Vol. 14 No. 1 (2021): Year of the Nurse

International Medical Graduates - Asset or Liability? An Australian Perspective

Shailja Chaturvedi BSc, MBBS, FRANZCP
Australian Indian Medical Association, Penrith, NSW, Australia
capt Tom Moore by Aria

Published 2020-12-27


  • International medical graduates,
  • brain drain,
  • medical migration

How to Cite

Chaturvedi, S. (2020). International Medical Graduates - Asset or Liability? An Australian Perspective. Sushruta Journal of Health Policy & Opinion, 14(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.38192/14.1.7


One of the gains of globalisation is its osmotic effect of equalisation motivating all the countries to reach their potential. Human resource especially, medical manpower, determines the health of the nation. Developing countries are becoming increasingly aware, of using their scarce resources to train a doctor, only to lose it to the Western world. The article highlights the exploitation, and possible wastage of highly qualified medical workforce who, are accommodated to suit the needs of the host country irrespective of their previous qualifications and experience. The article also makes suggestions to recover and retain the talents of the country.


  1. Nair M, Webster P. Health professionals’ migration in emerging market economies: patterns, causes and possible solutions. J Public Health. 2013 Mar 1;35(1):157–63.
  2. Training program accreditation | RANZCP [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.ranzcp.org/pre-fellowship/training-program-accreditation
  3. Pang T, Lansang MA, Haines A. Brain drain and health professionals: A global problem needs global solutions. BMJ. 2002 Mar 2;324(7336):499–500.
  4. Holt TA, Adams TJ. Medical Colonialism. J Med Ethics. 1987 Jun 1;13(2):102–102.
  5. Lydall R. NHS in Aussie doctor recruitment drive with £18k ‘golden handshakes’ [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/nhs-in-australian-doctor-recruitment-drive-with-ps18-500-golden-handshakes-a3953531.html
  6. Buchan J. International recruitment of health professionals. BMJ. 2005 Jan 27;330(7485):210.
  7. Dodani S, LaPorte RE. Brain Drain from Developing Countries: How can Brain Drain be Converted into Wisdom Gain? J R Soc Med. 2005 Nov 1;98(11):487–91.
  8. Motives for migration of South African doctors to Australia since 1948 - Arnold - 2010 - Medical Journal of Australia - Wiley Online Library [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03511.x
  9. The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain | NEJM [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa050004
  10. IMGs and Global Migration of Physicians: Fairness, Equity, and Justice [Internet]. Medscape. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/581814
  11. Managing medical migration from poor countries | The BMJ [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/331/7507/43
  12. Australia’s health 2018, Chapter highlights - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/chapter-highlights
  13. NHMRC Strategic Plan for 2010-2012 | NHMRC [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/nhmrc-strategic-plan-2010-2012
  14. Shivakumar K, Pujar V. Work Life Balance in the Health Care Sector. 2018 Apr.
  15. Anonymous. National competent authorities (human) [Internet]. European Medicines Agency. 2018 [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/partners-networks/eu-partners/eu-member-states/national-competent-authorities-human
  16. Elkin KJ, Studdert DM. Restricted career paths for overseas students graduating from Australian medical schools: legal and policy considerations. Med J Aust. 2010 May 3;192(9):517–9.
  17. Srivastava R. A Bridge to Nowhere — The Troubled Trek of Foreign Medical Graduates. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jan 17;358(3):216–9.
  18. Disciplinary action against physicians: Who is likely to get disciplined? - The American Journal of Medicine [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(05)00150-6/fulltext
  19. Risks of complaints and adverse disciplinary findings against international medical graduates in Victoria and Western Australia | The Medical Journal of Australia [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/197/8/risks-complaints-and-adverse-disciplinary-findings-against-international-medical
  20. Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Australian Health Workforce Officials’ Committee. Report to Australian health ministers: review of Australian specialist medical colleges. 2005.
  21. General-Information-for-AMC-Member-Nominees-1.pdf [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.amc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/General-Information-for-AMC-Member-Nominees-1.pdf
  22. Medical Board of Australia - Standard pathway [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Registration/International-Medical-Graduates/Standard-Pathway.aspx
  23. Medical Board of Australia - Australian and NZ medical graduates with overseas specialist qualifications [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Registration/International-Medical-Graduates/medical-graduate-with-overseas.aspx
  24. Vaughan B, Sullivan V, Gosling C, McLaughlin P, Fryer G, Wolff M, et al. Assessing fitness-to-practice of overseas-trained health practitioners by Australian registration & accreditation bodies. BMC Med Educ. 2012 Sep 29;12(1):91.
  25. Zubaran C, Douglas S. Peers or pariahs? The quest for fairer conditions for international medical graduates in Australia. Med J Aust. 2014 Nov;201(9):509–10.
  26. corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House C. House of Representatives Committees [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=haa/overseasdoctors/report.htm
  27. RACGP - 10 year moratorium for international medical graduates [Internet]. [cited 2020 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.racgp.org.au/advocacy/position-statements/view-all-position-statements/health-systems-and-environmental/10-year-moratorium
  28. Sondergaard S. Impeding the supply of expertise in Australian health care: actions of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. Med J Aust. 2008 Oct 20;189(8):460–2.
  29. Scott ML, Whelan A, Dewdney J, Zwi AB. “Brain drain” or ethical recruitment? Med J Aust. 2004 Feb 16;180(4):174–6.