Travel Nursing Series: Nursing in France
For those nurses with the urge to travel and experience life in a different culture, a career as a travel nurse may be the perfect blend of work 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, creating a nursing shortage in France. With globalization, it is now easy for countries to make up for nursing shortages by seeking out travel nurses to fill vacant or hard to fill positions.
For help in locating and securing a travel nursing position it is best to sign up with a travel nursing agency. Most international nursing agencies have the experience to help the travel nurse through the registration process, including any licensing or training that is required. A travel nursing tour is typically on a 13 week rotation which means that a nurse could experience four different settings in her travel country, if desired. Options to extend a 13 week tour are often available if a nurse wants to remain in the same location.
Aside from competitive salaries and full medical benefits, there are numerous other perks for the travel nurse. Clean, safe subsidized housing is offered, many times with utilities included. Paid vacation, sick pay, continuing education stipends and contract bonuses can be offered as additional benefits. Some hospitals may provide nursing uniforms and nursing shoes, but generally a nurse must be prepared to provide their own uniforms. The use of uniform scrubs as nursing uniforms has spread internationally and is usually acceptable, except in a few locations where the traditional nursing uniform is mandated. Replacements for worn or damaged nursing uniforms may not be readily available in the local marketplace, but online uniform scrubs retailers carry a large selection of uniform scrubs in all sizes and colors at discount prices making uniform shopping easy for nurses without access to a local retail store.
A career in nursing is held in high esteem throughout France. Employment is available in both public and private hospitals. The standard work week for nurses is 35 hours. However, with the nursing shortage many nurses work more than 35 hours and receive compensatory time off. Many hospitals practice mandatory shift rotation for its nurses instead of a set schedule.
Hospitals in France are similar to those in the US in their staffing levels and nursing responsibilities. The physical appearance of the 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. Remnants of previous civilizations that roamed the European continent are always in evidence. One hospital was preparing to build a new facility on its property and discovered ancient graves from an unidentified culture on their property. Building was halted and the land is now an archeological dig.
The travel nurse in France can have the opportunity to explore the country by accepting the typical 13 week job rotation in four separate areas of the country. A popular area travel nurses is Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France. This picturesque town extends its old city up two hills. The cobbled streets twist and turn in a system of Traboules, passageways that wander through courtyards and link the entire old city, offering ancient architecture from the fifteenth century and charming streets filled with small cafes, aromatic patisseries and boulangeries. Wandering the streets, the nose is assailed with the delicious aroma of baking bread everywhere you turn.
South of Lyon lies Provence with its rolling fields of lavender and sunflowers. This is the land of the famous “light” so favored by Van Gogh. Olive trees and vineyards abound, and it is here that you can learn the gastronomic delights of the unlimited varieties of olive oil. Days off from work can be filled with visiting the magnificent coliseums at Nimes and Arles, or gasping at the wonders inside the Palais des Papes in Avignon. Driving the Provence countryside (buy a good local map and drive the back roads) provides hours of delightful entertainment.
Further south and east, a totally different geographical panorama delights the eye amid the French coastal towns of St. Tropez, Cannes and Nice. Situated on the beautiful waters of the Cote d’Azur, palm trees, sunny beaches, seaside cafes and upscale shopping are in abundance. Life in this region is more up-tempo than that of Provence, providing a different cultural experience. Save your money, as prices are high, but sitting at a seaside café and doing a little “people watching” is priceless.
Travelling due north, a totally different area to explore is the Alsace-Loraine region, bordering Germany. Totally French, but with hints of German culture, the lovely town of Colmar is a delight to explore. The architecture does not have the heavy influence of the Roman Empire, but instead a semi-Bavarian flavor with window boxes full of geraniums. This area is dotted with the smallest of towns with the narrowest of streets. Stone buildings abut the very edge of the village roads making passage in anything other than the smallest of vehicles a heart thumping experience. The countryside is dotted with wine tasting sites, best visited after trying to navigate the narrow town streets.
Perhaps the most notable area to serve as a travel nursing location in France is Paris, itself. Everyone loves Paris. While the outlying sections of Paris are hugely commercial and modern, no one can deny the charm of the center city. With miles of streets to wander, shops to explore, cafes to try, the aura of the city is magic. While the Eiffel Tower is a wonder and Notre Dame is magnificent, I particularly like the atmosphere of the left bank. The everyday life of its residents that walk down St. Germaine has a feel that is particularly appealing to my senses. It is citified, but genteel. The traffic and noise is apparent, but does not overpower the graceful charm of the surroundings. The area breathes life and energy along with a special graciousness.
The variety of experience from one area of France to another makes this country a desirable location for the travel nurse. So call a travel nursing agency, throw your nursing uniforms in your suitcase and head for “la belle France” for the experience of a lifetime.