Many in the medical sector choose to offer their skills to hospitals, clinics or doctor's surgeries outside their own countries in order to broaden and enrich their professional experience and career paths. Degrees and other higher level qualifications are today increasingly recognised internationally, making it easier to live and work in other countries. Maria K., a dental surgeon from Greece, gives an account of her own successful move to France.
Maria K., a dental surgeon who moved to France in 2016. A native of Greece, Maria began her studies at a French school in Piraeus before going on to graduate as a dental surgeon from Plovdiv Medical University in Greece in 2000. She then began working at a hospital and later went on to set herself up on her own as a self-employed professional in 2002. In 2008, she spent six months in Germany training to become a specialist in implantology. This international experience inspired her to do what she really wanted to do most of all: move abroad. French culture is something in which she has a particular interest: she studied the language at school and finds the quality of life it's possible to have in France attractive.She's also aware that a move to France will be an excellent career development opportunity for her. In 2016, she responded to a job advertisement and decided to take the plunge.Here she talks about her experience.
How did your move to work abroad come about?
I'd been thinking about leaving Greece for some time. I was very attracted by France because I'd learned French at school in Greece and dreamed of visiting Paris as a child. France is a country I've always been fascinated with. I therefore decided to apply for a job I saw advertised.
Did you have any particular worries about your move abroad?
Yes, I was worried! I didn't know France. I'd never been there. I had lots of questions about the country itself, and I was also worried about leaving my family behind to move to a country I didn't know. I did some research and got some advice. Once reassured about the doubts I had, I felt ready to come to France.
Did you have any help with your move abroad?
I was assisted by a company specialising in international moves and which also handled my recruitment. I wouldn't be in France today if I hadn't had their help. The main person I dealt with was always ready to listen. I knew I could ask him any questions I wanted.
I was helped with all the steps involved in my move abroad, and also when I first arrived in France, especially where registering with the Ordre des chirurgiens-dentistes was concerned. I could also have had help in finding somewhere to live if I'd needed it.
How did you find your first day of work in France?
When I first arrived, I didn't know anything about the methods used at the surgery or the ways it operated. The dental assistant took the time to carefully show and explain to me how things were organised. I also didn't have the technical vocabulary. The assistants and my dentist colleagues have really helped me. I'm very grateful to them. After one month, I was up to speed with everything!
How did your induction go?
I'm delighted with how my induction went. The dental assistants and the group dental manager were very welcoming. They're still very ready and willing to help today. Then there are my dentist colleagues too, with whom I have very good relationships; we often eat lunch together at midday.
How do you feel about the post now?
I really love the work I'm doing. I had patients from my very first day on the job. Many now make appointments with me, specifically, for a wide variety of treatments and procedures. My patients are loyal and keep coming back for the quality of the care I provide. They guarantee me my job.
What do you think of the pay in France compared with the pay in Greece?
I earn a very good living in France. The demands are higher – you have to work quickly and to a good standard – but the salary is in keeping with that. Working conditions are also easier. We have all the equipment available that we need to work efficiently.
How long do you plan to stay?
I like France and want to stay as long as I can. I earn a very good living. I like my profession and the organisation I work in. I have no reason to leave.
However, I came to France on my own. I didn't want my family to follow until I was sure I'd want to stay. I'm now very happy with both my job and my life here. My family is set to join me shortly.
What do you think of the French healthcare system.
I also had professional reasons for leaving Greece too As well as the country's economic crisis, the work dentists do is not very highly regarded in general, and we get little recognition and gratitude from patients. Dentists have few resources, social security is far less efficient and effective than it is in France, and medical treatments and procedures are expensive.Patients often refuse to pay and won't listen to the dentist's advice where additional treatments are concerned, usually for financial reasons.
It's very different in France! The fact that dental treatment is entirely reimbursed makes a big difference to the quality of our working experience. Our patients listen to us, follow our recommendations, and are open to the treatments the dentist suggests. They even specifically request procedures themselves! And if you want to advance and develop professionally, France is where it's possible to do it.
What advice would you give to other doctors/dentists hoping to come and live in France?
If I have one piece of advice to offer, it's to learn to work quickly and to a high standard: salaries are very high in France, but you have to earn them.
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