Monday, January 25, 2010

Visite médicale

I recently received an email from my boss telling me I had been convoquée for my visite médicale.  I was a little surprised because I had no idea why I needed to pass a medical visit; I had just done one in June for my titre de séjour.  Lionel explained to me that you are required to have a medical visit when you start a new job to make sure you are in good health and able to do your job.  And then, you have to go back for these work-related medical visits every year. 

This was the first I had ever heard of these medical visits for work and I find it a little ridiculous.  It seems like that must cost a lot of money to have everyone who is employed go in for a mandatory medical visit every year.  It also seems like a waste of time.  The French love their doctors and their medicine, and it seems to me that if they have a problem, they will most likely run off to the doctor immediately so they can avoid work for a few days and stop at the pharmacy to fill their apartments with piles of medications.  Also, I have been working at my job since June.  If their was a serious problem preventing me from doing my job, I don't think I would still be doing it in January.  And then (and I know this isn't the case for everyone) I had to cancel a lesson to go to the medical visit this morning, and therefore lose money.  This didn't make me very happy as I felt no need to go see a doctor, except that I was told I had to.

So I went to the visit today.  Visiting a doctor in France is always a miserable experience for me.  I hate it and I always feel like they are being unnecessarily rude and like they are looking down on me.  And this visit didn't really change my opinion. The woman at the accueil acted like I was stupid when I asked her to repeat herself because I couldn't hear her over her colleague who was speaking to her at the same time that she was asking me questions.  She then proceeded to ask me questions using the most basic vocabulary possible because she was convinced that I couldn't understand normal French.  She even asked me if I thought I could faire pipi because they wanted to get a urine sample, and apparently the only term I could possibly know was one most commonly used with children!

The rest of the visit went pretty smoothly and the actual médecin was extremely nice (surprising for a French woman) and even chatted with me about life in general and what I hoped to do with my career and life in the future.  She was even nice enough to compliment my French (apparently she didn't think I needed phrases like faire pipi to understand the language).  I'm just glad it's done and that I was considered to be apte au poste, meaning I can continue to work the job I have been working.

My question is, what happens if they say you can't work your job?


  1. Your medical visit certificate for your CdS should have been accepted by your employer. That's what I do every year.. make photocopies of it and pass it off, and then they are happy to not have to spend the money on sending you there.
    What a condescending brat though, that woman! I've had some fun medical visits myself. Once it was a really old man doctor and he asked me to stand up and turn around (I was in my undies) and when I sat down, he nodded with approval and said, "your husband is a really lucky man." Whaaaat!

  2. ugh, i hate it when, upon hearing the merest trace of an english accent, the french condescend to you...i mean, i guess the americans don't have a great track record when it comes to languages but....come on guys. not nice.

    although i've found that most people don't change their manner toward me now. just stupid flirty guys in the shop (" have an accent, mademoiselle?")

    a bientot
    -The Paris Food Blague

  3. Depending on what makes you "not apte" for the job, I think you can be classified as a "travailler handicapé" and then your company pays less fines because they probably don't conform to the 6% of workforce rule for hiring the disabled. While it does seem like kind of a dumb requirement, the medecin du travail could be the first one to hear about workplace harassement or a bosses refusal to get an adapted keyboard for someone with carpal tunnel (or to diagnose the carpal tunnel), etc etc. There are also lots of weird workplace dangers. My husband, for example, would first go to the medecin du travail if he thought he'd been over-irradiated (he's an x-ray tech).

  4. I was going to say the same as L - I thought the annual visits were dumb at first too, but then I realized it's one of the only places an mis-treated/harassed employee could speak openly and get help.

    It's like everything else in France - what may seem ridiculous to us as foreigners usually actually has a really good explanation behind it - you just have to take the time to figure out what that reasoning is!