I. French 370: Physicians, Patients, and Illness in Today’s France (3 credit hours, mandatory)

How does one become a physician in France? How did medical studies change when France joined the European Union? This course focuses on French medicine as seen from a theoretical and a practical perspective. It examines in detail the French healthcare system, its development, the problems it faces today and introduces students to current medical issues and various aspects of the medical profession through a series of lectures by professors from the Nice medical school and other selected healthcare specialists. Students also have the opportunity to learn the “gestes médicaux” during two classes held at the Simulation Center at Nice Medical School, observe hospital routine, and follow cases in the department of their choice at one of the major hospitals of Nice  (Lenval Children’s Hospital, L’Archet, Lacassagne, Pasteur). Other possibilities may include a veterinary clinic, a nursing school, a bioanalysis laboratory or a large pharmacy. About the internship, students say it best:

“I have gained valuable communication skills relevant to my abilities in French as well as to my future career as a doctor.  The best part about “shadowing” is being able to interact and communicate with patients and doctors.  This experience is not something that can be learned in a classroom.”


I no longer have any doubt in my mind as to whether I want to do medicine. I know for sure that this is what I want for my career and my life, and I’m ready to work harder than ever to succeed in it.” (Leah)”It was a realistic experience.  Instead of just going in to shadow a surgery for a few hours, we were able to see the daily lives of the doctors and students as well, from doing rounds to filling out paper work, and of course a lot of time spent in both consultations and the operating room.”


II.  Choice of one of the following academic courses (students choose only one)

1) French 3111: Culture and Public Health in Contemporary France

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.  How are we to understand these ideals in the context of contemporary France?  To what extent do they apply to immigrants, to the underprivileged, to the dependent elderly?  How are these traditional French values reflected in public health policy? In order for students to better understand French values and how they are transposed into public policy, this course examines a certain number of fundamental tenets : the Republic, citizenship, secularity, taking examples from key episodes in French history.  It also calls upon health specialists to explore what is being done to improve public health for all, and especially for an aging population which constitutes, in today’s France, the most important challenge.  Following are some of the themes which will be discussed : the loss of autonomy of the elderly, handicapped people, attitudes of the French toward alternative medicines, how the French deal with emergencies, measures of prevention and basic health education.

2) French 383: Literature and Medicine

 “Anecdotes are not reliable evidence!” so we’ve been told over and over again and yet we’ve known for some time that storytelling can serve a valuable purpose: it can amplify retention, produce change and inspire action. The business world has long recognized the power of story to sell. The medical field, on the other hand, is just now rediscovering the benefits of applying narrative to medical education. This current medical trend was anticipated four hundred years ago by several health care providers who clearly understood the powerful appeal of combining medical skill with creativity.

This course will explore patients’ stories as well as the ways sixteenth-century physicians and midwives employed storytelling forms to facilitate their advocacy, self-promotion, and transmission of medical knowledge.  The authors studied include well-known writers of the sixteenth century like François Rabelais and Michel de Montaigne as well as lesser-known figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Girolamo Fracastoro, Laurent Joubert, Jacques Ferrand, and Béroalde de Verville.

Credits and Grades

Upon arrival in Nice, a placement test will be given to confirm students’ choice of courses, and the Program Director will meet with students individually. Students will receive a total of 6 credit hours for two courses (3 credits each).  Students may also request a professor’s evaluation for each of the courses taken to be sent to their major advisor.


The program is organized and taught by Washington University faculty, French healthcare specialists or other qualified instructors. The on-site director will always be available to assist students on an individual basis and to solve academic or housing problems. 

Living accommodations

As the authentic way to discover a foreign culture is to share the daily life of the native inhabitants, each student is housed with a French family. Total immersion in French life enhances the student’s knowledge of French language and social customs. Particular attention is given to the association between the students and his/her host family, based on a housing questionnaire filled out by the student.

Accommodation in a French home includes a private room and meals. Students are free from Friday at 1:00 p.m. until Sunday evening. They may choose to travel to another country (Italy, Spain, and Switzerland) or remain with their host family and discover famous sites of historical and cultural interest in the surrounding area.