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

Experience of clinical supervisors of international medical graduates in an Australian district hospital

David Henderson A D , Pam D. McGrath B and Mary Anne Patton C

A Griffith University, School of Human Services and Social Work, Meadowbrook, PO Box 180, Clayfield, Qld 4011, Australia.

B Centre for Community Science, Population & Social Health Program, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Level 1, LO5 Logan Campus, Meadowbrook, Qld 4131, Australia. Email: pmcgrathgu@gmail.com

C School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia. Email: patton@onlinestrategy.com.au

D Corresponding author. Email: drfh12@gmail.com

Australian Health Review - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH15094
Submitted: 27 May 2015  Accepted: 28 June 2016   Published online: 2 September 2016

Abstract

Objective Herein we record the experience of clinical supervisors of international medical graduates (IMGs) working as junior staff in a district hospital by examining supervisor perspectives on IMG performance, the factors affecting their performance and the requirements of supervision under these circumstances.

Methods The present study had an open-ended exploratory qualitative design. Thirteen 13 open-ended, in-depth interviews were undertaken with supervisors of IMGs employed in a public district hospital in Queensland, Australia.

Results The supervisors reported that, although performance was an individual and variable characteristic, IMGs tended to perform less well than Australian graduates and required more intensive supervision. Factors that affected performance were motivation and experience, and specifically lack of familiarity with the Australian healthcare system, lack of recent of practice, education, language, communication and cultural factors. English language proficiency was regarded as crucial to performance.

Conclusions The additional work required to supervise IMGs in order to enable them to perform at a satisfactory level and successfully integrate into the Australian healthcare system needs to be recognised and resourced. Assistance with attaining proficiency in English and with communication skills over and above the standard required to pass the International English Language Testing System examination should be seriously considered as a means of improving performance.

What is known about the topic? To date, there is little research available about the experience of supervisors of IMGs in Australia.

What does this paper add? The findings of the present study make an important contribution to the literature by examining the critical role clinical supervisors of IMGs have in helping IMGs adapt to the Australian healthcare system and ensuring that they are able to provide quality health care. It identifies current challenges and highlights areas in need of attention to ensure a strong healthcare system for Australia.

What are the implications for practitioners? Supervisors of IMGs need recognition of the extra time and expertise required in their role if they are to be effectively supported in their endeavours to integrate IMGs into the Australian health workforce. More attention needs to be given to the development of English language proficiency of IMGs, including colloquial usage, and communication in medical practice.


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