Another physician for the State of Brandenburg

Neuruppin, 10 March 2022

Alaa Maksoud, 26-year-old physician from Syria, is one of the first successful graduates of a support programme at the MHB to facilitate “integration through qualification (IQ)”. The programme aims to sustainably improve the integration into the labour market of people with a migration background. The joint project of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Employment Agency is co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BAMS) and the European Social Funds (ESF).

Upon her arrival in Germany in 2019, Alaa Maksoud had already completed a six-year course of medical studies in English at the renowned Kalamoon University near Damaskus in her homeland Syria. She started the course when she was 17, acquired much practical experience as part of her training, and graduated with a final thesis on valvular heart diseases. The political situation at home was one of her reasons to leave Syria.

Playing a part in improving medical care

As a student Alaa Maksoud had heard about opportunities for further medical education in Germany and a shortage of physicians primarily in rural areas. In July 2019 she came to Luckau in the south of Brandenburg with plans of specialising and subsequently practicing medicine in the region. She learned German fast and acquired the language certificate level B2 after only six months. An internship in internal medicine at the local clinic in Luckau went so well that she was offered an employment contract. But she opted for an additional internship in psychiatry in North Rhine-Westphalia, aiming to improve her language proficiency and gain more practical experience. After only one year in Germany, Alaa Maksoud passed the exam in medical terminology level C1 and returned to Brandenburg early in 2020.In Bernau near Berlin she worked as a physician with a temporary occupation permit.

Determination of equivalence

During her time on the neurology ward Alaa Maksoud prepared for the exam which the Federal Medical Code demands from physicians from non-EU countries to demonstrate the equivalence of their academic training and medical skills before they acquire the license to practice medicine in Germany. “This is where our nationwide IQ network offers assistance”, so Jana Kirchberger who is in charge of the IQ project at the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane (MHB). A preparation course funded by the Brandenburg IQ network in July 2021 came at the right time for Alaa Maksoud: “The online format of the 6-month course made it possible for me to participate after or sometimes during working hours. On my way home after work I used to log in to the course via smartphone. Coaching sessions in small groups, case discussions and exam simulations with medical instructors from practice gave excellent insights into test contents, and regular exchange with colleagues also proved to be very helpful.”

Success rate of 100%

Jana Kirchberger is highly pleased to note that all participants of this first course at the MHB successfully passed the exam and in November 2021 gained full recognition of their professional qualifications and the license to practice medicine in Brandenburg. In the case of Alaa the entire procedure was gratifyingly short due to her linguistic talents and her outstanding motivation, so Kirchberger.

The second course, fully booked with 25 registrations, has already started. The demand is there, and Kirchberger recommends early registration for the following course which is scheduled to begin in July.

Alaa Maksoud plans to start her specialisation in surgery in April. The highly motivated and excellently qualified physician is an asset for the State of Brandenburg, and others will hopefully follow.

Jana Renate Kirchberger
Project manager, IQ subproject “Preparation for equivalence exam for physicians”
Phone: +49 3391 39-14174