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 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 alongside Emmanuelle Arnaud www.lefrancaisfaceaface.com, 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 practitioners are ready to start their practice.
In France, physiotherapists work alone or in groups in the so-called ‘Maisons Médicales’. These structures are often commissioned by the local authorities in order to group together local medical doctors, physiotherapists, homecarers and other disciplines who therefore will pay a minimal rent. In some areas the shortage is such that a tax exemption is granted to newcomers by the government for a period of five years. This is not the case in all regions, however.
Of course you are free to open your own practice at the location of your choice and handle everything yourself. It is up to you.
In France, physiotherapists are ‘libéral’, which means that you decide for yourself what you will do and how much you will work. If you are part of a group, it’s members will make arrangements on these subjects, but broadly speaking, you are in control of the number of hours you wish to work and of planning your consultations and annual leave. You are not required to provide a replacement in the case of taking annual leave or a day off.
Some hospitals and other institutions offer the possibility of being in paid employment. In this case you will work 35 hours a week and you have no paperwork to take care of. Paid holidays and insurance are part of the deal. Some physiotherapists will start out as a paid employee and become ‘libéral’ at a later stage. Others prefer to stay employed in order to have more free time to enjoy the ‘French way of life’.
Registering as a physiotherapist is a 2-part process : firstly you must register for your work permit, next you will register with the ‘Ordre des kinésithérapeutes’. This procedure takes between four and five months to be completed and a new physiotherapist is required to show that they have mastered the French language to level B2.