Freelancer differences between dentists and doctors in France

Differences between a dentist and a doctor in France

Have you ever heard the phrase “I’ll go the doctor to fix my molar”? If you said “yes”, we got some news for you, a doctor is not the same thing as a dentist. Yes, it may sound interesting(and pretty much obvious in some cases), but actually there are lots of people who do not realize such a big difference. In France, people do realize when to say they will be at the doctor and when to say they will be at the dentist, for them, the importance of a dentist is almost the same as for the doctor, both of the occupations have similarities such as: They both belong to the health-care services, you must make an appointment by phone (putting attention to sympathize with the secretary if she is not on the greatest mood), wait for a long period of time for your appointment to be available, get examined, get medicine prescribed and get out of the clinic. There are some of particularities between both that makes that slight difference.

Beginning with the fact that, you may find that those occupations will have your health covered to the toe, they emphasize in different areas, they both promote wellness but in different ways. While you will need to tell the secretary all your symptoms for the dentist to know what might he/she do, you will need to be examined by the doctor personally, answering questions and being the most accurate you can at the moment. They work under the public health system, which stipulates that you will get your money reimbursed , in other words, you will receive a reimbursement from the social security system (70% of the official rate) and your voluntary health insurance will be covering the payment for your balance.

But, if we take a look to those professions from a more internal point of view, we would notice why is it important to know the differences. Have you ever wonder, what are the solidly stipulated differences between them? We know the basic information about them, one is responsible for making any problem related to your teeth, to be arranged healthy and aesthetically(yes, you have heard this word recently). The other is in charge of taking care of any problem that you have in any party of the body. Now, do you know how do they operate?

In France, dentists ( ) and doctors must complete an undergraduate degree and a doctoral program “programme de doctorat”. According to some studies, both occupations require them to know about biology, chemistry, math and communications. Upon graduating, the exam that they must do has a different name which include as well, a different knowledge (examens de fin d’études)

As in other parts of the world, the degree for medicine and dentist needs 4 years. Both of them take half of their degree studying and learning about the different subjects their professions demands, and the other half, practicing their knowledge on the ground (assiting people in their illness, depending on the case). The difference lies in how many rotations they should be into. Med students make several rotations when being on their practice in areas such as internal medicine and pediatrics, while dent students must complete one single in basic oral-care rotation. Another difference is the number of specialities they can be developed into. Dent students may choose from nine areas of specialities, just to mention some like public health, oral surgery, maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. On the other hand, doctors can pursue into a huge variety of specialities, ranging from obstetrics, psychiatry, cardiovascular surgeries or gastroenterology. Depending on the speciality to choose, usually are the doctors who take longer than dentist to complete their vocational training.

Although dentists and doctores love to have high expectations, it is proven that unlike other countries, in France both professions have great possibilities of achieving success, thanks to the public french health system. Even so, doctors tend to earn more money than dentists because of the high costs that certain surgical interventions can cost. The statistics show that doctors gain 24% more due the population ages and demands more health services that consider really important for their health. For dentists, the number of jobs is putting itself as not so important for the population, as elderly people keep their teeth and need complicated oral care. Obviously, for both areas, the newest technology and the insurance-reimbursement practices will shape job opportunities whereas they can make more profit in undeserved areas such as rural markets and maybe urban cores.

Another area that is important to share, is that dentist enjoy higher median pay than doctores, and more if the doctors are specialized certainly. Dentists took home a median annual salary of 40.000€, compared with the 87.276€ approximately among the doctors

French dentist, unlike doctors, they will not require for you to stay with the same dentist until your treatment is done, as happens with the doctors (whom will ask you to stay until you complete your medical intervention), they give you the freedom to choose whoever dentist you want t, though, there are not as many dentist as you would like to. In both cases, you will need to present your Carte Vitale (that is the insurance card), in the case you do not have it, you will be receiving a “feuille de soins” that is a kind of a health form that will help them to recognize you and for you to be helped.

