Information about the Specialist Language Examination at the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians


The North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians took over the specialist language examination for the district governments Düsseldorf and Cologne on 1 January 2014. The takeover of the specialist language examination for foreign doctors by the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians goes back to a decision of the North Rhine-Westphalian government. Previously in North Rhine, officials of the district governments had set the specialist language examination. The test is based on the model of an OSCE examination.


Course of the proceedings

There are no changes to the application process for the license to practice as a doctor. The processing of applications for the issuing of licences remains the task of the competent district government in Düsseldorf or Cologne.

If the competent district government has sufficiently reviewed the application for a license and deems a specialist language examination to be necessary, it sends the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians the necessary data.

District governments in North Rhine

That means that personal registration is not necessary.

After the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians has received the data from the respective district government, it usually contacts the applicant by e-mail and requests the applicant to pay the management fee for the specialist examination of currently 350 Euro. After receipt of the fee, the applicant is then allocated the next possible examination date and receives a letter from the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians giving the examination date and all the necessary information for the examination. The letter also contains the time at which the applicant is to arrive at the examination centre. The time is to be observed precisely, as late appearance counts as failure of the examination.

The examination centre is the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians, Tersteegenstr. 9, 40474 Düsseldorf


Note: At this point, it is already possible for the applicant to co-determine the prospective examination date. The invitation to the examination is issued when the payment is transferred.


Examination procedure

The specialist language examination should be as practically relevant as possible. All elements are already known from the daily work in the hospital. The examination relates only to the specialist language and not to the basic medical knowledge.

For the specialist language examination, it is not relevant whether a wrong diagnosis is made or an incorrect treatment option is given. Only the language used when dealing with the respective situation is included in the evaluation.

The 60-minute examination is divided into 3 sections of 20 minutes each.

  1. Doctor - patient discussion
  2. Documentation
  3. Doctor - doctor discussion
1. Doctor - patient discussion

The examinee holds an anamnesis interview with a patient. The role of the patient is played by an actor. However, the examinee is to treat him like a normal patient. In this way, the doctor - patient interview can be simulated as it is known from everyday treatment.

This method ensures that each examinee receives an equally difficult case.

The anamnesis interview is carried out exactly as learnt during the degree. After the examinee has formed ​​a picture of the patient, he explains his suspected diagnosis and gives the patient suggestions for further diagnosis and treatment. He should explain to the patient what he considers to be useful measures and respond to questions.

It should be observed that patients are unfamiliar with medical terminology. It is important that the patient can understand the doctor to be tested properly and well.

2. Documentation

In the second section, the examinee is to transfer the anamnesis to an anamnesis sheet. For this, the candidate receives a ready-made form from the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians, as is used, in principal, in every hospital in the area of the chamber.

Sample of the anamnesis sheet (The sheet does not need to be brought to the examination)

3. Doctor-doctor discussion

The third section of the examination simulates the situation of a ward round. Here the examinee meets two doctors (for example, a chief physician and a senior physician). The examinee gives the doctors a structured description of the patient seen in section 1.

The discussion partners are doctors, so no layman’s language is to be used, but rather, medical terminology for communication. It is important to clarify the information about the patient in a carefully structured approach. In so doing, the examinee should also explain his own assessment of the situation and his ideas for further treatment.

After the patient presentation, the two doctors will ask some questions on this. The medical colleagues can also submit further documentation on the patient to the examinee for him to evaluate.


Assessment of the examination

Each examinee is assessed by three examiners. The examiners work with structured assessment sheets. After completing the examination, the assessment sheets of the individual examiners are collected and analysed centrally. Each sheet contains a maximum of 20 points. This means that each examinee can attain a maximum of 60 points. To pass the specialist language examination, 60 percent of the maximum number of points, or at least 36 points have to be achieved.


Aids during the examination

At the start of the examination, each examinee is provided with an empty notepad and a pen. The notes are not included in the assessment of the examination. Other aids are not permitted. Also, no luggage, handbags, jackets, coats or the like may be taken into the examination rooms.

In the reception area of the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians, a cloakroom and lockers are available (deposit 1 Euro).

During the examination, telephone calls and any contact with uninvolved persons is considered cheating and will lead to failure of the examination.


Pass / fail

The result of the examination is given to the examinee on the day of the examination and the competent district government notified. Further processing takes place there.

The examination is considered passed if the examinee attains at least 60 percent (at least 36 points) of the maximum number of points possible.

The examination is considered failed if the examinee attains less than 60 percent (less than 36 points) of the maximum number of points possible.

In case of failure, the specialist language examination can be repeated several times. The examinee is sent information on re-examination by the North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians straightaway.

The North Rhine State Chamber of Physicians recommends that you schedule a few months between the examination dates, to allow time for further language training. For repeat examinations, the examination fee of currently 350 Euros is payable each time.