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medical schooling in France

Discussion in 'Europe' started by premeddo, 09.15.04.

  1. premeddo

    premeddo Member

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    This is something that I had never thought about. Im about to apply to medical schools and I was thinking of going to France to study medicine. I really wanted to go during my undergrad. but was not able to and now that Im wanting to do medicine I would like to do this.

    Is anyone here in france studying medicine. One thing I have searched different sites and they list England, Poland and others but not France? I was curious as to why they do this? Also how can I see if I can study abroad and then be able to come back to the states and practice. I know someone mentioned WHO but I can't find the list on their site?

    Thanks!
  2. Miklos

    Miklos Guest

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    There are a number of problems that foreigners face going to French medical schools.

    -They are all state schools and admit "nearly everyone".
    -They are based on a a pyramid system. Only a certain percentage of students graduate from year 1 to year 2. This continues from year 2 to year 3. Something like 10% get from admission to year 3.
    -As a result, students brutally compete against each other. An acquaintance of mine who attended a French school, told me how if someone dropped a pen during an examination, the student sitting next to the unfortunate would purposely kick it away. And this is just a small sample of what takes place. Leaving your notes in class is an invitation to have them stolen. Etc...
    -Unless you are French, you will experience xenophobia in one form or another, as you will be singled out.

    Miklos

    PS For a list of medical schools abroad, check out http://imed.ecfmg.org/
  3. premeddo

    premeddo Member

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    Wow...that bad! Too bad that its like that, I was really considering france as a first option. Are other countries like that aswell? England, Poland etc?



  4. leorl

    leorl Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor

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    No, it seems specific to France because they seem to have the only system like that that's exacerbated to that degree. I've heard it's really cutthroat and very difficult to get through. The failure/drop out rate is something ridiculous. Here's a better option...find out if whatever your school can do an exchange/erasmus year with a French school. Like the Uni I'm at has a relationship with two french schools, so every year during our 4th year, a couple of our students go over and a couple of theirs come here.
  5. BellKicker

    BellKicker Twisted Miler

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    I dunno, Leorl, I've heard of a place where people go for years before medical school as something called "pre-meds". These people sometimes aren't accepted into medical school. ;)

    Maybe I'm wrong but I think someone on SDN mentioned it.
  6. euromd

    euromd Guest

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    I originally considered France, but now, I've set my sights on Erasmus instead. I thought the competition was only between getting from Yr 1 to Yr 2 (not counting getting in). Oh well. Belgium has that kind of thing too, but I think only for Vet school. But I could be mistaken, as can happen.

    Oh and by the way, as an international student, you can only apply to 2 schools and then somewhere on the last page of the application you can list a 3rd school as a "safety school". This all has to be done through the French Embassy and NO DOCUMENTS can be sent directly to the schools. NONE. This is bureaucracy at its best!

    -S
  7. Miklos

    Miklos Guest

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    From what my acquaintance told me, once the med students hit the third year they start getting paid for their clinical duties. Therefore, even the best motivated foreign students will find that they have their work cut out for them. If the choice is between a native and a foreign student, who do you think will be promoted? (Though the exams are nominally objective, they are typically graded by hand by the professors.)
  8. euromd

    euromd Guest

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    Glad I saved me a huge headache and didn't apply. Getting paid for clinical duties is humane (my father calls 3rd year, including residency, on slave labour - agreed).

    So is Erasmus in France not worth considering? I thought it would be cool because I speak French. I'll even forgo the pay, if they let me do the rotations and get graded fairly (just don't tell anyone!)

    -S
  9. Myrdhin

    Myrdhin French student doctor

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  10. Sage880

    Sage880 Senior Member

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    Seems you were correct euromd. The french poster in the above post says it is only like that for the first year. Wow Miklos! You convinced someone to not go to a country based on faulty info you gave them. I re-read your first post and you seemed to be an authority on the subject of French schools. I totally believed what you were saying and wouldn't have applied to French schools either if I was in euromd's position.

