for Basisausbildung. The reason for this is:
      1) You’re not eligible for full registration with the GMC or any medical body before FY1 is completed
      2) FY1 is considered part of the training and is equivalent to medical school internship in some other countries.
      Hope that helps!

      Like

  3. Hi Anjani. I am interested in gs, and was originally heading for the uk, but am now having second thoughts b/c of all the problems you mentioned in your article. Could you please comment on the competitiveness of surgical specialties in Austria? I imagine that Vienna would largely be off reach for foreigners, but what of the smaller towns?

    Like

    1. Hi Nick,
      Vienna will be very competitive indeed, but smaller towns can be surprisingly uncompetitive! Some beautiful cities across the country occasionally struggle to attract enough applicants, so definitely give it a go! Competitiveness of individual specialties is similar to the rest of europe: Opthalmology, ENT, plastics, are all highly competitive. I’ll be interested to hear what you decide to do and how it goes, so please so send me an update 🙂 I’m sure other readers would be keen to hear your experience too.

      Like

  4. Hello Anjani, thanks so much for the information…. I’m a Nigerian,got my degree from Uganda, will it be possible for me to apply for Basisausbildung at least as I want to move to Austria.

    Like

    1. You have to first get registration with the Österreichische Ärztekammer, once you have it you can apply. Visa and immigration is a separate issue though, and you need to make sure you have that first. Good luck!

      Like

  5. Hi Anjani, this article is very helpful, thank you! In a previous comment you wrote that the most competitive specialties are opthalmology, ENT and plastics, and you did not mention dermatology. I am studying in Budapest and here dermatology is highly competitive, does it mean that it is different there? Is it possible to get a job as a resident in vienna or near to it?

    Like

  6. Oh and one more question: in Hungary we start specialising right after graduation, and it takes 5 years. In the first two years we rotate, but I dont think this is equivalent with FY1, and you wrote you need this to apply to Basisausbildung. So is it possible for me to apply to Basisausbildung after graduation?

    Like

    1. Yes, if you complete your medical internships as part of your degree, and after medical school you enter straight into specialisation, then you can apply straight to Basisausbildung.

      Like

  7. I am a graduate from China . the entire course duration was of 6 years( theory plus clinical internship)
    How should i start ?
    I have no idea about fy1 and basisausbildung ?

    Like

  8. Hi Anjani,

    this is the best and most informative article about medical residency in Austria so far I have read. Tnx you alot. Although, I have some questions. I am medical doctor from Croatia and I decided to do Specialty training in Austira, my point of interes is Cardiac Surgery. I have worked in ER in Croatia for 2 years.
    – What is with `Turnusarzt’ system in Austria (3 years of general practice), does it exist anymore?
    – Do they value previous ER job and experience?
    – Do you know situation with Cardiac Surgery, is it competitive in Vienna? I do prefer other cities too, like Graz, Klagenfurt, Salzburg, Linz. Do you know situation in those cities?
    -What is salary in Basisausbildung? Does salary very differ in Austria from city to city or from specialty to specialty?
    – How long did it take for you to learn German? I am starting B2 now, and planned about 6 months to get to C1.

    Thank you for answers.

    Like

  9. Hi Anjani. thanks for the post great info. I wanted to ask you how can I find a job or a hospital etc.. for Basisausbildung? I am graduated from Bulgaria. I have my diploma (and transcript), certificate of good standing, and another paper that is about working permit in Austria. Also I have a B2 level German language certificate (ÖSD).

    What should I do now to start Basisausbildung in Austria ? Right now I am doing an unpaid internship in Austria, and I am so lost about what to do so I can start working in Austria. I have a visa till the middle of February 2019 (non eu citizenship) , so I have to start or at least find a work during this time. If you could help me out I would be grateful and buy you cookies with my first sallary too.

    Like

    1. You need to apply directly the the hospital department you want to work at. Usually email the secretary of the Chefarzt or the Chefarzt themselves with your application.
      It’s geat that you are in austria right now because you’ll have better chances if you can visit them in person, and appear for interviews easily.

      Like

  10. Hi Anjani. thanks for the post great info. I wanted to ask you how can I find a job or a hospital etc.. for Basisausbildung? I am graduated from Bulgaria. I have my diploma (and transcript), certificate of good standing, and another paper that is about working permit in Austria. Also I have a B2 level German language certificate (ÖSD).

    What should I do now to start Basisausbildung in Austria ? Right now I am doing an unpaid internship (in Austria), and I am so lost about what to do so I can start working. I have a visa till the middle of February 2019 (non eu citizenship) , so I have to start or at least find a work during this time. If you could help me out I would be grateful and buy you cookies with my first sallary too.

