Govt ‘should pay’ for IMG orientation
LEADING professional bodies have called on the Federal Government to fund a national orientation program for international medical graduates (IMGs), arguing it would improve doctor-patient relationships and GP retention in areas of need.
At present, the responsibility for IMG orientation falls with individual employers and local divisions of general practice. Many divisions have developed orientation programs relevant to the local area, and AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic believes these could be used as a basis for a national resource.
“Divisions are doing this work nationally, but responding to local needs. However, there need to be [national] structures in place,” he said. “Good orientation and support means that IMGs are more likely to remain in Australia and often in the locations of workforce shortage.”
Such programs would become more important as the number of IMGs increased, he added.
According to the Federal Health Department, the number of IMGs working in rural and remote Australia more than doubled from 1300 in 1995/96 to almost 2800 in 2006/07.
Orientation should begin before doctors even reached our shores, said Australian Association of Medical Recruitment Agents president Ron Crause.
RDAA CEO Steve Sant agreed more resources were needed to ensure IMGs settled in quickly.