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Important information

Target audience

AudienceStatutory refugees, Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, Stateless people, Beneficiaries of temporary protection
Level of FrenchB2, C1, C2


Be in possession of a residence permit or a receipt
Have a end of high school level

Where is it?

Become a nurse in France

Updated on il y a 2 mois

What is it?

Nursing diplomas outside the European Union are not recognized in France and refugees must start their studies again to obtain a French diploma and be able to practice.

It takes 3 years of higher education to obtain a State Diploma in Nursing (DEI). The studies include theoretical courses and practical internships.

It is possible to obtain this degree in 2 years instead of 3 years, depending on your previous experiences in the field of health.

The Nursing Training Institutes (IFSI) are the only establishments that can issue a DEI.

There are more than 300 IFSI in France. You can find the list of IFSIs by clicking here.

You must have at least a B2 level of French.

How to do it?

People with diplomas from outside the European Union must resume their studies in a Nursing Training Institute (IFSI) to complete their education there and obtain the State diploma in Nursing.

Four registration methods are possible:

  • Enroll in the first year of IFSI by Parcoursup. Registration is done on the Parcoursup platform. Once registered, it is possible to validate some of the subjects that you have already taken in your country of origin.
  • Enter IFSI by competitive examination after three years of professional experience in France in any field (continuing professional training).
  • Enter IFSI after one year of college (gateway after PASS or LAS).
  • Accelerated nursing studies for people holding a diploma allowing them to practice medicine or midwifery in their country.

Moreover, after the first year, nursing studies can be done as an apprenticeship.

All supporting documents to be added to your registration files must be written in French or translated by a certified translator.

> To read: the sheet "Obtain an official translation of a document"

You will find on the Parcoursup website information on registration dates (which begin in January) and how to proceed.

You will also find on Parcoursup advice and details on nursing studies.

After registration, it is possible to be exempted from some of the subjects already validated in the country of origin.

For this, you must present a file to a commission of the institute and then pass an oral interview. It is this commission that decides on subject exemptions.

Here is the list of documents to put in your file:

  • a CV,
  • a cover letter,
  • the original of the diplomas obtained,
  • a comparison of the study program followed by the candidate in the country of origin compared to the French program.
In general, this exemption only allows recognition of a few subjects in a semester and does not go beyond the validation of a semester or a maximum of one year.

It is possible to enter an IFSI by competitive examination after three years of professional experience in France. Any adult, whatever their age and level of diploma, can take part in this competition.

Depending on the course, exemptions are possible for the first year.

The conditions to be fulfilled in order to register for the IFSI competition are to have worked full-time for 3 years and to have contributed to a social protection scheme during this period (36 months) in France and in any field (there is no need to have worked in the field of health before, but it can help you be selected).

Professional experience makes it possible to contribute to social security and to be subsequently financed by the Pôle emploi for the nurse training.

Your file should contain:

  • supporting documents (e.g. employment contract) proving your experience,
  • an in-depth cover letter explaining what led you to a retraining project as a nurse.

Once you have registered, you have to sit a competitive entrance exam including two written tests (general knowledge and mathematics) and an oral test.

Please note that the nursing competition takes place every year around February-March.

Refugees can work as care assistants. This job allows them to familiarise themselves with the medical environment in France and with medical French.

To help you prepare for entry to the IFSI and for work, click here for advice on reading, films and how to brush up your knowledge (French, maths, anatomy).

A refugee can sometimes apply for the two traditional access routes to medical studies: the PASS (specific health access path) and the LAS (bachelor with the “health access” option), in the first year of higher education.

Good to know: Students who validate their first year of PASS or LAS, without passing the entrance examination for the second year of medical training, can sometimes have a gateway to an IFSI. Direct access to the second year may be possible. It is the institutions that define their admission procedures.

People holding a diploma allowing them to practice outside the European Union in medicine or midwifery can do accelerated nursing studies (six months) with internships in the hospital.

See: Order of July 31, 2009 relating to the State nursing diploma, article 9

You can find by clicking here the list of institutions offering these courses in Île-de-France.

To register, you must present an application file and pass an oral examination before a jury made up of the director of the NTI, the educational coordinator and a health manager. This oral is used to assess the level of French, motivation and professional project.

What happens next?

Nursing studies represent a cost. The training generally lasts 3 years, with a rhythm of 35 hours per week. It is therefore difficult to work at the same time.

In certain situations, it is possible to have your studies financed in NTI or to receive aid.

There are two types of IFSI, public and private, and tuition fees vary by type of institution and region.

The cost of studies:

Training in public IFSI is free for all students continuing their studies and/or registered with Pôle Emploi.

However, the university registration fees for a bachelor's degree are € 170 (for 2022-2023) and the Contribution to Student and Campus Life (CVEC) of € 92 (in 2022) are not covered by the state, unless you have a scholarship.

People with refugee, subsidiary protection and asylum seeker status do not have to pay the CVEC and some universities also allow exemption from registration fees.

It is also necessary to plan a budget between € 90 and € 120 for the registration to the nursing competition to enter the IFSI.

In private and Red Cross institutes, in addition to entrance examination and university registration fees, tuition fees can vary between € 700 and € 2,000 per year depending on the training structures.

Finally, the purchase of books and materials can vary between € 30 and € 200 .

Financial aid:

  • Pôle emploi can finance up to € 8,000 per year for people who have worked and contributed for at least six months . Pôle emploi assistance varies by region. You will find more detailed information on the different Pôle emploi benefits here.
  • The Region can also fund a monthly grant for paramedical professions. You can apply online. For Île-de-France, you will find the necessary information here .
  • It is also possible to benefit from a study allowance contract. The study allowance contract is a monthly scholarship, paid to a student from the second year of training, in return for a commitment to serve 18 to 30 months within the hospital with which he signs the contract. This contract can be combined with the regional grant.
  • If you live in Île-de-France, you can find all the aid available by clicking here.

During the training, the students benefit from internship and transport allowances.

For example, these internship allowances in 2023 are:

  • € 36 per week of internship in the 1st year
  • € 46 per week of internship in 2nd year
  • € 60 per week of internship in 3rd year

Doing an apprenticeship as a nurse also allows you to finance your studies.

From the second year , training can be done as an apprenticeship for people under 30 years old. The student is employed by a hospital which will finance his studies and the student undertakes to work as a caregiver during the school holidays at the hospital.

To do an apprenticeship, you must:

  • Be under the age of 30 or have Recognition of the Quality of "Disabled Worker" without age condition
  • Be admitted to a partner IFSI
  • Have validated your first year of training and obtained the nursing assistant equivalence
  • Have found an employer

After obtaining the nursing diploma, you can work as a nurse in a hospital or in private practice.

It is also possible to continue studies to specialize, in 4 ways:

  • Operating Room Nurse (18 months of study)
  • Nurse-childcare worker (1 year of study)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (after 2 years of practice)
  • Advanced Practice Nurse (2 years of study and 3 years of practice as a nurse)

Finally, after 4 years of practice, it is possible to access management positions by validating the health management diploma (10 months).

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