    Like

  11. Hi
    I am Dr daraeizadeh MD.( specialist in internal medcine) with 4 years occupational history of working, could I get any fellowships in treatmental bronchoscopy ?
    Tnx

    Like

    1. Hi daraeizadeh,
      Of course I can’t tell you definitively based off that information whether you would be successful or not, but I don’t see any reason not to apply and try.

      Like

  12. Hi
    I am Dr daraeizadeh MD.( specialist in internal medcine) with 4 years occupational history of working, would I get any fellowships in treatmental bronchoscopy?
    Tnx

    Like

  13. Hi Anjani,

    this is the best and most informative article about medical residency in Austria so far I have read. Tnx you alot. Although, I have some questions. I am medical doctor from Croatia and I decided to do Specialty training in Austira, my point of interes is Cardiac Surgery. I have worked in ER in Croatia for 2 years.
    – What is with `Turnusarzt’ system in Austria (3 years of general practice), does it exist anymore?
    – Do they value previous ER job and experience?
    – If I have already worked in ER for 2 years, do I go in second Stufe?
    – Do you know situation with Cardiac Surgery, is it competitive in Vienna? I do prefer other cities too, like Graz, Klagenfurt, Salzburg, Linz. Do you know situation in those cities?
    -What is salary in Basisausbildung? Does salary very differ in Austria from city to city or from specialty to specialty? Also, this salary you mentioned is I assume brutto?
    – How long did it take for you to learn German? I am starting B2 now, and planned about 6 months to get to C1.

    Thank you for answers

    Like

    1. Hi Montecristo,
      – Turnusarzt is being phased out and replaced with Basisausbildung + specialty training (GP or otherwise)
      – All good job experience is valuable
      – If you want to specialise in cardiac surgery then your ER experience won’t count towards that training. You’ll have to do the full duration. You’ll likely be able to skip basisausbildung, but that depends on the disgression of the professor/Chefarzt you apply to directly.
      – Yes as everywhere cardiac surgery is competitive and you’ll have better chances outside of the main cities, in satellite cities or towns which generally have better working conditions anyway.
      – Yes salaries metioned is brutto, and varies slightly between hospitals and cities but not too much as far as I’m aware.
      – I’m half Austrian so I’ve been speaking german from birth.
      Good luck! Do let me know how it goes and what you decide to do!

      Like

      1. Thank you for answers Anjani.
        My plan is now is to learn German till June or July (currently I am on A2) and then apply for Basisausbildung.
        I’ll be grateful if you can tell me in which satellite cities or towns cardiac surgery is practiced.
        Vielan Dank, Tshüss.

        Like

  14. Thank you Anjani for this wonderful informaton.
    I am a Nigerian, and also a final year medical student in Hungary.
    I am currently doing my one year internship which is the same thing as my 6th year (final year). I shall graduate next year.
    I am in my B1 german level. I am interested in NEUROSURGERY, PLASTIC SURGERY or CARDIAC SURGERY.
    How do i apply for Basisausbildung? Are there any recommended hospitals/small cities/links for this Basisausbildung registration?

    here is my email jovialemy@gmail.com
    I await your kind acceptance.

    Danke schon

    Like

    1. Hi, Once you’re on the register you can apply directly the hospitals you want to work at. The level of the exam to get on the register is at about B2 level, so I suggest you do that first and then look for jobs once you’re on the medical register.

      Like

  15. Hello anjani, I am from Thailand and in my last year of medical school in Poland however there I got a Famulatur placement at LKH Graz for six months . have a question you had mentioned that the Ärztekammer will set a medical German examination for non German speaker . My question is how do I prepare for this examination . Any tips and advice . Last but not least , what are the differences for example pros and cons between working as a doctor in Germany and Austria . What are your opinions and recommendation

    Like

    1. Hi lester!
      In terms of preparing for the medical german exam: As far as I’m aware there are no specific course/books/revision material for this, but just knowing everyday german may not be enough. I would recommend finding medical textbooks in german, or reading medical publications in german just to become familiar with the scientific/medical terms used. Once you feel comfortable discussing, for instance, diagnosis and management in german then you should have no problems with the exam!
      Regarding practising medicine in germany versus austria: There’s a number key differences here. Germany is more research focused than Austria. If research opportunities are important to you then worth bearing in mind. Germany pays a little bit more, but you work much longer hours than in Austria. Overall if you’re after lifestyle, Austria would probably be a better choice. If you’re after a thriving medical career with plenty of clinical and research opportunities, you’ll want to consider Germany. Hope that helps!

      Like

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