There are plenty of candidates in the medical field offering their skills to hospitals, clinics and surgeries outside their home country with a view to enhancing their professional career. Today qualifications are more comparable than ever, which facilitates international moves. Here, Greek dentist Maria K. explains just how successful her relocation to France has been.
Dentist Maria K. arrived in France in 2016. Having qualified in dentistry at the University of Plovdiv in her Greek homeland in 2000 after studying at the French School of Piraeus, she worked for a hospital before striking out on her own as an independent dentist in 2002. In 2008, she spent six months in Germany where she specialised in implantology. This international experience encouraged her to look at how to achieve her deepest desire and make a permanent move abroad. She was interested in French culture, had studied the language at school and appreciated the quality of life that could be enjoyed in France. She was also aware that moving to France would be a fantastic opportunity for professional development. In 2016, she answered a job advert and the adventure began. Here is her story.
- How did you come to work abroad?
I had been thinking about leaving Greece for a little while. France was an interesting option as I’d learnt French at school in Greece. As a little girl, I dreamt of going to Paris. And I've always found France fascinating, so I decided to answer an advert for a job here.
- Did you have any particular concerns about your move abroad?
Well, I was certainly worried! I didn’t know much about France and had never been here before. I had a lot of questions about the country itself and was also afraid to leave my family for a country I didn’t know well. But I looked up a lot of information and sought advice. Once I had answers to most of my questions, I felt ready to come to France.
- Did you have any help with your move?
I was helped by a company specialising in international mobility, which also looked after my recruitment. I wouldn’t be in France today without their help. They were always available to me and I knew I could ask any questions on my mind. I was given help with all aspects of my move and arrival in France, including registering with the French College of Dental Surgeons (Ordre des Chirurgiens Dentistes). If I’d needed help finding accommodation, I could have asked for it too.
- How was your first day at work in France?
When I arrived, I didn’t know how the practice worked. The dental nurse took the time to carefully explain and show me how things were organised. I also lacked technical vocabulary. But the nurses and other dentists really helped me and I’m so grateful: after a month I had everything under control!
- What has it been like becoming part of the practice?
I’m delighted with the way things have gone. The nurses and group dental manager have been so welcoming. They’re always available if I need a hand. I get on well with my dentist colleagues and we often have lunch together.
- What are your current thoughts on your role?
I love this job. Right from day one I’ve had plenty of patients. Lots of them now book appointments with me specially for a range of treatments. My patients are loyal and come back to me because of the quality of my care. My position is secure as a result.
- What do you think about pay in France compared to Greece?
I make a good living in France. The demands are high and I have to work quickly and well, but the salary reflects this. The working conditions are also helpful as we have all the equipment we need at our disposal.
- How long do you see yourself staying?
I like living in France and I hope to stay here as long as I can. I earn a good living and like both my job and the practice where I work: I’ve no reason to want to leave. Things have changed since I came to France alone and didn't want my family to follow me as I wasn’t sure I’d want to stay here long-term. Now I love my job and life here and my family will be joining me shortly.
- What do you think of the French medical system?
I partly wanted to leave Greece for professional reasons. The country’s economic crisis aside, dentistry isn't well respected and there’s a lack of recognition and support from patients. Dentists don't have many resources, social security is a long way from what it is in France and medical treatment is expensive. Patients often refuse to pay and don’t heed dentists’ advice on treatment, mostly for financial reasons.
In France things are very different! Dental care is paid for by social security here and this really improves our working experience. Patients listen to us, follow our advice and are open to the treatments suggested by the dentist. They sometimes even request specific treatments! Also, opportunities to evolve are in France.
- What advice would you give to doctors and dentists wanting to come and live in France?
My advice would be to learn to work quickly and well. Salaries are high in France but have to be earnt.