gms | German Medical Science

The structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?
International Conference hosted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

10 - 11 October 2008, Berlin

A training and education continuum for dentistry - a Bologna-oriented concept


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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Jerome Rotgans - RWTH University Aachen, Medical Faculty, UKA- Klinik für ZPP, Aachen, Germany
  • Friedrich Lampert - RWTH University Aachen, Medical Faculty, UKA- Klinik für ZPP, Aachen, Germany

The Structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?. International Conference hosted by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). Berlin, 10.-11.10.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc08hrk6

doi: 10.3205/08hrk06, urn:nbn:de:0183-08hrk062

Published: January 13, 2011

© 2011 Rotgans et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: ‘Bologna’ is characterized by stimulation of international mobility, international competitiveness, and international employability. Stimulation is supported within

  • the European Higher Education Area by 2-cycles, modulated professional qualification. Cycle 1 for undergraduate qualified and employable Bachelors, cycle 2 for postgraduate specialization.
  • the European Research Area by postgraduate doctorate qualifications, as third cycle according to the concept of life-long learning.

In Germany the ‘Bologna Process’ is irritating: Curricula are compressed from 5 into 3 years, mass summative assessment introduced, behaviorism instead of constructivism cared, study load unbearable, misleading packages as undergraduate consecutive Bachelor/Master curricula tied up.

German students in dentistry are not positioned well in EU-competition: On average 2-4 years older as their EU-fellow students. 2x14 weeks ‘Lecture Time’ per year and 24 weeks ‘Semester Holidays’ with seldom curricular scheduled activities, in contrast to internationally 40-46 curricular defined weeks. Outcome competences are inherently lower.

Given a 5-year curriculum and a half-value time of current medical knowledge of 4-6 year, students are in danger to qualify with obsolete knowledge. Beyond this, the question arises why a dentist should be a Master per se.

Method: An Aachen Think tank developed a concept in which the traditional 10-semester curriculum, without changes in content, is reorganized in trimester (3x14 weeks). This 3-year undergraduate qualification is honored with a Limited License (§13 ZHG), followed by a 2-year university supervised extramural practical training (according to the federal Academic Council’s advice) to fulfil EU Parliament’s Directive 2005/36 EG Art. 24, resulting in Full License (§ 2 ZHG) (see figure 1 [Fig. 1]).

Result: The intended reorganisation

  • conserves the quality of the hitherto, unchanged curriculum and allows the intended curricular changes without any special hurdles.
  • strengthens European competitiveness and reaches employability in a shorter as previous time.
  • assures that the shorter length of study is related to the half-life time of actual medical knowledge.
  • meets the Bachelor standard by delivery of an employable dentist after 3 years but without any need to install this degree.
  • allows students to start specialization two years earlier as before.

Conclusion: The reorganisation has no influence on existing curricula; structures stay preserved. Graduates are younger as previously, more competitive – with an interim limited license – as a full employable and (as formerly) qualified dentist. If needed as Bachelor enabled to meet the Bologna Recommendations exemplary. Curriculum time is adapted to the half-value time of medical knowledge. These characteristics stay unchanged if the reorganisation principles are applied to a formerly 6 year curriculum with a four year result.