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Growing shortage of doctors in rural areas: Fewer female applicants than expected (symbolic image)

Photo: Armin Weigel/ picture alliance / dpa

Interest in the new medical study places for potential rural doctors in Lower Saxony falls well short of expectations. In the 2021 draft law, the SPD and CDU had expected 600 applications per year – in fact, however, only just under half were received for the first year.

Accordingly, only 299 candidates applied, as the Ministry of Health announced on request. As planned, 60 of them received a letter of admission for the upcoming semester, which begins in October. It is not yet possible to say how many of them have actually enrolled.

Ten years in a region with too few doctors

The rural doctor quota is intended to counteract the growing shortage of doctors. On the other hand, young people will have easier access to medical studies if, in return, they commit themselves to working as a general practitioner in a region with too few doctors for ten years after completing their studies and further training. If they later back down, they face a statutory penalty of up to 250,000 euros.

Of the 60 places to be allocated, 15 places per winter and summer semester are allocated to Göttingen and only for the winter semester 18 places to Hanover and 12 places to Oldenburg. Applicants were able to indicate which location they prefer. According to the ministry, Hanover (29 times) was most frequently mentioned as the preferred location with the highest priority, followed by Oldenburg (21). Only four applicants favoured studying in Göttingen.