No matter how long you wait, that ingrown toenail isn’t going to outgrow itself, that sore throat isn’t going to heal itself and that fungus…, well, let’s just leave it there. Your “It’ll get better by itself” theory isn’t really panning out and it’s time to go and see a medical professional. The only problem is your German isn’t really up to scratch yet and you can’t even imagine trying to explain your condition and symptoms to a stony-faced German doctor. But fear not, you live in Berlin! Finding an English-speaking doctor here isn’t as hard as you might think.
How do I find an English-speaking doctor in Berlin?
Easy peasy. There’s a website called Ärtze Berlin that lists pretty much every doctor in the city. Just enter the type of doctor you need, the district you live in, your postal code and click on “englisch” in the dropdown menu in the “Sprache” category. A magical list shall appear with every English-speaking doctor in your neighbourhood.
Do I need to make an appointment?
Most practices offer a walk-in service for emergencies or between selected hours on selected days. However, you could be waiting long enough that you expire from your condition before you get to see a doctor. It’s probably best to make an appointment, which you can do over the phone, in person or maybe even online depending on the practice. This is still Germany so “online” hasn’t really caught up with the rest of the developed world. And, even with an appointment, you’ll probably still have to wait.
Will the reception staff speak English too?
They may or may not. If you live in a district with a lot of expats, there’s probably a better chance that they’ll speak English. If not, here are a few useful phrases to help you out:
I’d like to make an appointment – Ich möchte einen Termin machen
I have an / no appointment – Ich habe einen / keinen Termin
It’s very urgent / not so urgent – Es ist sehr dringend / nicht so dringend
Then listen like hell while they reel off possible times, dates and other information.
Will I need to fill out any forms?
You obviously haven’t been here very long if you even have to ask this question. This is Germany - of course there are forms. If you’re a first-time patient, you’ll have to fill in a form with your personal information, reason for your visit, medical history, and any pre-existing conditions. You’ll also have to sign a data protection declaration. Not really much point in reading it – just sign on the dotted line. If you’re lucky, the doctor’s practice may have an English translation of the forms.
What are the different types of doctors called in German?
Surprisingly, the Germans like to keep it quite simple when it comes to naming doctors. The word for “doctor” is “Arzt” and then you pretty much tack on whatever kind of doctor you need to the front of that. And Arzt is also fun to say as it sounds a bit like arse. Here’s a list of the main types of doctors:
In general, you can assume that it will but it’s better to err on the side of caution and ask the doctor or receptionist if the particular treatment you need is covered by your health insurance.
What if I need to see a specialist like a gynaecologist?
With the exception of a few specialists (gynaecologists, ophthalmologists, paediatricians and dentists), you can’t just rock up or make an appointment yourself. First, you’ll have to go to your GP and, if they think it’s necessary, they’ll give you a referral (Überweisung) to a specialist. Even then, it can still take an age to get an appointment.
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