International medical graduates in Australian news: a media narrative analysis

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PURPOSE: The paper aims to analyse how the medical profession, the pro-competition organisation, and the rural community have responded to the rural doctor shortage with reference to international medical graduates (IMGs) as reported in Australian newspapers.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: Utilising the commercially available database LexisNexis during 2003, the author keyed in "overseas trained doctors" and retrieved 641 Australian newspaper articles. The qualitative data analysis software NVivo2 has assisted the author to organise the data, informed by critical realism and narrative analysis.

FINDINGS: While the medical profession is undoubtedly committed to serving the health needs of the Australian public, the medical community is less than united in addressing the rural doctor shortage, especially through the employment of large numbers of IMGs. The handling of IMGs has led to tensions not only between the locally trained and IMGs, but also between rural and non-rural doctors, and between younger and established doctors. The medical professional institutions seemed relatively detached from the adverse consequences of the shortage of doctors in the rural community. This contrasts the efforts demonstrated by the Rural Doctors Association and the rural community.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This paper concludes with a critical realist and narrative analysis and resolving of the rural doctor shortage and recommends close communication and consultation among the diverse interest groups rather than their engaging in blaming one another. This would be an obvious starting point to address the rural doctor shortage, which may partly be achieved by the effective use of services by IMGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-257
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Health Organisation and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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