    I guess you should view everything on this board with a skeptic eye but it would be nice if people only posted advice they were sure of. Or at least write that they weren't sure and were just letting people know that they had heard this through the grapevine. I really think it's funny that you convinced the guy not to go though! Hope you're happy where ever you ended up Euromd.
  11. leorl

    leorl Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor

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    That's true, we should only post what we are sure of so that false info. doesn't go around. But in Miklos's defence, it is true that really not many international students get in and progress in French medical schools, and isn't a very easy option. Erasmus could be possible, my school has an exchange with a French university and I have several French students in my class this year (they're all very nice). But you'll have to ask your school about this possibility.
  12. Miklos

    Miklos Guest

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    I stand by my post. Whether you call it a 'pyramid' system or not is a matter of semantics. The French system is notorious for what I described. If you don't believe me, look into it further. Or as the poster puts it, "competitive spirit"...

    My information came from someone who did attend a French medical school and was unable to pass into the third year, based on his exam results. When he asked to see his exam papers, it turned out that they had not been graded. It was then explained to him, that as a foreigner (though he was also an EU citizen who spoke impeccable French) he was simply not entitled to advance. He did successfully complete an MD without too much difficulty elsewhere.
  13. Sage880

    Sage880 Senior Member

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    Ok, maybe I was too hasty attacking your post. Sorry, I don't know anything about the French system at all so I shouldn't be giving you a hard time when you're trying to help people out by relaying experiences. Sorry about that!
  14. Myrdhin

    Myrdhin French student doctor

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    As you say, look into it further... I'm amazed by what happened to your friend and I don't find any rational explanation... In my prom, we've got people of all nationality, Algeria, Morocco, New Zealand, Germany and so on, and I have never ever heard about such things, such bureaucratic mess... I find it really hard to believe your friend had not been graded, and even more incredible the explanation that was given to him (that he was a foreigner...!!!!). If it did happen, he should have sued the administration or something, or at less informed the sudents' association!!!!
    Once more concerning the pyramidal stuff, after the first year competitive exam, the exams are mere formalities, giving way to no "competitive spirit" at all!!!!! The next big exam occurs between the 6 and 7th year, to decide your internship specialty...
    And believe me, the 2nd year is one of the coolest thing you can do...
    Concerning the "xenophobia", my students' association has set a "prep" thing tohelp foreigners to pass the 1st year competitive exam, and only foreigners for we consider them to be disadvantaged by the language...
    And yes, I repeat, in the first year and only in there, there's a competitive sprit provoked by a competitive exam -as this kind of exam always do in every country. But for the last time I insist only there -and I would say u if It wasn't the case, why, damn' why, should I lie about something like that?
    Well, I think that's all. You've enough to think about, unless u've questions to ask me...
  15. Myrdhin

    Myrdhin French student doctor

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    ...one more thing: I've posted the two last texts neither for the mere pleasure of defending the truth (there are more worthy truths to fight for!) nor by patiotism (I don't consider myself as being French and really don't think the country where I live by mere accident affects my way of thinking...). The reason is simply I don't want foreign people to be discouraged about rumors and I think too few American people come to France, and it's bad because many French people have come to know about Americans only through the media propaganda, which is by no means lighter than the one Americans suffer from, even if French people usually pretend to be smarter or more well-informed about world politics (in fact, French media's taboos, interests and goals are only different from American ones, and that gives us the impression "we" can see things that are hidden by US medias...But I guess US people identically think they're aware of other things that are hidden or distorted by French medias, and relatively they're true...).
    So if more US people could come to France, mutual comprehension would permit us to resist patriotic and stupid propaganda of our respective countries...
    Thanks for having read that until here.
  16. euromd

    euromd Guest

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    First, my decision not to go to France was long before this ever came out. Miklos had nothing to do with it. But I do suggest reading everything here with a grain of salt. Someone may be very happy at one school while another may be completely miserable. GO AND VISIT!

    One reason for not choosing France was because I dislike the idea of some arbitrary low percentage of people making it to 2nd year even if most of the class has 88% (or whatever) and above. Where I am now, if everyone passes, everyone moves on (however the attrition rate is high). You get promoted based on your own merits, as I think it should be. I am only competing against myself and not with the rest of the class.

    There were other reasons for not going to France, but they are petty in comparison and I will not go into them now.

