Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

International medical graduates’ reflections on facilitators and barriers to undertaking the Australian Medical Council examination

Pam McGrath A E , Saras Henderson B , Hamish A. Holewa C , David Henderson A and John Tamargo D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Population and Social Health Research Program, Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD 4131, Australia.

B Population and Social Health Research Program, Griffith Health Institute, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia.

C Health Collaborative Research Networks Program Manager, CQUniversity Health CRN, CQUniversity, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia.

D Redland Hospital, Weippen Street, Cleveland, QLD 4163, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: p.mcgrath@griffith.edu.au

Australian Health Review 36(3) 296-300 https://doi.org/10.1071/AH11082
Submitted: 31 August 2011  Accepted: 12 February 2012   Published: 27 July 2012

Abstract

Objective. In Australia, 25% of international medical graduates (IMGs) make up the medical workforce. Concern is expressed in the literature about the lack of awareness and knowledge of issues that impinge on IMGs’ education. Although there is literature alluding to difficulties IMGs face with undertaking the Australian Medical Council (AMC) examination, there is little research detailing this experience. We therefore explored IMGs’ reflections on facilitators and barriers in undertaking the AMC examination.

Methods. After ethics approval, in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 30 IMGs selected from a hospital in Queensland. Data were coded and analysed using thematic analysis principles.

Results. Two facilitating themes were identified: ability to sit for the first part of the examination in country of origin; and having access to resources such as bridging courses and study groups. Three themes represented barriers: not understanding procedural steps; financial issues; and lack of information on examination content and standards.

Conclusion. The themes provide new insights and add depth to existing literature that can be used to improve procedural processes and education for IMGs towards successful outcomes in the AMC examination.

What is known about the topic? There is concern expressed in the literature about the lack of awareness and knowledge of issues that impinge on IMGs education. The Australian work that is available only depicts educational experience of fellowships or education and training strategies after IMGs have passed their AMC examination.

What does this paper add? The findings indicate that the process of sitting for the AMC examination is perceived as one of the major difficulties associated with entering and integrating into the Australian health system. The findings indicate a range of practical, financial and resource problems faced by IMGs attempting to sit for the AMC examination.

What are the implications for practitioners? The detailed accounts from IMGs about their experience with undertaking the AMC examination will provide up-skilling program coordinators with the information they need to better assist IMGs to prepare for the examination. The provision of appropriate medical training and educational support will contribute to more effective integration of IMGs into the healthcare system.

Additional keywords: education, qualitative research.


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