Immigrant medical practitioners’ experience of seeking New Zealand registration: a participatory study
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This qualitative modified participatory study underpinned by social critical theory explored the experiences of immigrant medical practitioners seeking registration in New Zealand. The occupational science notions of occupation, occupational deprivation and occupational apartheid were used to understand the experiences of the participants. The objective of the study was to understand the experiences of the participants and facilitate their self-empowerment through facilitated dialogue, affording them opportunities for collective action. Data was obtained through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with eighteen immigrant medical practitioners who were doctors and dentists as well as two physiotherapists. The two physiotherapists were sampled out of necessity to explore diversity in findings. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. This method included the processes of coding data into themes and then collapsing themes into major themes which were organised under categories. Four categories were created in the findings describing the experiences of immigrant practitioners and suggesting solutions. Firstly; findings revealed that immigrant medical practitioners had a potential worth being utilised in New Zealand. Secondly; it was found that these participants faced negative and disabling experiences in the process of being registered. Thirdly; the emotional consequences of the negative experiences were described in the study. Fourthly; there were collectively suggested solutions where the participants felt that their problems could be alleviated by support systems modelled in other Western English speaking countries that have hosted high numbers of immigrant medical practitioners from non-English speaking countries. This collective action was consistent with the emancipatory intent of participatory research informed by social critical theory. This study resulted in drawing conclusions about the implications of the participants’ experiences to well-being, occupational satisfaction as well as diverse workforce development initiatives. This study is also significant in policy making as it spelt out the specific problems faced by participants and made recommendations on what can be done to effectively utilise and benefit from the skills of immigrant medical practitioners. A multi-agency approach involving key stakeholders from the government departments, regulatory authorities, medical schools and immigrant practitioners themselves is suggested as a possible approach to solving the problems faced by these practitioners.