    I had done my research about French schools and the competition was clearly only for 1st year. I read, reread and reread again the documentation. As I stated here, because I will be getting EU citizenship, I am considering doing an Erasmus semester or year there. It's better than the PCEM 1 competition.

    -S
  17. brightblueeyes

    brightblueeyes Senior Member

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    I know this is an old thread but I just stumbled across it today.

    Miklos, your friend may have begun at a French med school but much of what he told you is garbage.

    First, the only competition (and, yes, it is extreme) is for the "entrance exams" during first year. They are very tough and first year is spent preparing students for them. But no one is supposed to fail after that.

    So saying French med schools "admit nearly everyone" is not the whole story. A French "bac" is supposed to give access to any university in the academic region where the "bac" was obtained. However, since full access to Medicine is continget on ranking in a small government set number (their numerus clausus) on their entrance exams, most French students will not waste a year of their lives unless they think they have a reasonable shot at it. (In addition, students from outside the academic region...i.e. non Parisian students who want to go to a Paris med school and all foreign students undergo initial screening to determine if they have a realistic chance of making it into the numerus clausus.)

    Although extreme, the whole point of the French selection system is to be as fair as possible. They reason that not all schools and countries have the same academic standards. So, good grades just give you a foot in the door, and you then have to prove yourself on a level playing field.

    To say that this approach is xenophobic is ridiculous. Of all systems I've heard of, French med schools are by far the most "foreign student friendly" (although it seems funny to use the word "friendly" for something French :)).

    The French are so obsessed with "equality" and "fairness" that they refuse to charge higher fees for foreign students. They want access to be based solely on merit and not money. Med school here is very open to foreigners. And since their entrance exams are the big equalizer, a foreign student has just as good a shot of getting in as a similarly qualified French student.

    In fact, being a foreign student has an advantage if you're from outside the EU. You still have to meet the same standard as everyone else, but if you make it into the numerus clausus the government gives your school an extra spot for a French student. So...you're NOT competition...and French students (and your school...I think you end up increasing their funding) are very happy to have you. :)

    As for foreign students suffering discrimination during exams, this is ridiculous. All the exams that really matter are rigorously anonymous. If anything (and assuming your French is good), it's an advantage to be an anglophone.

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but he does not sound like a reliable source of information for French med schools.
  18. f_w

    f_w 1K Member

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    > One reason for not choosing France was because I dislike the idea
    > of some arbitrary low percentage of people making it to 2nd year
    > even if most of the class has 88% (or whatever) and above.

    What percentage of folks who start pre-med in the US do you think end up becoming physicians ?

    It is the same thing. You have to thin the herd at some point. In the US, the process just happens before medschool even starts. In the french system, the college your daddy attended (and got you into through legacy admission and donations) doesn't factor into who advances from year 1 to 2.
  19. nokia

    nokia Senior Member

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    hi ..i`m new in this form ..
    I have done MB BS ( equivalent to undergrad degree in med school ) from india . i have been thinking abt doing Post Graduation from france . Can anyone give some info abt ...what`s the proscedure ..cosst ..requirements etc ..or any website which gives info abt Post Graduation courses ?
    Thankyou .
  20. brightblueeyes

    brightblueeyes Senior Member

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    You could start with the following link.

    http://www.sante.gouv.fr/emplois/dhos/internat/med_etran/sommaire.htm

    It includes the décret and arrêté that guide non-EU medical graduates access to French specialty studies. (I think your access would be contingent on how highly you ranked on the Concours de l'internat en médecine à titre étranger.)

    You might want to be careful though. Even though France is very receptive to foreign students, it is less receptive to some countries' medical training. (There is one extra hurdle that is sometimes imposed.)

    Good luck.
  21. cbcgingko

    cbcgingko Junior Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I've read all the posts thus far and thank you all for the thoughtful and detailed explanation of the french medical system.

    I would like to know if there are opportunities for me to work there. My french is not good, but I'm learning. Is there an english-speaking ex-patriot community in Paris or Nice that I could practice clinically? Also, could I work in an office - either pharmaceutical, administrative in an NGO, or hospital?

