Last update - August 2015.
So you decided to move to France and you are a doctor… This is a help page for you, with the essential things you need to know about this country. At the end I included a collection of psychiatry-related links that are absolutely necessary in my practice (I bookmarked this page so that I can access it from everywhere).
The page is in English for a wider audience. Raccourci means shortcut in French.
Before you arrive in France
1. Know some geography and minimum info about the country! Seriously!
– I particularly paid attention to climate, population density and structure (immigrants especially, and their origin), unemployment and proximity to a large city or the border:
– Google Maps – http://maps.google.com .
– Wikipédia – https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/France .
2. Know the gateway airports!
– For Romania, they are Beauvais, Basel and Genève (see their respective websites). Basically, the airline is WizzAir – https://wizzair.com . You need to create an account on their website. You pay online by card.
– If you’re filthily rich, you can use CDG airport in Paris and Air France or your private jet. If you aim the border regions, you might use the Brussels, Frankfurt Hahn and Stuttgart airports.
3. Have a deep understanding of the trains in France (if you don’t have a car) – http://www.sncf.com . Here is a Swiss website with all the possible train connection in Europe – CFF – http://www.cff.ch/home.html .
4. You need a contract. This is a must.
– If you have friends, colleagues or acquaintances, contact them. This is the most used path for newcomers. There are advantages (safety, easy access to information) and disadvantages (the enclave effect).
– If you know nobody, you have 2 options: either use the services of some sharks (recruiting companies) or seek for offers by yourself.
– I never used the sharks. And when doing the search for yourself, you get the worst possible jobs in the worst possible places. In France, unfortunately, good jobs are always hidden, and you need an “inside man” to get a good opportunity. Prepare for the fact that you will likely be traumatized. It’s only after some time (and French experience) that you learn to see beyond appearances and judge an offer correctly.
– Here are some jobs websites:
OptionCarriere (Switzerland) – probably the best – http://www.optioncarriere.ch
Fédération Hospitalière de France – http://emploi.fhf.fr
Annonces-Médicales – http://www.annonces-medicales.com/index.php
Le Recruteur Médical – http://www.lerecruteurmedical.fr/index.php/jobs/
Emploi Soignant – http://www.emploisoignant.com
Profil Médecin – http://www.profilmedecin.fr
Trovit – http://emploi.trovit.fr
5. You need a place to sleep – Booking.com – http://www.booking.com .
6. You might need to know the carriers who transport large packs between Romania and France, and their routes and regional offices in France. It’s cheaper than carrying everything par avion or buying in France. Atlassib – http://atlassib.fr and Romfour – http://www.romfour-tur.ro are some examples.
After you arrive in France
Essential stuff number 1: you need the contract (contrat) from the hospital.
France has a unique social system. People who don’t work in France are parasitizing the system and we have to pay for them. If you were born French, the state pays you for the fact that you exist, it’s your birthright. The foreigners however have to work so as to survive. You have to assume this when you come here.
Essential stuff number 2: you need an address (usually see this with the hospital). People who have no address in France, don’t exist.
If the hospital doesn’t help (unlikely), see: SeLoger: http://www.seloger.com or LeBonCoin – http://www.leboncoin.fr .
Essential stuff number 3: you need a bank account with a card (carte bancaire) and a chequebook (chéquier). People who have no bank account in France, don’t exist.
– I use Crédit Agricole – http://www.credit-agricole.fr but there is practically no difference between banks. Most banks have mobile sites or apps for your smartphone. You can do a lot of stuff online. I prefer not to, except for checking what’s happening with my bank account, but I’m highly paranoid, so disregard this…
– You do pretty much everything with your card. It gives you total freedom. You need paper money or coins for: the bills/tips at restaurants, paying the trams and buses, taking a shopping trolley in the supermarket, going to the toilet. For the rest you have Visa or MasterCard.
– Unfortunately you might need a chéquier for some very specific issues. The French are afraid to take money from your hand and prefer chèques when you can’t use your card.
Essential stuff number 4: you need insurance for your residence (assurance habitation), it’s obligatory. You often fix this with your bank counselor. The amount varies according to region and structure/surface of your domicile.
Essential stuff number 5: you need a French phone number (provided you have a mobile phone, which is something decent in the civilized world). It gives you freedom to manage things remotely, to speak with everyone at decent rates and gives you access to mobile internet. If you have a laptop, it gives you access to the usual internet. You need internet for papers, keeping in touch, legislation, etc., etc.
– I use Free – http://free.fr as it’s the cheapest but also has the worst service (this is somehow fair). I can speak free with the entire Europe, Canada, United States, and some other countries, under certain specific rules.
Essential stuff number 6: malpractice insurance.
As a doctor, you need an assurance responsabilité civile professionnelle that is supposed to protect you in case you do something wrong as a doctor. We’re not perfect and the insurance is obligatory.
There are several insurers available. I use La Médicale – http://www.lamedicale.fr because it’s cheaper and was the only one at hand when I came here. Plus, you can do everything by phone and internet; you don’t have to meet anyone in person.
Essential stuff number 7: be part of the college of doctors of France – l’Ordre des Médecins – http://www.conseil-national.medecin.fr
Each region in France has its own register (tableau) of doctors. If you change the region later you also change the regulating body; it’s not nation-wide. However, you are approved by Paris when you get to the register for the first time. This inscription has the most exhaustive folder of papers to prepare and being registered as a doctor in France is a massive challenge. You don’t have to go to Paris but you must go to the administrative city of your region. In the end you are given your unique RPPS number.
Essential stuff number 8: health insurance.
The famous Carte Vitale – http://www.ameli.fr . It takes a minimum of 8 months to get it. If you get sick in the meantime… that is very unfortunate… The hospital generally reserves a social security number for you, which you can find on the first (paper) proof of salary. So in fact, you are insured, but you don’t have the proof. With the Carte Vitale you get reduced prices/free medicines in pharmacies and a lot of other benefits of which I’m currently unaware. You need to go the closest Assurance Maladie center and submit a request yourself. You can also get the CEAM blue card – carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie, which is the proof of insurance when you travel abroad (from France).
Useful & Psychiatry links
Doctissimo – guide des médicaments
Haute Autorité de Santé
HAS – tableau des recommandations de bonne pratique
Recommandations & Guides ALD – Psychiatrie (affection de longue durée)
Le Vidal de Univadis
CIM-10 – classification des maladies
The SwitchTabel of PsychiatrieNet
– Switch Antipsychotics
– Switch Antidepressants
– Combining Moodstabilizers
– Benzodiazepines Conversion Calculator http://wiki.psychiatrienet.nl/index.php/Special:RunQuery/CalcBenzo
Légifrance – Code de la santé publique
Base de données publique des médicaments
Drug Interactions Checker
Multi-Drug Interaction Checker
Annuaire des Formations DU-DIU
Désignation du médecin traitant