From nurse to deputy ward manager within three years

Brazilian nurse takes charge at German hospital

May 2020

CAPITALENT MEDICAL’s program enables qualified nurses from Europe and countries outside the EU to gain professional experience in German hospitals – the ward teams in Germany are grateful for their support. Many international nurses seize this opportunity to further develop their career. Success stories like this one from Vanessa Backes demonstrate what kind of professional opportunities are being offered in nursing – also for international health care workers.


Vanessa Backes is an open-minded, ambitious young woman. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from a university in Santo Angelo, Brazil, as top of her class. She had spent two study semesters in Germany joining the field of Applied Health Care Sciences at the University of Furtwangen. She was able to take this step due to her excellent grades which were honoured with a scholarship called “Science without borders” provided by the Brazil government. At that time, she would have never imagined that years later her path would lead her back to Germany. „In her initial interview with us Vanessa mentioned that she found our job offer in an online job portal”, remembers Carolina Martinez, consultant at CAPITALENT MEDICAL. “She had been looking for job opportunities in Brazil right after graduating and came across our offer by accident. Only a few months passed between contacting us and her starting to work in Germany, because everything seemed to fit, and we were able to check and hand in her documents right away.”

Ms. Backes went through the company’s selection process. Her profile met the requirements: She had successfully graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, had gained some first work experience with patients, showed good language competency and a strong motivation to work in a German hospital for a minimum of two years. As one of CAPITALENT MEDICAL’s selected candidates she did not have to worry about any administrative or financial issues concerning her entry to Germany, registration, job search and recognition of her nursing degree in Germany since all that was taken care of by the company.

„I got all the help I needed from the CAPITALENT MEDICAL team”, says Ms. Backes. “All my emails were answered promptly, and they also took care of important topics like finding accommodation for me or my health insurance. That made me feel safe.”

Besides that she also remembered another feeling from her previous experiences in Germany: “The quality of life is by far higher in Germany than it is in Brazil. To be outside in the evenings, after 7 pm, is unimaginable in my home country. Especially for women hence I very much appreciate the freedom of movement and expression in Germany. My international encounters with other people also had a positive effect on working with patients in the hospital”, continues Ms. Backes. “All those social interactions made me more empathetic. This comes in very useful considering that roughly sixty percent of my colleagues are from all around the world.”

In April 2017 she started working as a nurse at Sana Klinikum Offenbach. Once she had received the recognition of her nursing degree in October 2017, she was allowed to take care of patients on her own for the first time. For her oral exam at the end of her training she chose the field of chemotherapy – of course, this was to be conducted in German. „Even though my family speaks some German, it was only during my semesters abroad, including a six months intensive German course in Aachen, when I really made the biggest progress in speaking the language”, the registered nurse explains in fluent German. “It actually took almost 1.5 years after arriving back in Germany for me to feel comfortable in this language. But even today I still make mistakes here and there.”

She chose to specialize in gastroenterology. Part of that ward at the hospital in Offenbach is the influenza ward. Due to the variety of diseases that the patients in this ward have, she is learning something new every day, because each person’s body reacts differently, some very subtly, some very intensely. „In addition to that, I became a member of the core group working on the digitalization of patients’ records in the hospital in 2018”, says Ms. Backes. “My ward was the first to switch from analogue to digital. At that time, the software was still in its infancy and our team was supported by Telekom and the nursing director.”

That same year one of her supervisors left the hospital and Ms. Backes was offered yet another change: Becoming deputy ward manager of the gastroenterology ward. “I felt honoured and was happy to be given this opportunity to grow, which is why I said yes”, emphasizes Ms. Backes. Since then she has only been working the early shifts, and some exceptional late shifts. While the number of patients she takes care of remained the same, she is now also in charge of organizing the shift roster plus other office work.

When facing more stressful moments or unusual times, like the current situation of COVID-19, she more often feels homesick and a desire for homelike customs. “I overcame the cultural shock long ago and I do feel incredibly good living in Germany, and I love my job”, the deputy ward manager adds. “But still it’s important to have people around you who have experienced similar situations like you. For example other Brazilians who share specific experiences with me and thus are able to understand and support me, because naturally things are not only golden at all times. But even with tough days, there has never been a single one of them that made me not want to go to work or even change jobs. I am taking the opportunities that are given to me, I am grateful for everything I was able to learn so far, and I consider myself very lucky.”


About CAPITALENT MEDICAL: The company was founded in 2012 by Dr. Tilman Frank in Frankfurt. The CAPITALENT MEDICAL program is open to graduates from renowned nursing schools in about ten countries worldwide including Latin America, southern Africa, southeast Asia, and Europe. Part of the program is a free of charge intensive German class in one of 16 language schools all around the globe or in the company’s own language school sprachtalent® in Frankfurt plus finding a matching job in a German hospital.