    My reason for wanting to work in France: There is a real possibility that I will be moving to france in 5 years (after 4-years of med school and maybe one year of residency and completing my 3rd step of the USMLE), I'll be starting med school in NYC at downstate this aug. My boyfriend of 3 years is french and we have to compromise on our geographical location, so in 5 years I'll be in France, then come back to US after 3 or so years, and back and forth.

    Are there any websites with useful information or agencies that I could contact? I'd appreciate any information I could get!

    Joyce
  22. brightblueeyes

    brightblueeyes Senior Member

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    There's a vibrant anglophone ex-pat community in Paris. They post notices and ads in their magazine and on their website.

    http://www.fusac.fr/

    Another website is supposed to be some sort of guide for anglophones in Paris:

    http://www.parisfranceguide.com:81/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=1

    One thing about Paris and Nice, though, is that a lot of people want to live there. The same thing that attracts tourists also attracts doctors. You might want to talk with some anglophone doctors in Paris and Nice and get some feedback on whether or not the English-speaking community is saturated. (I have no idea.)

    There's an English hospital just outside Paris called the Hertford British Hospital.

    http://www.british-hospital.org/en/

    There's also a doctor who advertises herself as...English doctor in Paris.

    http://www.english-doctor-paris.com/index.asp

    For the procedure to have your medical training recognized in France, download the pdf file Médecins diplômés hors de France (Les) : statuts et caractéristiques on the following website:

    http://www.chu-rouen.fr/ssf/indiv/medecindiplomeetranger.html<edit: The info provided by this link is now out of date.>

    Good luck.
  23. cbcgingko

    cbcgingko Junior Member

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    Thank you so very very much! This is information is very useful. Thank you for your time and effort! My boyfriend and I are going to look over these sites carefully.
    joyce
  24. cbcgingko

    cbcgingko Junior Member

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    Hello,

    I've read the links you sent me brightblueeyes. It seems I have to pass an exam to be recognized in France and I can only practice as a generalist. Do you or anyone else know if there is a way I can be a specialist, say Emergency Medicine?

    Thank you!

    joyce
  25. brightblueeyes

    brightblueeyes Senior Member

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    It looks like I goofed...the link I referred to in my previous post is out of date. The new (and much better) rules for getting foreign medical training recognized in France are described at:

    http://www.sante.gouv.fr/adm/dagpb/bo/2004/04-41/a0412726.htm

    Note that you would still have to take an exam and not all specialties are open to non-EU specialist trained doctors in any given year. In 2004, the following 16 specialties were open: anesthésiologie, biologie médicale, chirurgie orthopédique, urologie, chirurgie viscérale et digestive, gériatrie, gynécologie obstétrique, urgence, néphrologie, neurologie, ophtalmologie, pédiatrie, pneumologie, psychiatrie, radiodiagnostic, réanimation médicale.

    BTW, "urgence" is Emergency Medicine so you'd probably be okay.

    Again, good luck.
  26. cbcgingko

    cbcgingko Junior Member

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    Hello brightblueeyes,
    Its been almost 2 years now since you gave me those helpful links and great advices. I'm now studying for Step 1 of the USMLE and also just got engaged. So the road to France is certain. I'll most like go to France after my residency to work for at least 2 to 3 years. I'm worried that I won't be able to practice, even in ex-pat areas like Paris and Nice, b/c I'm not sure if I could pass any sort of exam in French b/c I have not been learning french. Yes, I sound terrible, yes I know I should be learning but as you know medical school leaves little time for anything. :(

    I heard france is lacking doctors, so do you know if they make the exam in English for foreigners or do I just have to take a crash course in French then medical french to pass the exam? If you could privately send me a message of any American or anglophone Canadian who is practicing in france, I would love to get in touch with them!

    Thank you very much for your help!
  27. metropolis

    metropolis

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    I've read what everyone's said and I think its realistic to say that medical school in any country is competetive and that one's success depends on how much one applies themselves to their studies.
    I'm from the U.S. and am finishing college at the moment. And since I'm fluent in the language, I was thinking of applying to medical schools in France. Could anyone tell me about the process? I've searched some schools' websites, but they're not very specific on the application process (requirements,etc) for US students. Also, would anyone recommend any particular university in France for studying medicine?

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