Combining general practice with international work: online survey of experiences of UK GPs.
Smith C., Pettigrew LM., Seo H-N., Dorward J.
OBJECTIVES: To conduct an exploratory study to learn about the experiences of GPs who have undertaken international work. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey SETTING: Online survey of UK-based GPs. Members of all UK RCGP faculties were invited to participate by email and the survey was publicised on the RCGP website PARTICIPANTS: All UK-based GPs MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Types of UK and international work undertaken, barriers, competencies gained, influence on career and future plans. RESULTS: The study identified 439 respondents, in a variety of GP roles at all career stages, who had undertaken international work in their role as a doctor. GPs are undertaking international work in both high and low/middle-income countries, engaging in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical activities. Respondents reported gaining a range of competencies from international work, which could be transferred back to the UK setting to a variable degree. Commonly cited barriers to international work were having to leave friends and family, and concerns regarding future employment and pension. Most reported that engaging in international work had influenced the direction of their career, with the largest proportion stating that they wish to work predominantly in the UK, with some international work in the future. CONCLUSION: The study highlights the variety of ways in which UK GPs are combining UK general practice and international work, competencies gained with such work, and ability to transfer these back to the UK setting. Historical barriers to international work still exist and future research could further examine the value of such work.