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Conditions for practising medicine in France as a foreign practitioner

Louis Chalon
by Louis Chalon Read time : 2min
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For some years now, there has been a shortage of doctors in France, and the problem is becoming more and more acute. This leads to stressful situations, including medical deserts. The government is addressing the shortage of health professionals in France by allowing health organisations to recruit practitioners from abroad.
This policy may seem simple since it is already implemented in other sectors of activity in France. However, the specific requirements of the medical sector impose the necessity for a well-defined framework, particularly concerning the qualifications held by professionals in the field.

Qualifications recognised for practising medicine in France

European regulations provide for an automatic procedure for recognising specific qualifications within the European Union (EU) for those who wish to practise as doctors in France. These qualifications are listed in the European Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of qualifications.
All professionals holding evidence of formal qualifications entitling them to practise in their country and provided for by European regulations may practise in France.
In this case, the qualification is automatically recognised without the need to present a certificate of professional practice drawn up by the competent authorities of the State of origin of the qualification. Different cases may arise depending on the nationality of the practitioner and the country in which the qualification was obtained, as referred to in Article L4111-2 of the CSP (public health code):

The case of a non-EU national who obtained their qualification in the European Union

He/she will have to apply at the Centre National de Gestion (CNG) for a ministerial authorisation to practise. The application will be presented to a commission which will verify that the level of training and professional experience is equivalent to the level requested.

The case of an EU national who obtained their qualification in a non-EU country, but one that is recognised by another EU Member State

To be eligible to practise medicine in France, it is necessary to prove a certain number of years of practice in the Member State providing recognition. The practitioner will also have to request an authorisation from the Centre National de Gestion (HOCSMAN procedure).
The application will then be submitted to a commission which will verify that the level of training is equivalent to the level required in France. Depending on the differences in the doctor’s level of training and experience, the commission may make the granting of an authorisation to practise conditional on the completion of a compensation measure.
This compensation measure can take the form of an adaptation period or an aptitude test, depending on your choice.

The authorisation to practise will be issued when the compensatory measure is carried out and validated by the commission.

The case of a non-EU national who obtained their qualification in the European Union

They must apply to the Centre National de Gestion to obtain an authorisation to practise.
To be able to present their file to the licensing commission, they must:
- Have passed the knowledge verification test (PAE in French - competition or examination depending on the situation)
- Pass the knowledge verification test and then complete a two-year skills consolidation course in their speciality.

This procedure is also open to you if you are a refugee, stateless person, or beneficiary of territorial asylum or subsidiary protection and you have returned to the national territory at the request of the French authorities.All these situations have a common denominator: registration with the competent Council of the Order (as indicated in Article L4111-1 of the CSP).

French language proficiency required to practise as a physician

One of the criteria that will be carefully assessed in this process will be full proficiency in the French language. Indeed, as patients are at the heart of the matter, it is essential that the practitioner can communicate fluently with them. This is also the case for the colleagues and health care teams with whom they will interact every day.

A French-language test may be conducted during a preliminary interview as part of the registration process. A minimum level of proficiency in the French language certified as B2 (as laid down in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) may be required.

If you wish to know more or would like help and guidance on practising in France, please do not hesitate to contact our Medictalis team.


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