In Cluj, the discomfort of French medical students

In Cluj, the discomfort of French medical students

Sharing Share on Facebook Share on Facebook Send by e-mail Send by e-mail Share on Messenger Share on Messenger Share on Whatsapp Share on Whatsapp More options More options More options Twitter Linkedin Copy link French students follow a course in a laboratory at the University of Medicine and Pharmacology in Cluj-Napoca City. DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP

What is happening among French medical students at the University of Cluj-Napoca, in Romania? In four weeks, between early March and early April, the small community of these young expatriates was hit by two suicides and two suicide attempts by female students. A terrible chain which reveals a deep uneasiness, if one believes certain families and the French authorities. The four young women were indeed all enrolled in this Romanian university which has become famous in recent years for offering a new chance to French people who have failed in their first year of medicine.

In exchange for registration fees of 5,000 euros per year, nearly 500 hope to obtain a Romanian diploma valid in France in this city of 300,000 inhabitants, located 450 kilometers northwest of Bucharest, where medical courses are given in French. Including students in pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine, Cluj has more than 1,000 students from France.

For Margaux Baudin's 24-year-old father, who hanged himself on March 3, there is no doubt that his daughter fell victim to overwork. She left us a letter in which she explains that she prefers to live elsewhere than to survive here and that she did not see how she could manage to become a doctor, explains Rémi Baudin.

Like most of the other French students from Cluj, her daughter had failed twice in the first year of medicine in France, but wanted at all costs to become a doctor and had expatriated in 2010. When he left his home in Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, in the Yvelines, to go and collect his daughter's body, he remembered the surprise he had when organizing a meeting with the students. I expected to see ten or fifteen students, there were two hundred and fifty in the amphitheater; they were all desperate, assures M.Baudin. According to him, all expressed frustration at working intensively away from their families despite an uncertain future, due to the difficulties of the French medical community to accept these students who bypass the numerus clausus. Margaux says in her message that she felt a rejection of the French state, recalls her father.

Another student defenestrated herself on March 27. Two others attempted suicide in March and early April, but survived. This wave of suicidal acts ended up worrying the management of the University of Cluj, which set up a psychological cell on March 27, but this ensures that no link could be established with the educational process or the school situation: the causes seem to be personal in nature.

The French ambassador in Bucharest and the director of the French Institute in Cluj have however decided to open the doors of the institute urgently throughout the Easter weekend to discuss with the students. More than a hundred came, says the director, Benoît Bavouset. A discomfort arose around the difficulty and the uncertainty of the return to France. These are students who spend six years in Romania and who feel they are insufficiently prepared for internship, he believes.

The students who took action were all enrolled at the end of the fourth, fifth or sixth year and hoped to be able to take the national class examination (ECN) in order to return to their internship in France. A possibility obtained in 2013 by the Corporation of Medicine of Cluj (an association defending the French-speaking students of the city), which had made cancel by the Council of State a decree signed in 2011 prohibiting the French students of the foreign universities the access to the ECN. < / p>

Despite this authorization, the conditions for preparing for this exam are not the same as in France. In fact, students must follow the normal Romanian curriculum, while preparing for the French exam in the evening. They also do not have access to the digital preparation platform, reserved for students of French universities. The results of the first students who reached the end of their study cycle in 2013 and 2014 turned out to be poor: the first student from Cluj arrived 4505th out of more than 8000 candidates. This classification is crucial, because it then allows you to choose your specialty.

Do these difficulties partly explain these suicidal acts? Dimitri Moulu, president of the Corporation of Medicine of Cluj, remains very cautious. If there is a lot of pressure from the ECN, it ensures that each case is individual. We are far from home, we are in another system and in a country that has recently emerged from communism. There are X reasons, he believes.

Sent on site in early April by the Quai d Orsay crisis cell, the French psychiatrist Pascal Pannetier reminds him that suicide is always a multifactorial enigma. But there is a risk situation in Cluj, with things that can precipitate suicides in cascade. Students have a low self-esteem because of the failure they suffered in France. There is also a phenomenon of isolation of young people, obsessed with their studies and their success. Many come from families of doctors who have made a big investment and carry a family project that can exceed them, he adds.

On his recommendations, a listening line was set up by around fifty student volunteers, who follow each other 24 hours a day to answer possible calls from comrades in distress. For its part, the French Embassy in Bucharest is doing everything to convince the Ministry of Higher Education to facilitate the return to France of these students for their internship. A meeting with the various Romanian and French actors concerned by the preparation for the ECN will be held before the summer in the presence of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health and Education and Higher Education, with the aim of providing solutions to the anxieties of certain students, the ministry of national education is told.

M.Baudin has stopped working to create an association on behalf of his daughter, intended to support all students abroad. While classes resumed on Monday April 20 in Cluj, Benoît Bavouset, director of the French Institute, says he remains extremely vigilant but has the feeling of having gone from a vicious circle to a virtuous circle, thanks to dialogue. He now wishes to work for the local integration of a population that seems to be living in a confinement that no one had previously perceived.

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Events in Cluj napoca