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Social capital among migrating doctors: the 'Bridge' over troubled water

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 02:46 authored by Terry, DR, Le, Q

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of social capital among International Medical Graduates (IMGs). It will specifically examine bridging social capital and greater intercultural communication which provides IMGs access to the wider community and plays a key role in cross-cultural adaptation and acculturation.

Design/methodology/approach: A review of the literature.

Findings: An Australian wide shortage of doctors has led to an increased reliance on the recruitment of IMGs. As IMGs migrate, they may encounter different meanings of illness, models of care and a number of social challenges. Nevertheless, greater cross-cultural adaptation and acculturation occurs through bridging social capital, where intercultural communication, new social networks and identity aids integration. This process produces more opportunities for economic capital growth and upward mobility than bonding social capital.

Practical implications: Concerns regarding immigration, appropriate support and on-going examination processes have been expressed by IMGs in a number of studies and policy papers. However, there is very little insight into what contributes cross-cultural adaptation of IMGs.

Originality/value: As IMGs migrate to not only a new country, but also a new health system and workplace they arrive with different cultural meanings of illness and models of care. These differences may be in contrast to the dominant western medical model, but often bring positive contributions to patient care in the new environment. In addition, improving bridging social capital provides IMGs access to the wider community and has been demonstrated to play a key role in cross-cultural adaptation and ultimately acculturation.


Publication title

Journal of Health Organization and management








School of Health Sciences


Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Place of publication

Bingley, UK

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Evaluation of health and support services not elsewhere classified

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