Travel Nursing Series: Nursing in France
For those nurses who have a desire to travel and experience life in a different culture, a career as a traveling nurse may be the perfect combination of business and pleasure. Rated as the best healthcare system in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO), French nurses are in demand both in their own country and around the world. French nurses are being recruited by other countries, causing a nursing shortage in France. With globalization, it is now easier for countries to make up for nursing shortages by looking for travel nurses to fill vacant or hard-to-fill positions.
To help locate and secure travel nursing, it is best to register with a travel nursing agency. Most international nursing agencies have the expertise to assist the traveling nurse through the registration process, including any required licensing or training. The Travel Nursing Tour is usually on a 13-week rotation which means that the nurse can experience four different settings in the country of her travel, if desired. Options to extend the 13-week round are often available if the nurse wants to stay in the same location.
Aside from competitive salaries and full medical benefits, there are many other perks of a traveling nurse. Clean and secure supported accommodation is offered, with utilities many times included. Paid vacation, sick pay, continuing education stipend and contract bonuses may be offered as fringe benefits. Some hospitals may provide nursing uniforms and nursing shoes, but in general a nurse must be prepared to provide her own uniform. The use of uniform scrubs as nursing attire has spread internationally and is usually accepted, except for a few locations where traditional nursing uniforms are mandated. Replacements for worn or damaged nursing uniforms may not be readily available in the local market, but online retailers offer a wide range of nursing uniforms in all sizes and colors at discount prices, making uniform shopping easy for nurses without hitting a local retail store.
The nursing profession is highly regarded throughout France. Work is available in both public and private hospitals. The standard work week for nurses is 35 hours. However, with a nursing shortage, many nurses work more than 35 hours and take compensatory leave. Many hospitals practice mandatory rotation of their nurses rather than a set schedule.
Hospitals in France are similar to those in the United States in terms of staffing levels and nursing responsibilities. The physical appearance of a medical facility can vary from modern hospitals with many windows providing a bright environment for patients to buildings that have been in use for centuries. The remnants of previous civilizations that roamed the European continent are always visible. A hospital was preparing to build a new facility on its property and discovered ancient graves of an unidentified culture on its property. Construction has been stopped and the grounds are now an archaeological dig.
A traveling nurse in France can have the opportunity to explore the country by accepting the usual 13-week job rotation in four separate regions of the country. Travel nurses popular area of Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France. This picturesque city extends to its old town over two hills. Cobblestone streets twist and turn in the Tripolitan system, lanes winding through courtyards and linking the entire Old Town, offering ancient architecture from the 15th century and charming streets lined with small cafés, aromatic patisseries and taverns. As you stroll the streets, your nose is blown away by the delicious aroma of baking everywhere you turn.
South of Lyon lies Provence, with its rolling fields of lavender and sunflowers. This is the famous “Land of Light” favored by Van Gogh. Olive trees and vineyards abound, and here you can get acquainted with the delicacies of unlimited types of olive oil. Days off from work can be filled with a visit to the magnificent Colosseum in Nimes and Arles, or admiring the wonders inside the Palais des Papes in Avignon. Driving in the Provence countryside (buy a good local map and drive the back roads) provides hours of exhilarating entertainment.
To the south and east, a completely different geographical panorama is pleasing to the eye amidst the French coastal cities of St. Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. Set on the beautiful waters of the Côte d’Azur, palm trees, sunny beaches, seaside cafés and upscale shopping abound. Life in this region is much more hectic than in Provence, providing a different cultural experience. Save your money, as the prices are high, but sitting in a beachfront cafe and doing a little “people-watching” is priceless.
Traveling north, a completely different area to explore is Alsace-Lorraine, which borders Germany. Entirely French, but with hints of German culture, the beautiful city of Colmar is a joy to explore. The architecture doesn’t have much Roman Empire influence, but instead has an almost Bavarian flavor with window boxes filled with geraniums. This area is dotted with the smallest towns with the narrowest streets. Stone buildings border the edge of the village roads making passing through anything other than the smallest of vehicles a great experience. The countryside is dotted with wine-tasting spots, best visited after trying to navigate the city’s narrow streets.
Perhaps the most notable area to serve as a travel nursing location in France is Paris itself. Everyone loves Paris. While the outlying parts of Paris are heavily commercialized and modern, no one can deny the charm of the city centre. With miles of streets to roam, shops to explore, and cafés to try, the aura of the city is magical. While the Eiffel Tower is a wonder and Notre Dame is gorgeous, I particularly love the atmosphere of the Left Bank. The daily life of its walking inhabitants of St. Germain has a sense particularly appealing to my senses. It is indicated, but subtle. Traffic and noise is apparent, but it doesn’t overpower the charm of the surroundings. The area breathes life and energy with a special generosity.
The diversity of experiences from one region of France to another makes this country a desirable location for a traveling nurse. So call a travel nursing agency, throw your nursing uniform in your suitcase and head to “la belle France” for the experience of a lifetime.