Nursing in France

France has about 500,000 nurses (male and female are called nurse/nursing). Empathy, rigor, organization and sharp medical knowledge are their main characteristics making nursing in France one of the most important occupation. Nursing (women are the majority) is a demanding job, both physically and psychologically. If someone is planning to do this job is to have a secure job and not to study long then it is better to find another alternative or as they say “Go your way”. In addition to looking after, a nurse takes care of his patients. It must be good in his/her head, because nursing practitioners are regularly confronted with suffering, pain and in some cases even death. It must also be organized and rigorous: It happens to everyone to be wrong, but a nursing practitioner who makes a mistake must have the honesty to say it without delay, because the consequences can be very serious since being in the health sector, bad diagnosis are critical.

Practicing Nursing in France

To become a nurse or to practice nursing in France, applicants/students have to go through an IFSI (Nursing Training Institute). The studies last for three years and lead to the acquiring of a Diploma of State Nursing (DE). As from 2009, this diploma is equivalent to a license. There are 337 IFSIs that are spread throughout France. 277 of those are public and 60 private (often run by the Red Cross). Tuition fees do not depend on whether the IFSI they are studying in is either public or private. It is the regions that fund nurses’ education. Generally, they cover tuition fees for students under 26 years of age in the initial training. For applicants that are over 26 years of age and people who are in transition, funding is sometimes more complex and it can happen that the student has to pay between 800 and 3000 € of tuition fees per year. These costs may be borne by Frances’ “Pôle Emploi” or any other organizations in case of conversion, but everything is usually done on a case by case basis.

Examination Entrance to practice Nursing in France

Like doctors or physiotherapists, the profession is subject to a “numerus clausus”. The government sets each year the number of students allowed to continue their studies. For the year 2017/2018, it was set at 30,947, a figure that is relatively stable compared to last year. Unlike what happens in medicine or physiotherapy, the “numerus clausus” is large enough to absorb really serious candidates.

The exam consists of two written tests and one oral motivation.

Once back in their IFSI, students will receive for three years, a training of 50% of theory and 50% of practical training. The courses focus on medical knowledge of course (urology, cardiology, anatomy, etc.), but also on knowledge specific to the profession, that is to say the specific nursing care for each medical specialty.

What the 3 training years for nursing in France consists of:

2100 hours of teaching modules in IFSI of 35 hours per week. 2100 hours of training on the basis of 35 hours per week (15 weeks in the first year, 20 weeks in the second year and 25 weeks in the third year).

Approximately 900 hours of additional personal work, i.e. about 300 hours per year.

Students enjoy 27 weeks of vacation (2 weeks in spring, 5 weeks in summer and 2 weeks in winter). Through 6 teaching units, the future FDI acquires all theoretical knowledge, which it can reinvest in its professional practice.

Humanities, social sciences and law: psychology, anthropology, public health, ethics, deontology Biological and medical sciences: biology, handicap, traumatic, inflammatory, tumors, hygiene, pharmacy vigilance, Nursing Sciences and Techniques (Foundations and Methods): Nursing Project, Work Organization, Nurse Clinical Approach

Nursing science and techniques (interventions): comfort care, relationship care, preventive and educational care, emergency care, palliative care Integration of knowledge and professional posture: accompaniment of the person in the realization of daily care, evaluation of a clinical situation Working methods: English, Technologies and communication technologies.

A large part of the training consists of practical cases: Some IFSIs are very well equipped with equipment and materials, others are not. The latter is one of the things to consider when choosing a school. Students must complete four types of internships at least once in their schooling:

Short-term care

Long-term care

Places of life (retirement home, home hospitalization, exercise in liberals)



The state diploma (DE) in nursing care is the same for everyone. Those who want to specialize must continue their studies through continuing education. There are three area of specialization for nurses in France:

Nursery: specialization is available immediately after graduation

Block nurse

Nurse anesthetist

The last two specializations are only accessible with two years of professional experience.

Additional Studies

The state diploma of nursing in France is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, but there is still very little Master’s Degree in Nursing for students who wish to continue their studies. Currently, there are only two: Master’s degree in clinical sciences in nursing from Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University. It offers the options of psychiatry, chronic diseases and addictions (excluding cancer) and pain and palliative care. The master in clinical sciences nurses of the EHESP and the University of Aix-Marseille. The first year is in Paris and the second in Marseille. Students have the choice of three area of specialization: oncology, gerontology and nurse coordinator of complex care pathways.

Job Opportunities for Nursing in France with Diploma

There was a popular belief that France was short of nurses and that it was therefore very easy to find work out of school, however that’s not true anymore. We cannot talk about unemployment among nurses, but there is a real phenomenon of precariousness at the beginning of a career. Hospital centers now tend to favor short-term contracts or replacements. The job market for nurses is also very variable from one region to another. In the West, jobs are rare, while in Ile-de-France, it is much easier to quickly find a permanent contract. Nevertheless, the nursing diploma opens up a large number of work possibilities: The hospital remains the largest employer of nurses.

