Experiences of Overseas Trained Physical Therapists Working in Saudi Arabia: An Observational Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 13;17(10):3406. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103406.


Background: Health professionals, including physical therapists (PTs), are known to migrate for better jobs, as well as for personal and professional development. However, this involves risks of maladjustment, discrimination, and exploitation. We conducted this study to investigate the experiences of overseas trained PTs in Saudi Arabia (SA) and their perceptions about physical therapy practice and problems regarding the profession in the country. Methods: A questionnaire and accompanying explanation of the study was sent to 175 members of the Saudi Physical Therapy Association (SPTA) working in SA who had been trained outside SA and had a minimum of one year of work experience before moving to SA. Results: One hundred and fifty (86%) respondents completed the questionnaire. Among the respondents, the majority had more than five years of work experience after moving to SA. While 54% of the respondents reported that they were satisfied with their work experiences in SA, the remaining respondents reported their dissatisfaction for various reasons. Conclusions: With the increase in aged population and rise in disability, the need for PTs has simultaneously increased in the health care sector around the world, including in SA. Until PTs of local origin are ready to fill the requirements, the services of PTs from other countries will be required in SA. Although the majority of respondents reported having positive work experiences in SA, the negative aspects and challenges faced by PTs in SA have also been highlighted in this study. These problems need to be addressed in order to promote the development of a better and more holistic approach to patient care.

Keywords: Saudi Arabia; experiences; health care; migration; physical therapists.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Foreign Medical Graduates*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires