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International graduate GP trainees ‘need earlier work placements’

International medical graduates feel they would benefit from starting GP placements earlier in their training to help them build up a better understanding of the culture of UK general practice, according to a new study.

The research – published in Education for Primary Care journal – found international medical graduate (IMG) trainees also felt they would benefit from a more individual approach to identifying their learning needs at the start of their training.

The findings come as IMGs continue to experience higher fail rates in the MRCGP exam than UK graduates, specifically the clinical skills assessment part, with the BMA arguing the whole process of training needs to be overhauled to address the disparity.

Dr Christopher Warwick, associate dean for East Surrey and Crawley, conducted focus groups with international medical graduate trainees to explore their views of the challenges they face in GP specialty training.

Dr Warwick wrote: ‘The findings confirmed the central importance, and considerable challenges involved, in making an effective transition into the culture of the NHS and UK general practice.’

He said IMG’s lack of knowledge about the NHS should not be seen as a deficiency, ‘but a clue to what they needed to learn’.

‘IMGs also felt the earlier in their training they undertook a GP placement, the quicker they would start to understand the culture of general practice,’ Dr Warwick concluded.

Education for Primary Care 2014; available online 1 March