Overseas trained doctors in rural and remote Australia: do they practise differently from Australian trained doctors?

Overseas trained doctors in rural and remote Australia: do they practise differently from Australian trained doctors? Thesis

School of Population Health and Clinical Practice

  • Author(s): Laurence, Caroline Olivia May
  • Published: 2007
  • Publisher: University of Adelaide
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: Over the last seven years the recruitment of overseas trained doctors (OTDs) has formed a significant part of Australia’s policy to address the medical workforce issue of geographic maldistribution to ensure that communities in rural and remote Australia have access to adequate general practice (GP) services. This policy has not been without problems, particularly in the areas of assessment of skills and qualifications, appropriate orientation and integration into Australian communities, and retention of these doctors within rural and remote communities. To date there has been little evidence-based research on the role of OTDs in the medical workforce in Australia. This study explores the service provision and quality of care provided by OTDs using the 5 Year OTD Scheme as the case study. In doing so, it assesses the adequacy of this strategy and discusses the implications for future workforce policies and programs. A mixed method design was used in the study. The quantitative component involved secondary analysis of Medicare Australia data for all OTDs participating in the 5 Year OTD Scheme in 2002 and all Australian trained doctors (ATDs) practising in rural and remote Australia in the same year. A log Poisson regression model was used to assess the interactive effect of the various GP characteristics, such as age, sex, experience and practice location with OTD/ATD status on the rate of a particular service item per patient, adjusted for patient age and sex. The qualitative component involved two focus groups with OTDs which were used to help explain the relationships between variables found in the quantitative component of the study. Template analysis was used to identify themes from the focus group. Significantly different rates per patient between OTDs and ATDS were found across most service items and GP characteristics examined. The greatest variation was found among items relating to in-surgery consultations and non-surgery consultations such as nursing home visits. Fewer differences were found between groups relating to pathology, imaging or procedural services. Analysis of surrogate quality items identified few differences between OTDs and ATDs. The focus group identified a number of other factors that influenced their patterns of service and accounted for some of the differences identified in the quantitative analysis. These factors included knowledge of the health care system in Australia, cultural and communication influences, health conditions of patients, patient and community attitudes, remuneration influences and training influences. These had varying degrees of influence on their patterns of service. The reasons for the differences found between OTDs and ATDs are partially explained by the characteristics of the GPs examined and partially explained by other external influences that relate to the particular circumstances of the OTDs, such as knowledge of the Australian health care system and cultural and communication issues. Understanding the nature of practice is central to ensuring appropriate professional support measures. The study findings highlight the need for a targeted training program for OTDs that address the areas that have the greatest influence on patterns of service to ensure that rural and remote communities receive the same quality of service from OTDs as provided by ATDs.

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Suggested Citation
Laurence, Caroline Olivia May, 2007, Overseas trained doctors in rural and remote Australia: do they practise differently from Australian trained doctors?, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 28 November 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=11054.

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