Medical specialists

In the past ten years we have helped over one hundred medical doctors and physiotherapists to start a new life in France and almost all of them still work and live here! Some of them will gladly invite you to observe for a day or a few days in their practice, in order to give you a sense of what it means to work in ‘La Douce France’.

Newcomers often think that it will be difficult to learn to speak French to an acceptable level. It is our experience, however, that this is hardly ever a problem.

We work together with Emmanuelle Arnaud, a professional teacher who offers an intensive training course of one or two weeks, adapted to your level and medical specialism.This is a one on one training. After this training, most specialists are ready to start their practice.

In France, medical specialists are ‘employed’ in a public hospital or they work independently (‘libéral’) in a private clinic. For the patient, there is no difference : they choose a specialist regardless of their private or public status ; the health insurance fund covers both equally.

Private clinics are often organized more rigidly than a hospital, and hospitals have a larger hierarchical structure. As an independent specialist, you decide the number of hours you would like to work; in a hospital you will work a defined number of hours, mostly between 35 and 48 hours, depending on the nature of the contract and your shifts. Paid holidays, insurance etc. are included in the contract.

Working as a ‘liberal specialist’ means that you will be self-employed. You will rent a workspace for your consultations within a clinic and you will also perform your operations there. The clinic takes care of all facilities and operation costs. In exchange for these services you will pay a small percentage of your ‘revenue per operation’. You will be free to organize your consultations as you see fit : hire your own secretary or share with a colleague, etc.

You will pay for the purchase of equipment you might need, although many clinics are willing to help you with this.

After registering with the ‘Ordre des Médecins’ you will receive your ‘numéro RPPS’ (which is still often called ‘numéro ADELI). This number allows you to register with the Caisse Maladie (national health insurance) as a healthcare professional. This will also cover personal basic health insurance for you and your family.

Next, you will register with the URSAFF, the fiscal organisation that will calculate your social security contributions. Finally, you will have to take out a professional liability insurance. The premium will depend on your specialism and surgical activity.

In France, medical doctors can opt to join sector 1 (conventional), which follows the prescribed rates of the health insurance fund and will include free (basic) health insurance for the whole family, or sector 2 which gives you the freedom to schedule your own charges and lets you decide on your medical cover. This will entail a higher pension contribution. You can make the decision to join sector 1 or 2 at a later stage.