Top 10: Residency programs in Germany


Specialties for physicians m/f/d - which are the most popular trainings?

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The top ten specialist trainings for doctors in Germany


Every year, more than 10,000 new specialist titles are awarded in Germany. A clear trend is emerging as to which specialties are most popular among young physicians. An interesting picture of the mood emerges from the occupational monitoring of students by the Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in 2018. Here, medical students were asked, among other things, about the specialty in which they would like to pursue further medical training following their studies. The frontrunners are internal medicine, general medicine and anesthesiology, followed by pediatrics and adolescent medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, orthopedics and trauma surgery, and neurology.

Furthermore, every year the German Medical Association publishes physician statistics, in which all newly awarded specialist titles are recorded. Analyzing the data from the 2021 Physician Statistics, we see that nearly half (49 %) of all specialty titles awarded fall into just five of the most popular specialties. More than two-thirds (69 %) of specialty credentials are distributed among ten of more than 50 possible specialty titles. This confirms the sentiment of the career monitoring of medical students and shows that there are clear favorites among young physicians regarding the specialties for continuing medical education.


Graphic: Top 10 most popular specialties
Top 10 most popular specialties: which specialties were of interest to young physicians m/f/d in 2021? 

The following is a brief presentation of the specialties of the ten most frequently awarded specialist titles in 2021.

Rank 1: Internal Medicine

As a specialist in internal medicine, one deals with the prevention, diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation of diseases of the internal organ systems. The following table shows the different areas of treatment in internal medicine.

Treatment area Indication
Pneumology Diseases of the respiratory organs
Cardiology Diseases of the heart and circulation
Gastroenterology Diseases of the digestive organs
Nephrology Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract
Hematology Diseases of the blood and hematopoietic organs
Angiology Diseases of the vascular system
Endocrinology & Diabetology Metabolic diseases
Immunology Diseases of the immune system
Rheumatology Diseases of the supporting and connective tissue
Infectiology and clinical toxicology Infectious diseases and poisoning
Oncology solid tumors and hematologic neoplasms

Internal medicine is thus a very broad and multifaceted specialty and already offers the opportunity to specialize in a particular area during residency training.
The residency in the field of Internal Medicine lasts five years.
If you decide directly on a specific focus, the training period is six years.

Rank 2: General Medicine

General Medicine includes acute, long-term and emergency medical care for physical and mental health disorders regardless of age or gender. As a specialist in general medicine, one is available to patients as the first medical point of contact for health problems. General practitioners play an important role as family doctors, whereby treatment is carried out in the family and social context, taking into account a holistic understanding of the case, and is usually characterized by a long-standing relationship of trust. If the specialist competence is exceeded, treatment is transferred to a corresponding specialist. In this way, general practice ensures the interdisciplinary coordination of care and thus assumes an important function in the health care system.
The period of further training to become a specialist in General Medicine is five years.

Rank 3: Anesthesiology

As an anesthesiologist, one is responsible for any form of anesthesia, be it general, regional or local, as well as for its pre- and post-anaesthesia care. Another important task is to ensure that patients' vital functions are maintained during surgical and diagnostic procedures or other medical measures.
The title of specialist in Anesthesiology is awarded after five years of further training.

Rank 4: Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery

The specialty of orthopedics and trauma surgery is a branch of surgery. It deals with the prevention, diagnosis and conservative and surgical treatment of surgical diseases, injuries or malformations of the musculoskeletal system. Another task is the aftercare and rehabilitation following surgical interventions.
Further training to become a specialist in Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery takes six years.

Rank 5: Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

A specialist in pediatrics and adolescent medicine is responsible for the preventive and curative treatment of infants, toddlers, children and adolescents and thus forms an age-limited part of general medicine. Consequently, pediatric and adolescent medicine requires special expertise in age-related changes in physical processes as well as mental development. Treatment is usually carried out holistically in a family and social context, with the involvement of parents or other guardians.
The duration of continuing medical education in the field of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine is five years.
In addition, there are various advanced training courses in which you can specialize further in a particular area of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine within two years. These include, for example, Pediatric and Adolescent Cardiology or Neonatology..

Rank 6: Gynecology and Obstetrics

Gynecology is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and conservative as well as surgical treatment of gender-specific diseases in women. Important fields of treatment are gynecological oncology, endocrinology and reproductive medicine. In the field of pre- and perinatal medicine, obstetrics includes the care and monitoring of pregnancies, births and postpartum processes.
The period of further training to obtain the specialist title in Gynecology and Obstetrics is five years.
Here, too, various specialization designations can be acquired as part of an additional two-year continuing education program. This enables more in-depth specialization, for example in Gynecological Oncology or special Obstetrics and Perinatal Medicine.

Rank 7: Neurology

Neurology deals with the structure, function and diseases of the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous system including the musculature. As a specialist in neurology, one is responsible for the prevention and diagnosis of such health disorders as well as for the subsequent adequate therapy and rehabilitation.
The period of further training for the specialist title in Neurology is five years.

Rank 8: Internal Medicine and Cardiology

Cardiology is a specialization in the field of internal medicine and deals with diseases of the cardiovascular system as well as special cardiological aspects of disease. The tasks of a cardiologist include the application of various diagnostic procedures and the implementation of conservative and interventional therapies as well as rehabilitation.
Further training to become a specialist in Internal Medicine and Cardiology takes six years.

Rank 9: Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

As a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy, one deals with the prevention, detection and somatotherapeutic, psychotherapeutic as well as social-psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation of mental diseases and disorders. The anamnesis and diagnostic findings are taken from a holistic perspective of the patient, including family, psychosocial, age-specific and transcultural aspects. In addition to treating mental illnesses and disorders, addiction medicine is also an important component of psychiatry and psychotherapy.
The specialist title is acquired through five years of continuing medical education.
It may be supplemented by an additional two years of specialization training in Forensic Psychiatry.

Rank 10: Radiology

The duties of a radiology specialist include the use of ionizing radiation, nuclear physics, sonographic procedures, and minimally invasive radiological procedures to detect and treat disease. In order to avoid harm to patients and medical personnel from ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, all diagnostic and therapeutic applications must be performed in compliance with the necessary radiation protection measures.
The period of training to become a specialist in Radiology is five years.
Also in this specialty, an additional specialty designation in Pediatric and Adolescent Radiology or Neuroradiology may be obtained.



How to find the right job in your preferred area of expertise

Would you also like to start residency training or have you already obtained your specialist title and are now looking for the right position? Then become part of our MedicalTalentNetwork and benefit from the support of our experienced recruiting team during your application process as well as from our nationwide contacts to clinics and medical facilities. Or apply directly in our job portal to one of the numerous job offers for physicians.

MedicalTopJobs Tip: Read also our article on Further medical training for doctors in Germany - Your pathway to a specialist title.


Bundesärztekammer (2021): Ärztestatistik zum 31. Dezember 2021. Abgerufen am 20.04.2023.

Bundesärztekammer (2022): (Muster-)Weiterbildungsordnung 2018 in der Fassung vom 25.06.2022. Abgerufen am 20.04.2023.

Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung (2018): Berufsmonitoring Medizinstudierende 2018. Abgerufen am 20.04.2023.

By Eva Meixner