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MHB doubles intake of medical students

Neuruppin, 19 August 2019

The Brandenburg Medical School (MHB) doubles the number of places available for medical studies starting next year. This increases the number of students per year starting medical studies from 48 to 96. One effect is that beginners can now start not only in the summer semester but also in the winter semester. A first small cohort of 24 additional beginners will be admitted for the coming winter term 2019/20.

According to MHB president Prof. Edmund Neugebauer, this is another significant step to secure and improve medical care in Brandenburg: “One of the main objectives in founding the MHB in 2014 was to alleviate the shortage of medical services that is clearly felt today in rural Brandenburg and will increase in future.

The plan to accept 48 medical students per semester had been agreed some time ago. Now that the state of Brandenburg launched a scholarship programme for medical students with preferential treatment for MHB students in July 2019, we have decided to admit an additional 24 beginners to medical studies for the coming winter term.

From approximately 700 applicants for medicine per year we invite the 144 best for personal interviews and then have to select 48; from the last selection procedure we still had a number of tested and highly qualified candidates to whom we offered these 24 additional places, and the places were taken in no time at all. The contacted candidates were surprised and pleased, and we are looking forward to receiving another very special group of prospective physicians.”

The Neuruppin campus will see even more newcomers in future.

Background

The state of Brandenburg has the lowest physician density compared to the rest of the country. Official figures for the end of 2018 report 186 doctors in Brandenburg per 100,000 inhabitants. The figures for Bremen (highest density) are 296, and 205 for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. While the national average is one panel physician per 680 inhabitants, the figure for Brandenburg is 733. This means that physicians in Brandenburg provide medical care to more patients than elsewhere. The numbers of general practitioners as well as of specialists have increased continuously over the past years, but an ageing population implies a growing shortage of physicians. The situation in Brandenburg will be quite dramatic in the near future. Successors for 45 surgeries are already needed today, with general medicine, paediatrics, ophthalmology, urology and psychotherapy as specialist areas with the greatest demand.

Another problem: physicians in Brandenburg are older compared to other federal states. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians KVBB reports the average age of panel doctors as 54.4 years; 32% of family doctors and 28% of specialists were over 60 by the end of last year. Accordingly, many of the approximately 3860 doctors providing outpatient services will retire in the next few years and look for successors. Estimates say about 700 general practitioners and 950 specialists will need to be replaced by 2025, and hospital demands have not even been considered in these calculations. Considerable additional efforts are required to secure in and outpatient services specifically in rural and structurally weak regions.

The Brandenburg government in collaboration with the KVBB launched a so called country doctor programme in July to recruit young doctors for Brandenburg. The concept comprises well-endowed grants for medical students willing to commit at least five years to working as a country doctor. Approximately 15.4 million EUR from the Brandenburg budget are earmarked for this purpose until 2022. Cottbus is scheduled to become the location of another medical school, which, however, will not start operations before the winter term of 2023/24; the first graduates may then be expected for 2029.

Brandenburg was the only non-city state in Germany without a medical school of its own before the MHB was founded in 2014 as a non-profit institution under municipal sponsorship. About 410 students are currently enrolled in the departments of medicine and psychology, 235 of them in medicine. The first MHB graduates of medicine will complete their practical year and their studies in 2021.

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