Communication skills, cultural challenges and individual support: challenges of international medical graduates in a Canadian healthcare environment

Med Teach. 2004 Mar;26(2):120-5. doi: 10.1080/01421590310001653982.


Physicians require good communication skills to develop effective patient-physician relationships. Externally funded international medical graduates (IMGs) move directly from their home countries to complete residency training at the University of Ottawa, Canada. They must learn quickly how to work with patients, families and colleagues. A detailed needs assessment was designed to assess IMGs' communication skill needs through focus groups, interviews and surveys with IMGs, program directors, allied healthcare professionals and experts in communication skills. There was a high degree of consensus amongst all participants concerning specific educational needs for communication skills and training issues related to the healthcare system for externally funded IMGs. Specific recommendations include (1) English-language skills; (2) how to get things done in the hospital/healthcare system; (3) opportunities to practise specific skills, e.g. negotiating treatment, (4) adequate support system for IMGs; (5) faculty and staff education on the cultural challenges faced by IMGs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Foreign Medical Graduates*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Ontario
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires