If the Germans could bake a foreign nurse, she would probably be like Nayeli Bautista Hernández. A 29-year-old Mexican from Oaxaca crossed the pond three years ago, initially caring for elderly people in a home 30 kilometers north of Munich, and now assisting as a nurse in the most difficult surgeries at a Munich hospital. He says many foreign nurses would enroll directly:
“Germany urgently needs a large number of workers in the health sector. I was well prepared thanks to the in-home training. But the most difficult thing here is the language. “
Bautista Hernández’s workplace reflects the German reality in 2022 in care. And it is a foretaste of what the future of this country may look like in the face of a dramatic shortage of staff: the Mexican woman has in her ward, in addition to specialists from Germany, also colleagues from China, Bosnia and Croatia.
Competition for nurses is becoming more acute
There are already 200,000 nurses short of work, and according to calculations by the German Economic Institute in Cologne, this terrifying figure will increase to half a million in the next few years. Nurses from Vietnam, the Balkans and Latin America should help solve the problem of German supply.
Meanwhile, German nursing homes and nursing homes are attracting more and more from abroad. In 2019, the Mexican woman was reimbursed for her flight, language course and contact money, as well as a flat rate of € 300 for five months. Today, the bonus list includes one flight home per year, a bicycle and even a laptop. Competition for nurses is fierce, after all, a vacancy remains vacant for an average of 240 days.
Clinics tempt with permanent employment
Borja López de Castro noticed this development quite early. Ten years ago, the Spaniard founded the organization “Enfermeras Alemania”, “Nurses Germany”. What started out as a small project alongside my PhD thesis in Germany quickly turned into a full-time job. The home page is full of job advertisements, López de Castro places nursing staff in university clinics in Freiburg, Cologne and Aachen.
Borja López de Castro: “We used to place nurses from Spain and Italy, now mainly from Latin America”
“We are currently seeing clinics compete in attracting staff with additional benefits, higher ratings or additional bonuses,” says the organisation’s managing director, “and large hospitals can then also offer their own apartments.”
“Enfermeras Alemania” also includes nurses who already live in Germany. Nayeli Bautista Hernández got a permanent position at a hospital in Munich, including accommodation. The organization receives up to 20 inquiries daily from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela.
Staff recruiting strategies exist, but hardly ever there
What Borja López de Castro sticks to those interested: You need to know German, the B2 language level is compulsory. Those who survive receive the best conditions compared to their home country, financial stability and often a permanent job. But the road there is often paved with inexperienced and frustrated people: “Many come to Germany with 15 years of work experience in the intensive care unit and are seen as someone who has no idea.”
While Germany has learned by necessity how to attract nursing staff, it often does not have a plan or staff to keep people integrated and staying. López de Castro often asks how Latinos are doing, he has placed, he writes to them, calls them. What he hears again and again: problems are not solved, also because of the language barrier, communication is stuck on both sides.
“It is different to have staff for integration, but another thing is the concept of integration that is being implemented. Often there is no follow-up for nursing staff, the main problem is the lack of information and transparency on working conditions, ”criticizes the Managing Director of Enfermeras Alemania.
Language, bureaucracy and staffing proportions are a deterrent
Such experiences are nothing new for Christine Vogler, she has been tutored for 33 years. As a qualified nurse, then as head of the Berlin nursing school and as managing director of the Berlin educational campus for the medical profession. For a year now, she has had a truly Herculean task: she is the president of the German Nursing Council.
Why do not enough foreign nurses come to Germany? Vogler does not mince words: “Germany is not an attractive workplace for nurses. And the news is also circulating outside of Germany. We have complicated language and inadequate working conditions, although we have the most hospital beds, but the worst employment rates. “
Christine Vogler: “Nurses cannot use the skills they have acquired in their home country”
Christine Vogler met many interns from the Philippines and Vietnam who returned to their country after four or five years of work. Because geriatric care is paid less than the hospital sector. Because they are annoyed by the German bureaucracy, in which foreign nurses sometimes have to wait three, four or even five months for a vocational certificate. And because they are not allowed to talk about the diagnosis to the relatives of the patient when the doctor leaves the house.
The conclusion of the Chairman of the German Nursing Council is gloomy: “The possibility of recruiting foreign personnel is not a sustainable concept in nursing. We must always be aware that with 100 percent effort, maybe 20 to 25 percent is successful. It is also getting harder and harder to find people as more and more countries fall into this carefree situation. ‘