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Recent Trends in International Migration of Doctors, Nurses and Medical Students

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This report describes recent trends in the international migration of doctors and nurses in OECD countries. Over the past decade, the number of doctors and nurses has increased in many OECD countries, and foreign-born and foreign-trained doctors and nurses have contributed to a significant extent. New in-depth analysis of the internationalisation of medical education shows that in some countries (e.g. Israel, Norway, Sweden and the United States) a large and growing number of foreign-trained doctors are people born in these countries who obtained their first medical degree abroad before coming back. The report includes four case studies on the internationalisation of medical education in Europe (France, Ireland, Poland and Romania) as well as a case study on the integration of foreign-trained doctors in Canada.

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Recent trends in internationalisation of medical education

The number of international students pursuing medical education away from their home country has increased significantly over the past decade, with some countries becoming popular destinations. For example, around half of all medical students in Ireland, nearly a third in Romania and a quarter in Poland are international students. This mobility of students is driven by demand and supply factors, including admission limits in medicine in the home countries of these students and active recruitment strategies of some medical schools. The mobility has been supported by the mutual recognition of qualifications, particularly across EU member states. Most international students from OECD countries studying medicine abroad intend to return to their home country to complete their postgraduate training and work as doctors. While most students from countries like Israel, Norway, Sweden, and France are able to do this, this is not the case for many students from countries like Canada or the United States who are facing a bottleneck when they wish to return to their home country, as the number of training/residency posts is significantly lower than the number of applicants. This raises the risks of a waste in human capital if these new international medical graduates are not able to complete their training.

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