Medical educators working abroad: Who are they? (Published 2015)
Apr 06, 2016
Michelle McLean, Ana Da Silva, Judy McKimm and Stella Major
Little is known about medical educators who choose to work and live abroad. The survey explores mobility among medical educators and reveals a highly qualified multicultural workforce with a rich history of international study and work.
Background: Medical education is an international activity. As students and educators travel across the globe to study and teach, both medical student populations and academic staff profiles are becoming increasingly multinational. Little is, however, known about medical educators who chose to work and live abroad.
Methods: Following a pilot study in the Middle East, an online survey was adapted for an international audience. In addition to demographic data, information was collected about international medical educators’ countries of birth, where they had studied, their work history as well as their roles and responsibilities as medical educators.
Results: The survey, completed by 89 participants (58% men), revealed a highly qualified, largely medical, multicultural workforce with a rich history of international study and work. Their ‘home’ country was often one adopted later in life, rather being where they were born. This may explain why many defined themselves as Westerners and global citizens rather than nationals of a single country. Europe and North America lost the most educators, with Australia and New Zealand gaining. Although many were in academia, their roles and responsibilities were diverse, revealing the multiple layers of their professional careers. Based on historical academic positions, there appears to be a trend of being a local teacher to being an international teacher of local or international students.
Conclusions: Medical educators are globally mobile, working across the world in academia and as consultants. Their studies and their work in different parts of the world make many of them global citizens for whom ‘home’ is a country different from where they were born.
This is a very important paper to read to anyone travelling or considering travelling and working abroad. With the world of medical education becoming smaller, more faculty are considering a move to another country; a move not always as easy as it may sound. The more information that we can collect that adds to out knowledge in this area, I consider, the better.
Excellent paper that gives insight into medical educators "internationalisation". Apart from the in the paper described mobility for academic reasons, social responsibility and job opportunities, I would strongly think that as follow up of papers coming after this one would within the Human Resources for Health discussion be finding the different 'pull' and 'push' factors for not only health care providers (as is being discussed all over the world at the moment), but also specifically for medical educators. As for example lack of instruments and materials is listed as one of the reasons for physicians to leave one country, what are the most important reasons for educators, and how can we prevent brain drain as well as lack of human resources for health in certain areas of the world. Although the number of respondents from for example Africa and the Middle east are relatively low, it's shocking to see that 0 of them stayed within their region of origin, I'm very curious to know what the outcome would be on a larger scale. Or, looking at Europe itself, to see the difference between Eastern Europe and the rest of the region, as there's been a major HRH crises in several of the eastern european countries, I believe there would be some interesting sub-results in that area as well.
All in all, thank you for the article!
A really interesting and useful paper. Thanks very much.
Deborah Murdoch Eaton
again of interest to the medical education community, many of whom travel widely. I was interested in the gender distribution of respondents and wonder if this was representative of the community of medical educators?
This is a very interesting paper stimulating to ask consecutive research questions and inspiring the reader’s self-reflection on own professional pathways and definitions of homeland.
I will be really happy to read the second, qualitative part of this research report as some of the already asked questions would definitely benefit from adding more individual insight. It would be perfect to further analyse the intersecting factors, including the initial socio-economic status of the educator and of the country of primary residence, as well as the dimension of the individual word view vs. the political and human rights situation of the country of origin and of destination. It would be interesting to analyse not only what are the reasons behind choosing the new location but also what are the factors stimulating to leave the homeland. Furthermore, another question is “what makes the educator to accept or to reject the new job opportunity?”, e.g. the financial incentives vs. human rights violations conflicting with the own set of values. Obviously, taking into account the other intersecting factors like gender, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation would make the future analysis even more complex but also more interesting.