Step 5 – Going to the doctor (Zum Arzt gehen)- What’s to know about that?

In principle, going to the doctor works the same way in every country:

  • you fall ill
  • you look for a doctor
  • you find a doctor
  • you call the doctor
  • you go to the doctor

So, what’s to know about going to the doctor in Germany? It’s all in the details. You need the necessary vocabulary to tell the doctor about your symptoms, that’s obvious.

But before you even get there, you need to sort out these formalities:

  1. Are you insured? You need health insurance.
  2. You need to call and make an  appointment. In case of a medical emergency, you might get one on the same day, but you need to call the doctor’s practice anyway. The receptionist will arrange an appointment for you.  – By the way, the same is true if you need an appointment in a hospital.

Once you have your appointment, you’ll have to be there on time. Expect a certain waiting period that you’ll have to spend in the waiting room. The waiting time can range from several minutes to several hours, depending on the number of patients needing an appointment.

apples (Äpfel)
An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Let’s learn some words you’ll probably need to know in German:

English: Deutsch:
appointment Termin (m)
I need an appointment, please. Ich brauche bitte einen Termin.
consultation hour,
consultation hours
Sprechstunde (f)
Doktor (m),
Arzt (m),
Ärztin (f)
doctor’s practice Arztpraxis (f)
family doctor,
family physician
Hausarzt (m)
general practitioner,
Allgemeinarzt (m),
Allgemeinmediziner (m),
Allgemeinärztin (f),
Allgemeinmediziner (f)
health insurance card Krankenversicherungskarte (f)
health insurance,
sickness insurance
Versicherung (f),
Krankenversicherung (f)
to be insured versichert sein
medical history,
Krankengeschichte (f),
Vorgeschichte (f),
Anamnese (f)
medicine Medizin (f)
to take medicine Medizin einnehmen
Medikamente (f)
nurse Schwester (f),
Krankenschwester (f),
Pfleger (m),
Krankenpfleger (m)
pain Schmerz (m)
to be in pain Schmerzen haben
patient Patient (m),
Patientin (f)
pre-existing condition,
previous illness
Vorerkrankung (f)
doctor’s assistant
Arzthelfer (m),
Arzthelferin (f)
medical specialist
Facharzt (m),
Fachärztin (f)
symptom Symptom (n)

If you don’t have any  prior knowledge of German, visiting a German doctor might be quite difficult. But don’t despair, many German doctors know at least a little bit English 😉 So it’ll probably not be as difficult as you think.

If you want to prepare, make a list of your symptoms and then, while you’re talking with your doctor, use English, German and sign language, to get your point across.


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