A Study of Immigrant International Medical Graduates’ Re-Licensing in Ontario: Their Experiences, Reflections, and Recommendations
This study is about the lived re-licensing experiences of immigrant international physicians in Ontario who are commonly referred to as International Medical Graduates (IMGs). The study had a two-fold purpose, the first purpose was to investigate whether the conclusions of the previous research were still relevant at the time of this study, and the second purpose was to examine the re-licensing experiences of a specific subset of Immigrant IMGs. A comprehensive systematic review identified 12 selected papers on IMG issues (2008 - 2017), and these research papers highlighted that some Immigrant IMGs were successful in becoming re-licensed and working as physicians in Ontario. However, many of them had to make unpalatable choices such as transitioning into other health-related careers, accepting entry-level jobs or returning to their home country due to the systemic and financial barriers, and the lack of training opportunities and residency positions. This study used mixed methods design with two research instruments (survey and individual interviews), two theoretical frameworks (Self-Determination Theory and Transformative Learning Theory), two sampling methods (purposeful sampling and snowball sampling), and two samples of Immigrant IMGs for two research purposes. The 31 participants in the survey were a sample of the heterogeneous Immigrant IMG population in Ontario whereas the four interview participants were a sample of subset Immigrant IMG population in Ontario who had not been researched in the previous literature. The findings of this research verified that the barriers documented in the previous empirical literature still exist. The qualitative component of this research revealed some additional barriers. The interview participants' perceptions of how the embedded systemic barriers disadvantaged them and set them up for failure added new information to the research. Based on the participants’ experiences, reflections and recommendations presented in this research, it seems that the current re-licensing system should undergo a fairness review in the light of Canadian/Ontarian policies of equality, inclusion and human rights to help Immigrant IMGs survive and thrive.