Intern Abroad

Working in a hosptial in Saint-Pierre – La Réunion

August 4th, 2023 | by
  • Medicine
  • France, St. Pierre
  • Centre hospitalier universitaire la Reunion
  • 03/2023 – 07/2023

I applied about a year in advance through the e-mail address The application required a CV, a letter of motivation and the certificate of matriculation. Compared to Martinique and Guadeloupe, you get a pretty reliable answer when applying for la Réunion. At first, I only received a confirmation that the application had arrived, and even with more inquiries, I did not receive the final acceptance until the beginning of December. Therefore, perseverance and patience are required. However, the lady in charge, answered all my questions very quickly and reliably. After the acceptance, I still had to send some documents such as a copy of my passport, liability insurance and vaccination certificates. Overall, I found the application process somewhat lengthy but uncomplicated.

© Jana Mattes

Accommodation and living costs
I started looking about 1-2 months in advance. The French and also the Reunionese are still very active on Facebook, which is why I joined various Facebook groups (just enter Colocation Saint-Pierre/ Coloc Réunion or similar on Facebook). Furthermore I searched on Airbnb and leboncoin. Leboncoin is more or less the French Ebay. In the end, I found a small one-bedroom apartment near the central bus station on leboncoin. I also bought a bicycle through leboncoin, which I also highly recommend for the way to the hospital, as traffic is really annoying on the island. The apartment was quite expensive (800 euros/month) and since I got to know two other German students over time, I moved in with both of them after two months. Here it is worth asking around in the hospital if there are doctors who travel for a while and unrent their house. We were lucky and lived the last two months in a large house with a pool 5 minutes walk from the hospital (400 euros/person).
Also, if you want to do something on the weekends, it is worth renting a car. Five of us shared a car for 450 euros a month. There are buses, but these often do not go to the starting points of the hikes and you are much more flexible with the car.
Otherwise, I have found the cost of living is not much more expensive than in Europe. You can get fresh fruit and vegetables very cheaply at the weekly market and free lunch at the hospital.

The internship
My workday began at 8 a.m. in the visceral surgery department. At first, no one really felt responsible for me. A nurse got me work clothes and then I went along on rounds. The rounds were generally kept very short and there was no teaching. After that, I was always sent to the operating room. Since there was only one resident at the time I was there, I was often the first resident in the operating room. Here, questions were always answered nicely and the atmosphere in surgery was very relaxed and less hierarchical compared to Germany. Once or twice I was also allowed to help with suturing, but in Reunion, unlike in Germany, this is often done by the senior physicians themselves.
At noon, I almost always had lunch with the other erasmus-students and since the doctors work relatively long every day (until 18/19h) and do not send you home, I went home at some point usually around 3 or 4 pm.
After 6 weeks in the visceral surgery I changed the department, because I also wanted to see other departments. This was possible without any problems. I then spent 2 weeks in the emergency room. Here I was able to work very independently, examining patients, suturing and writing reports.

© Jana Mattes

The last weeks I was in the orthopedics department together with 3 other erasmus students. Here I often switched between the outpatient clinic and the operating room, the doctors here were really nice and the medical standard was quite high.
Overall, you have to have a high level of personal commitment and show a lot of initiative to learn something, but if they notice that you are interested, it is quite possible to learn a lot. You can also arrange the working hours as you like. The doctors are overall very relaxed and nice, but they don’t really know what to do with foreign students. In addition, they don’t pay much attention to possible language barriers, which is why I only recommend an internship there if you speak a sufficiently high level of french.

Free time
Reunion is an really beautiful island in terms of leisure! For anyone who loves hiking, climbing, nature and outdoor activities, the island will be a paradise. We spent most weekends backpacking and camping in the mountains. Must-dos are of course the volcano, Piton de Neige and Mafate. During the week, we often went to the beach bar on the small beach of Terre Sainte in the evenings. On Sunday evenings there are always free live concerts in Saint Leu, which are worth a visit.

© Jana Mattes

There are always many new people on the island who only stay for 1-2 years, so it is quite easy to meet new people. Also in the hospital we were a group of one Spanish, three Germans and three Swiss. French students were few, because in la Réunion you have to continue studying on the mainland after the 6th semester.
Overall, of course, it was very hot and humid in the first months (March, April), then it cools down considerably in the winter.


Overall, I can recommend a stay on la Réunion to anyone who likes nature and mountains. The landscape there is simply insanely diverse and beautiful. In the hospital you have to be very proactive and stay quite long in the evening if you want to learn something. Otherwise, you can be very flexible with your working time and also take a day off if you want.

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