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Clin Teach. 2018 Aug;15(4):298-303. doi: 10.1111/tct.12670. Epub 2017 May 9.

The educational impact of experience overseas.

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Department of Haematology, University College London, UK.
Health Education North West, Manchester, UK.
Medical School, University of Manchester, UK.



Health care professionals are increasingly seeking overseas experience as part of their training. In the UK and Ireland, spending time overseas is becoming increasingly common during the first few years of training, with 10.8 per cent of Foundation Year-2 (Postgraduate Year-2) doctors working outside the UK in 2015. Although we know that doctors in training are increasingly seeking overseas experience, the reasons behind this are unknown. Many travel with the intention of returning after a period of time. With medical 'gap years' becoming common, there is a need to understand the reasons behind this phenomenon and what doctors take away from their overseas experience.


We interviewed 20 British and Irish doctors in training who had spent time working in another high-income country before choosing to return home. A qualitative study was conducted to explore their experiences and what they learned from them.


Doctors in training reported choosing to travel overseas to experience living abroad, take a break from training and to help them decide on their specialty choice. Participants reported a positive experience, with increased motivation, a greater sense of perspective, increased confidence, improved clinical skills and a better-informed decision on which specialty they wished to pursue. Doctors in training are increasingly seeking overseas experience, the reasons behind this are unknown DISCUSSION: Working overseas can be a positive educational experience for doctors in training. Although increasing numbers of doctors are choosing to work abroad, many wish to return to their countries of origin to complete training, and doctors should not be discouraged from undertaking additional experience overseas.


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