As the medical desert advances, as the crying needs are felt in the hospital setting, France is struggling to train the next generation after years of numerus clausus. To live their passion, the students make a radical decision and set out to train with our neighbors in the European Union.
As soon as they graduate from a bachelor’s degree, or after having encountered the difficulties of PACES – now PASS or L.AS – they and they leave their country. These students leave family and friends to experience everything for everything, in a language that is sometimes totally unknown, but in countries whose diplomas are recognized in France.
Studying health abroad, a difficult but necessary decision
For all students, going on an adventure of thousands of kilometers to pursue health studies is not trivial. In some countries, admission requirements were even stricter. Today, selection abroad is done on file and interview or even in competition as in Belgium. “My first year of PACES took place in Guadeloupe. I could have tried to repeat a year, but I wanted something concrete and I didn’t want to waste time. But PACES had nothing concrete. My goal was to be a dentist and nothing more. So this decision, I didn’t take it lightly. Going 8,000 kilometers from your family is a difficult choice”, analyzes Iris, a 3rd year dental student at CESPU (Cooperativa Da Ensino Superior Politécnico Universitário) in Porto (Portugal).
Océane, after two years of PACES, decided to apply six physiotherapy schools in Spain for the next academic year “I don’t leave my family, my boyfriend and my friends without sadness or anguish. But if Spain gives me a chance, my studies come first. This year, there were 30 vacancies in physiotherapy. They were caught by those who wanted to do medicine and who couldn’t. ! At PACES, you absolutely have to be a competitor to keep up. There are no friends. It’s every man for himself. And I’m not talking about dramatic weight loss or gain. At the end of the year, we all look like zombies.”
Same choice for Julien, in the second year of physiotherapy at the University of Vic, in Spain, who didn’t even try his luck in France: “I always wanted to be a physiotherapist. this famous year of PACES but with all the maddening testimonials from alumni, I understood that it was not for me. The daughter of a physiotherapist friend had gone to Spain and things were going very well. This country, its culture tempted me a lot. I visited four schools and applied to all of them. I was welcomed by the 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 out their passion by all means and who, if he can afford it, go abroad. My role is to support this movement by checking its ability to practice when I return to France.”
Far from the competitive spirit of PACES, the benevolence
Especially abroad, the approach is different. Get out of excessive first year competition – PACES, PASS or L.AS. In Romania, Spain and Portugal, all these students agree a concrete approach and genuine benevolence. In Portugal as in Romania, courses start in French. “We work in a small group, the teachers know us. They know our strengths and our weaknesses. They advance accordingly,” says Iris. “The courses and 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 bachelor’s degree earned with honors, a year in advance and his rank, he could have tried PACES again, but on the advice of his parents’ doctors, he changed course.. “At first I wanted to repeat a year but frankly between the amount of work, lack of sleep, stress, in PACES we stopped living. For example, I who do a lot of sports, I stopped everything”, he explains. If Romania is not a country that has tried it, the young man says he is happy to “touch concretely at work” : “Here in the first year, in anatomy, we study all organs in remains, in physiology, we perform chemical manipulations, this allows us to bring the reality closer to the profession.”
But don’t worry for students who wish to return to France after their studies, Gérald Chanques, professor of anesthesia/resuscitation at the University Hospital of Montpellier praises the work of the team of Spanish physiotherapists and foreign doctors present in its service : “General medical training in Europe remains at an excellent level.”
The decisions of Julien, Rashad, Océane and Iris are far from being isolated cases. Many PACES, PASS or L.AS students this year may be considering this solution from the start of the next school year.