International medical graduates in Australia: a historical perspective (1930–1950s)

Daniel R Terry, Jessica J Woodroffe, Quynh Le and Kathryn J Ogden
Med J Aust 2012; 197 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11317
Published online: 16 July 2012

The postwar arrival of refugee doctors heralded changes to the Australian health workforce that we are still adjusting to today

International medical graduates (IMGs) are an important part of Australia’s health workforce, accounting for about 23.5% (n = 16 186) of all doctors in Australia today.1 The recruitment and placement of IMGs in rural areas is particularly vital to the provision of health services in rural Australia, where there has been a shortage of health professionals for some time.1-6 Over one-quarter of Australia’s population are born overseas, and the arrival of refugee doctors has been observed as providing one of the “most poignant chapters of Australia’s great immigration experiment”,7 yet it is not well documented. We have drawn on historical archives and media articles to outline key issues associated with the arrival of refugee doctors, highlight improvements in the IMG experience and describe the key issues that continue to influence the experience of Australian IMGs.

  • Daniel R Terry1
  • Jessica J Woodroffe1
  • Quynh Le1
  • Kathryn J Ogden2

  • 1 Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS.
  • 2 Launceston Clinical School, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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