Studying Nursing Science in Germany
Nurses learn what's important when caring for people who are ill.
An article by Katharina Wagner in collaboration with Cornelia Weber
That is what it’s about
Nursing students learn how to care for old, ill and disabled people. They also, however, learn how care is organised in, e.g. hospitals, homes and at care services, and what economic and legal aspects need to be considered. In the first few semesters In Germany, Nursing students learn the basic principles of biology and medicine. Just like medical students, they also have to have in-depth knowledge of anatomy and human physiology. The work on the material mainly in projects and group work – often in relation to practical questions. If the cardiovascular system is being discussed, they simultaneously learn how to position someone with a cardiovascular disease and that the patient needs thrombosis socks. In what are called Skills Labs, students practise nursing activities – starting with the preparation of an infusion through to washing a patient. Communication theories, social law and ethics are other important contents of the academic studies. "Nurses are regularly faced with ethically problematic situations in their everyday working lives," says Johannes Korporal from the Board of the conference of deans of Nursing. "Nursing activities can't just be imposed and carried out, they have to be agreed." If, for example, a bed guard is to be attached, this requires the consent of the patient and family members. Anyone who wants to study Nursing has two options: either general nursing studies or studies with a specialisation in management or education. After completing the higher education entrance qualification, most students choose the first option and pursue dual studies, often with integrated training, for example as a health carer and nurse or a geriatric nurse. For academic studies that combine nursing with management or education, completed training is often required. Then either business aspects are the focus and the degree qualifies the student for management positions, or studies train teachers for future nurses. In Germany, the proportion of graduates of higher education institutions in Nursing is still low. "But in the coming years, there will be more and more nurses who study at university," says Korporal. What the ratio will be to non-academic nurses, which positions they will hold and which tasks they will perform still remains to be seen in the day-to-day of care facilities. One possible area of deployment are tasks that require a high level of coordination and problem-solving, e.g. in the care of patients who are suffering from several illnesses.
suitability, obstacles, misconceptions
Nursing students should not be afraid of interacting with people: they have to come into contact with people who have just vomited or treat wounds filled with pus. Dealing with people who need care and their relatives also requires them to have a high level of resilience, empathy and tact. Most Nursing degree courses in Germany have no admission restrictions. At some higher education institutions, tests and selection interviews are required; others require a completed training programme or work placement.