As the medical desert progresses and the need to cry is felt in the hospital environment, France struggles to educate the next generation after years of numerus clausus. To live their passion, students make a radical decision and leave to train with our neighbors in the European Union.
As soon as they graduate from the baccalaureate, or after after encountering the difficulties of PACES – now PASS or L.AS – they and they leave their country† These students leave family and friends to try everything for everything, in a language that is sometimes completely unknown, but in countries whose diplomas are recognized in France.
Studying health abroad, a difficult but necessary decision
For all students, going on adventures thousands of miles to pursue health studies is not trivial† In some countries, the admission requirements have even been tightened. Today, the selection abroad takes place on file and interview or even on competition as in Belgium. “My first year of PACES took place in Guadeloupe. I missed it just so much I could have tried to do a year over, but I wanted something concrete and I didn’t want to waste time. But the PACES had nothing concrete. My goal was to be a dentist and nothing else. So I didn’t take this decision lightly. Going 8,000 kilometers from your family is a difficult choice,” analyzes Iris, a 3rd year dentistry student at CESPU (Cooperativa Da Ensino Superior Politécnico Universitário) in Porto (Portugal).
Océane decided after two years to apply for PACES in six physio schools in Spain for next school year “I don’t leave my family, my boyfriend and my friends without sadness or fear. But if Spain gives me a chance, my studies will come first. This year there were 30 places in the physio. They were picked up by people who wanted to study medicine and who couldn’t † In PACES you absolutely have to be a competitor to hold on. There are no friends. It’s every man for himself. And I’m not talking about dramatic weight loss or weight gain. At the end of the year, we’ll all look like zombies.”
The same choice for Julien, in his second year of physiotherapy at the University of Vic, in Spain, who has not even tried his luck in France: “I have always wanted to become a physiotherapist. I chose a private secondary school to prepare for this famous year of PACES, but with all the maddening testimonials from former students, I understood it wasn’t for me. The daughter of a physiotherapist friend had gone to Spain and it went very well. This country, its culture has seduced me a lot. I have visited four schools and applied to all schools. I was received by all four.”
For Michel Mondain, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier (34) this decision to go abroad is clear. “I can’t blame someone who wants to live his passion by all means and who, if he can afford it, go abroad. My role is to support this movement by verifying his ability to practice when he returns to France.”
Far from the competitive spirit of PACES, benevolence
The approach is certainly different abroad. Exit the first year excessive competition – PACES, PASS or L.AS. In Romania, Spain and Portugal, these students all agree on: a concrete approach and sincere benevolence† In both Portugal and Romania, courses start in French. “We work in a small group, the teachers know us. They know our strengths and our weaknesses. They progress accordingly,” says Iris. “The courses and the practice are top notch and I love life in Spain. Our classes put a lot of emphasis on the human aspect of the work,” concludes Julien.
Rashad chose to study in Romania. After a cum laude baccalaureate degree, a year in advance and his classification, he could have tried the PACES again, but on the advice of his parents’ doctors, he changed course† “At first I wanted to repeat a year, but honestly between the amount of work, the lack of sleep, the stress, in PACES we stop living. For example, I do a lot of sports, I stopped everything,” he explains. If Romania is not a country that seduced him, the young man says he likes to “get specific at work” : “Here in the first year, in anatomy, we studied all organs on remains, in physiology we did chemical manipulations, this allows us to approach the reality of the profession.”
But no worries for students who want to return to France after their studies, Gérald Chanques, professor of anesthesia/resuscitation at the University Hospital of Montpellier commends the work of the team of Spanish physiotherapists and foreign doctors present in its service : “General medical education in Europe remains at an excellent level.”
The decisions of Julien, Rashad, Océane and Iris are: far from isolated cases. Many students from PACES, PASS or L.AS this year should consider this solution from the start of the next school year.