International medical graduates (IMGs) now comprise a significant
part of the Australian workforce. However, their perspective on
strategies to facilitate their effective integration into the Australian
health care system have not been adequately explored. This article
presents the findings from qualitative research that explored IMGs
experience before, during, and after their involvement in the observer
program, a hospital based pre-employment program for IMGs
conducted in the Department of Medicine at the Redland Hospital,
An iterative, qualitative research methodology was utilised, using
open ended interviews with IMGs about their experience and
involvement with the observer program. The interviews were
transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.
The participants asserted that, due to the Australian need for IMGs, it
is in Australia’s interests to ensure an effective and efficient process
for the integration of IMGs. Strategies they believed would improve
this process included providing information to IMGs before departure
from their country of origin, improving website information, providing
more support for bridging courses, funding more observer programs,
providing an IMG liaison officer at hospitals, reducing the difficulties
associated with passing the Australian Medical Council examination,
providing support for IMGs’ families, and relaxing the rules about
when and where IMGs can practise medicine.
The participants’ perspectives on desirable changes to the Australian
system that would facilitate IMGs’ integration are presented. It is
stressed that these findings represent the perspectives of IMGs only,
and that any and all changes to the process of integration of IMGs
must have as a primary benchmark the aim of ensuring that the highest
quality of medical care is provided to the Australian population.
In recent decades there has been an increase in the mobility of populations that has resulted in considerable numbers of physicians choosing to work in countries other than those in which they trained.1 In Australia, the term ‘international medical graduate’ (IM G) is used to refer to physicians who have obtained their primary medical qualification elsewhere.2,3 In the Australian health care system the majority of IM Gs are employed in general practice.2
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