GP says it’s almost impossible for IMGs to pass medical board’s clinical exam

One rural based GP is finding it almost impossible to recruit doctors to his outback practice, but it is not for a lack of applicants. 

Dr Michael Mbaogu is finding it almost impossible to recruit doctors to his outback practice, but it is not for a lack of applicants. 

Five doctors have recently left his practice at Mt Isa in western Queensland, leaving just three GPs at the clinic amid the town’s worsening doctor shortage.

Dr Mbaogu says he regularly receives job applications from overseas trained doctors. The problem is that none can pass the Pre-Employment Structured Clinical Interview (PESCI), which is mandatory to practise, even under supervision. 

Dr Mbaogu says he is fed up with such a high failure rate among doctors who may have 15-20 years’ experience in their country of origin. 

“In the last six years or so it’s been almost impossible for overseas trained graduates to pass that exam,” Dr Mbaogu tells 6minutes

“We don’t even know the pass rate for that PESCI interview but it’s probably less than 10% and that is ridiculous.

“It begs the question — what is going on? Are these candidates dumber now than they were seven years ago? What has changed? 

“Why is it that pass rates are so low, especially when communities like mine and others across Queensland are very short on doctors?” 

The PESCI assessment typically lasts 60-90 minutes and costs around $3,000 a go.

It involves a panel of experienced GPs reviewing the IMG’s resume, followed by a role-play or discussion around five potential clinical scenarios. 

The RACGP, ACRRM, or private provider the Institute of Medical Education, conducts the assessment, which is mandatory for IMGs who have already completed an Australian Medical Council Multi Choice Questionnaire.

In 2019/20, the overall fail rate was 70%, according to figures obtained by AusDoc.

Dr Mbaogu said Mt Isa now had fewer than seven GPs for a population of at least 20,000, having lost an estimated 10 GPs in the last few years. 

Waiting lists at his clinic were three weeks and he was starting to double-book himself to review patients. 

He said the long-term fix was to train more doctors — and encourage them into general practice — but the short-term fix was to get more IMGs practising. 

“We need the overseas doctors. They are actually the ones plugging the gap, and coming into rural remote communities like mine,” Dr Mbaogu said.

Dr Mbaogu is a UK-trained doctor himself, having been in Mt Isa for 11 years, following rural practice in WA and Canada. 

“I love it here. But I still want quality of life with it. I don’t want to be too stressed and it’s getting to that point now where the work is inundating.”

First publised on AusDoc. Is it impossible for IMGs to pass medical board’s clinical exam?

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