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Assisting with the transition – settling in

Many countries, including Australia use numerous approaches to address health workforce shortages.

Many countries, including Australia use a number of approaches to address health workforce shortages.

According to the the Australian Medical Association, international medical graduates in Australia, currently comprise 40% of the doctors working in rural and remote locations. (Australian Medical Association).

Doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners from Canada, India, United Kingdom and New Zealand (just to name a few) come to settle and work in urban and rural locations in Australia. International health workers migrate to countries, like Australia, to develop further skills, maximise their earning capacity with in demand qualifications, or for lifestyle, educational opportunities and family reasons.

Registration and credentialing systems

Australia uses a credentialling and registration process to ensure the integrity of their health workforce. According to the Collins Dictionary, credentials are the ‘previous achievements, training, and general background, which indicate that they are qualified to do something’. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or AHPRA is an example of a body that coordinates, regulates and facilitates a globally mobile health workforce.

Nurses, pharmacists, doctors and other allied health professionals working in Australia are registered. They are not able to deliver services unless their qualifications and experience meets required standards. Each professional body is responsible for setting, testing and confirming the requirements needed to practice.

How can we help globally mobile workers settle in?

It can be difficult moving to a new country to work. Relocation involves experiencing new customs and cultures and this can be unsettling for health workers and their families. Making health workers feel welcome, providing them with access to training that might be needed and to connect the worker and their families with social activities, sport and the community will assist with their settling in.

Good practices for helping international health workers to settle into a community or organisation might be to :

  • ensure that the new worker attends an orientation to the health care organisation and culture/language. In Australia, for example we speak English but there are lots of local phrases, customs and cultural idiosyncracies that workers should be introduced to so that they attain competency and an understanding of cultural issues.
  • support the family to find schools and accommodation
  • provide information on public transport
  • provide a tour of the organisation and/or city/region where possible for the worker and family
  • use a checklist to ensure all settling activities are attended to
  • try and make sure that the new worker and their family is connected to community organisations and provide opportunities for social engagement
  • consider a peer, buddy or mentoring system
  • put in place appropriate and timely training or educational supports

Your task

Do you have international health workers in your country? What are some other ways that you can think of to help international health workers settle in?


AMA Position Statement – Rural Workforce Initiatives (2018). Retrieved from:

Bahn, S. (2014). Migrant workers on temporary 457 visas working in Australia: implications for human resource management.. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 01/2014, 52 (1).

© Griffith University
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