The nurse practitioner profession has been developing slowly across Europe. Here at ThriveAP headquarters, we receive a lot of questions from nurse practitioners looking to work abroad. So, over the next few weeks, we’re looking at the process for working internationally as a NP certified to practice in the U.S. If the turquoise waters of the French Riviera, the lavender fields of Provence, or the romantic appeal of the Eiffel Tower are calling your name, here’s how to practice as a nurse practitioner in France.
Scope of Practice
The nurse practitioner profession in France is still developing and the role of advanced practice nurses has yet to be nationally recognized. Its establishment has been difficult in that there is not an agreement among organizations and government entities as to what the role should look like and how the role will be solidified. The public’s demand for access to affordable healthcare paired with a shortage of physicians, however, has been a great motivator in its development.
In 2014, President Francios Hollande, announced that the advanced practice nursing profession should be officially launched within a few years. In fact, that same year, French advanced practice nurses took the steps necessary to found the French Advanced Practice Nursing Network (REPASI). But according to REPASI, to date, though hundreds of nurses have been engaged in the two Master’s of Nurse Science programs currently offered in the country, decrees that would define the profession remain forthcoming. So far, graduates do not have roles in France as advanced practice nurses, and nor do they receive pay to reflect their level of education.
Certification and Licensure
Nurse practitioners certified in the United States must determine what value practicing in France holds for them and if practicing as a registered nurse is an option while waiting for the NP role to evolve. Though an alternative option, becoming a registered nurse in France, still requires jumping through quite a few hurdles as nursing degrees obtained outside the European Union are not recognized.
Per the ARS Ile-de-France (France’s Regional Health Agency) the process of obtaining licensure to practice in France requires foreign nurses to first demonstrate mastery of the French language through a language certification exam. After doing so, nurses are then required to pass three knowledge verification tests. Nurses may apply for these tests with the National Management Centre. The results of the exams will determine what courses foreign nurses may be required to take in order to receive a recognized diploma in order to practice as a nurse in France.
U.S. certified nurse practitioners may be able to avoid this testing requirement. According to a French bulletin from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, as a nurse practitioner educated outside of the European Union, in lieu of taking the exams and any required courses, NPs may be eligible for a waiver to practice as a nurse or a nurse’s aide within the region in where the advanced practice nurse plans to reside.
As an American Citizen you must also check with the French Office of Immigration and Integration to see what work permits and/or visas may be required of you. The requirements vary depending upon your employment status and other variables. You may, for example, be eligible for a Visa to live in the country as a student while completing any required courses. You may also be required to provide a work contract with your place of employment in France in order to be granted a work permit.
Nurse practitioners considering relocation to Europe, and particularly France, must think carefully about such a career transition. Without a closely defined scope of practice, and an advance practice profession in the early stages of development, U.S. certified NPs will likely find themselves working below their level of education. On the other hand, being a part of a developing profession can be an exciting way to make a mark on the international advanced practice scene.