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Original Research

Supporting international medical graduates in rural Australia: a mixed methods evaluation

Submitted: 17 August 2011
Revised: 5 November 2011
Published: 5 January 2012

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Author(s) : Wright A, Regan M, Haigh C, Sunderji I, Vijayakumar P, Smith C, Nestel D.

Irum SunderjiPriyanga VijayakumarCathy SmithDebra Nestel

Citation: Wright A, Regan M, Haigh C, Sunderji I, Vijayakumar P, Smith C, Nestel D.  Supporting international medical graduates in rural Australia: a mixed methods evaluation. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2012; 12: 1897. Available: (Accessed 22 October 2017)


Introduction:  In Australia, international medical graduates (IMGs) make a substantial contribution to rural medical workforces. They often face significant communication, language, professional and cultural barriers, in addition to the other challenges of rural clinical practice. The Gippsland Inspiring Professional Standards among International Experts (GIPSIE) program was designed to provide educational support to IMGs across a large geographical region using innovative educational methods to ultimately build capacity in the provision of rural medical education. GIPSIE offered 5 sessions over 3 months. Simulation-based training was a prominent theme and addressed clinical knowledge, attitudes and skills and included a range of activities (eg procedural skills training with benchtop models, management of the acutely ill patient with SimMan, patient assessment skills with simulated patients). Diverse clinical communication skills were explored (eg teamwork, handover, telephone, critical information). Audiovisual review of performance was enabled through the use of iPod nano devices. GIPSIE was underpinned by a website offering diverse learning resources. Content experts were invited to lead sessions that integrated knowledge and skills reflecting local practice.
Methods:  IMGs were recruited from hospitals (n=15) and general practices (n=2) across the region. It was aimed to evaluate the impact of GIPSIE on the clinical practice of IMG participants. Evaluation measures included pre- and post-program 15 item multisource feedback (MSF), post-program questionnaires and, in order to address retention, telephone interviews exploring participants’ responses 3 months after the program finished.
Results:  Fifteen participants completed GIPSIE and rated the program highly, especially the simulation-based activities with feedback and later audiovisual review on iPods and the GIPSIE website. Suggestions were made to improve several aspects of the program. Participants reported increased knowledge, skills and professionalism after the program. Although overall MSF scores showed no statistically significant changes, there were positive directional changes for the items 'technical skills appropriate to current practice', 'willingness and effectiveness when teaching/training colleagues' and 'communication with carers and family'. These developments were also supported in free-text comments. Learning was reported to be sustained 3 months after the program.
Conclusions:  GIPSIE was highly valued by participants who reported improvements in clinical knowledge and skills. A range of professional issues were raised and addressed. GIPSIE seemed to provide a platform for further development. Although new to many participants, simulation was embraced as an educational method. The relationship between regional clinicians and the medical school was pivotal to success. A feature of the study was tracking improvements in clinical practice as a consequence of participating in the GIPSIE program. Future work needs to focus on further promoting the transfer of learning to the workplace. However the sustainability of these programs requires significant commitment.

Key words: clinical skills, international medical graduates, program evaluation, simulation, training programs.

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