In the case of the dentists, if you need an emergency intervention on Sunday, they are allowed to charge you additional money, that is equally reimbursable. The charged are kept artificially low by the government to ensure that basic dental treatment is available for everyone, there are even some dentists that are permitted to charge more than these rates, that is called “le dépassement d’honoraries), so that actually means that you do not need to ask the dentist for their price list(something pretty common there). In those cases, the excess is not significant, depending on the charge that the dentist will ask you to pay, the level of reimbursement remains the same. They are given the freedom to set their own prices for non-routine treatment in return for the government to keep the common prices low, like crowns, prosthetics and ,in some cases, orthodoctics. When visiting one, upon arrival, let the secretary know you’re there and if there’s no secretary, go to the salle d’attente(waiting room) for your particular doctor. In most cases, the door will be marked as such and in a practice with multiple doctors, again go to the waiting room for your particular doctor. Showing up early to your appointment in France is not necessary in most cases, and a few minutes late is fine because there is no doctor who is on time. Thirty minutes behind seems to be the norm and you can wait more minutes past you appointment time for two specialists.

For the doctors, there is another procedure for a complete evaluation, because if you wish to ensure full eligibility to reimbursement of your heath costs, you will e required to registered yourself with a doctor as their “médecin traitant”, as we were saying before, doctors need for you to be there personal patient, this way they ensure you keep looking for them only. You can still choose not to register a general practitioner, but that way will increase the medical fees you might get, plus that fact that you will receive a lower rate when asking for your reimbursement from the social security health system. The process of registering with a doctor takes place when you are joining to the health system through the local “Caisse Primaire d’assurance Maladie” or CPAM. They must give you a specific form that you need to fulfill, and that form must be returned to the doctor every time you make a visit. There is even another easy way, that is you to download the Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant, which you might complete and then take it to the doctor as well.

In the french country, it is pretty common that the direct family members register themselves with separate doctors, depending the issues that they want them to solve, they might be feeling more comfortable being with a female or a male doctor. The problem here lies in the moment you need or want to change from one doctor to another, you must make the same process that we have described and wait for the doctor confirm you to be his/her new patient, they have the freedom to accept or decline the applicants if they wish to.

In both cases, you can go directly to a specialist, but the truth is that they might be asking you to pay the double a normal one would charge, that means double financial penalty, although the additional sum involved is unlikely to be prohibitive if you feel absolutely necessary. This might no be an important for routine consultations, but i can get far more expensive if you need substantial specialist medical care. There are also certain specialists whom patients can continue to see direct without having to pass through their doctor. These specialists are gynaecologists and ophthalmologists. Those under 26 years of age also have the right of direct access to a psychiatrist. Patients  that are having a special illness and need a repeat or continuous course of treatment from a specialist need to only be referred once by one doctor, for them also to receive their reimbursement.

Yes, yes, we know doctors and dentists all over the world run late and it’s not specific to France, but we must say no one is ever on time here. The wait might be a little frustrating at first, but once you realize it’s how things are done, you’ll appreciate the power of a good book or smartphone app. Why are doctors in France late? Because they actually take the time (in most cases) to thoroughly examine you and ask questions. If a patient refuses to let another doctor or specialist have access to their medical records then it is envisaged they will receive a lower rate of reimbursement for their treatment.

There is great concern in the medical profession about this change, which many consider will be a bureaucratic and IT nightmare. There is also concern it breaches the principal of the right of ‘professional secrecy’ between doctor and patient. It is already clear that the system is only partially in place in some areas, and there are doubts that it will ever be properly implemented due to legal and technical problems. Generally, under government plans it is proposed to that each doctor will hold computerised medical records of their patients (dossier medical personnel), and coordinate any treatment that might be required by specialists.

With this we can make a list of the things you should consider not to do when visiting a dentist.

-Do not wait for a call to confirm your appointment beforehand. You’ll be waiting and waiting and your appointment will pass on by.        

-Do not wait until the last minute to make a dermatologist, dentist or other specialist appointment. Unless you live in a major city (and even then it can still be problematic), it can take a little while for a doctor to have an opening. 

-Do not ask the doctor if he/she is the doctor. No, they don’t wear a white coat or have a stethoscope around their necks to clue the clueless in. And yes, some doctors are young, wear necklaces and have shirts that aren’t buttoned all the way up. It’s France, get used to it. Just be cool because being a doctor in France sometimes mean you dress very un-doctor-like. 

-When you get to the exam room/personal office, don’t get right to business if the doctor wants to chat. A little small talk is often a welcome change.