Liberal practice is attracting more and more candidates. In 2000, France had about 50 000 liberal nurses. Today, they are 109,925, for a total of 638,248. There are also nurses in companies, National Education, army, retirement home, care facility, rehabilitation. Some nurses go abroad to work, especially in Switzerland, where wages are higher.

What does Nursing in France involves?

Within the hospital, nurses are an important link in the medical team. They must be able to assist in the development of a diagnosis. They usually proceed to the specific care and the hygiene necessitated by the state of health of the patient: taking of the tension and the temperature, laying of dressings, blood samples and injections, preparation and distribution of the drugs, preparation of the patient for the operating room. They also perform administrative tasks: follow-up of medical records. They are the link between the patient and the hospital environment. The must be able to listen, meet families, provide support as well as psychological follow-up. The job is physically and psychologically demanding. The organization of work implies a permanent presence with the sick and patients. Working at night and during the weekend is one of the characteristics of the job. 85% of nurses in France work in a hospital, public or private institution, some open a private practice (2,000€ to 3,000€ per year) others work in schools, occupational health or other types of facilities structures (retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, anti-cancer centers or palliative care …). The profession is much feminized – 87% of nurses in France are women.

General Info on Nursing in France

Of the 660,600 nurses practicing in France as from latest data, 75% practice in a public or private health facility. The hospital public service alone employs 210 000 nurses and doctors ( service 24h geoallo ). They are classified in category A. After a few years of experience and success in examination, they can specialize in: nurse anesthesiologist, operating room nurse, nursery (general). This last specialty is prepared within one year. The nurse can also become a health executive after 4 years of experience or become a trainer in an IFSI. The nurse often chooses to work in the private sector or to settle in a liberal capacity. They must have practiced three years in a hospital to open an office. Settling (opening an office) means investing since they often have to buy a clientele (around € 15,000). In some areas that are under equipped with health professionals, the opening of an office can be facilitated by aids. The fact that there is an increase in life expectancy means that the Liberal sector should have a bright future ahead of it. The nurse may also choose to focus also on osteopathy. It benefits from training exemptions to pass the OD of osteopathy (2300 hours of training instead of the 4860 constituting the basic training).

Salary of nursing in France related jobs

The re-evaluation of wages in 2010 was accompanied by an increase in working years, the index frozen for six years has been revised upwards by 1.2%, but their purchasing power remains down. In France, the nursing salary is even lower than the average salary, according to the latest OECD report. In concrete terms, the nursing body is divided into four grades, which depend on the specialization and diploma obtained. Each grade is sub divided into steps. And at each level corresponds a certain number of index points. The index point, which was at € 4.63, rose to € 4.68 on February 1, 2017. The index point is the basis for calculating the non-premium salary. State-qualified nurses (FDIs), also referred to as specialized general care nurses (ISGS), have careers in the first and second grades. At the first step of the first rank, the gross salary is € 1615 per month (349 index points). At the last step of the second grade, after 31 years of career, the gross monthly salary is 2796.64 €. In order to move from one grade to another, most often, one has to have spent one year at the 5th grade and ten years of actual service.

Pediatric nurses and operating room nurses (IBODE) are in the second and third grades. They start their career by gaining € 1805.78 gross monthly and can hope to finish by touching € 2921.66.In the case of nurse anesthetists (IADE), they are in the third and fourth grades. This means that their minimum remuneration is € 1865.97. And, the maximum, fourth grade reaches 2972, 59 €. Each situation corresponds to a certain number of premiums, which coexist and can accumulate, for example:

The start of career bonus, around 39 € monthly

Nurse bonus, 90 € monthly

The night premium, around one euro per hour

The contagion premium

Sunday bonus and holidays

The family premium calculated according to the index, at least € 2.29 for a child and € 181 for three.

These are not bonuses but these bonuses also play on the payroll:

The residence allowance (percentage of gross salary)


The new index subsidy (NBI), which depends on the service in which the nurse works, geriatric work is worth 10 additional index points


There are big pay gaps in the different European countries. A French nurse earns twice as much money as a Hungarian nurse but half as much as a Luxembourg nurse. Of course, we must also take into account the standard of living, social benefits and constraints of each country. In France, it does take a lot of time for nurses to get to the top and not something one should consider if they are looking for a simple and stable job since the latter is mentally and physically taxing. In France there are 9.9 nurses (2015) citizen, meaning it is above average among the European countries which is pretty good considering how the remuneration they get. A hard job but with enough effort, one can go far.