A Doctors Tour of France, One Medical Desert at a Time
In “A Doctors Tour of France, One Medical Desert at a Time,” newly graduated physician Dr. Martial Jardel recounts his 5-month road trip across France, visiting “medical deserts” where doctors are in short supply. While he’s there, he offers to take on two doctors’ jobs while they’re on vacation to help alleviate doctor shortages.
Dr. Martial Jardel’s 2,800-mile road trip
In the past few months, Dr. Martial Jardel has driven more than two thousand miles in a camper van to visit rural French towns and help them find a doctor. He chronicles his experience on his website and Instagram account, which has more than 1,500 followers. Jardel hopes that his journey will inspire a younger generation of doctors to consider a career in the rural areas. While there is an acute shortage of physicians in many regions, rural areas offer a variety of opportunities.
During his trip, Dr. Jardel met nurses who worked at nursing homes. He also learned about the problems of medical staffing in rural areas. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these issues. The French government eliminated a limit on medical students, but the number of general practitioners is still far below the national average.
French government’s efforts to reduce medical school enrollment
French medical school enrollment is limited by government regulation, and the number of students accepted is determined by a competitive exam. Currently, 12 percent of the medical workforce is foreign trained. This situation may make it more difficult for doctors to choose primary care and specialize in more advanced fields. Furthermore, heavily indebted doctors are more likely to work longer hours, which may result in medical errors. A French medical school consists of two years of general scientific training, with a competitive examination at the end of the first year. The exam guides students to specialize in a particular field, such as research, clinical care, or biology.
The French government has also been experimenting with a public health student service that helps students become involved in community-based primary prevention actions. In this effort, students help the community reduce health-related costs, which can range from obesity to addiction. The service sanitaire aims to improve health literacy, which is a key to reducing medical school enrollment.
French doctor shortages
Despite its reputation as one of the best health care systems in the world, France’s health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. Not only are hospitals suffering from a doctor shortage, but the crisis has spread to the rest of the country and beyond. The shortage has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, which has put heavy pressure on doctors and other health personnel. In response, President Emmanuel Macron has launched a month-long mission to find solutions to the problem.
In some regions of the country, the shortage of doctors has been particularly severe, particularly in sparsely populated areas. The French government has taken steps to increase the number of medical students, but the shortage of general practitioners is still a huge problem. For example, there are currently only 400 general practitioners per 100,000 residents in the Paris and French Riviera, compared to the national average of 340.
Dr. Jardel’s experiences in Cotentin Peninsula
A few months ago, Dr. Jardel made a trip to the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy, France. On a bicycle, he headed for the regional nursing home. He was met by a woman named Natacha Carlat. The nursing home had been suffering from a coronavirus outbreak, so there were staffing problems.
The Cotentin peninsula is part of the Armorican Massif, and lies between the Vire river estuary and the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. It is divided into three parts, known collectively as “le Marais.” The peninsula is located in the Manche department, south of Saint Lo, and east of Lessay.