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Journal of Global Mobility

Eimear Nolan, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Xiaoning Liang, Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

The World Health Organization estimates that by 2035 there will be a global shortage of close to 13 million medical doctors. Over the last decade, Ireland has experienced a major shortfall in the number of homegrown doctors available to service its health care sector. As a result, close to half of the doctors working in Irish hospitals are self-initiated expatriates (SIE) coming predominately from outside the EU. Within this study, SIE medical doctors are defined as highly qualified individuals who self-initiate their own relocation to the host culture for a temporary stay, with the purpose of regular employment.

SIE medical doctors have one of the highest global mobility rates of all professions, yet little is understood about their expatriation process. In order to address this lacuna in research, this study investigates the determinants of cultural adjustment among SIE medical doctors in Ireland. The research investigates if previous determinants of expatriate adjustment are applicable in the context of SIE medical doctors. The research focuses on 8 determinants of expatriate adjustment: age, gender, cultural novelty, marital status, previous international work experience, length of time in the host country, language ability, and perceived fair treatment. The study surveyed 193 non-EU medical doctors working in Irish hospitals to explore if these determinants influenced their cultural adjustment to Ireland. Linear regression analyses were conducted along with qualitative insights from the doctors relating to their cultural adjustment to working and living in Ireland.

The results of this study indicate that of the 8 determinants of adjustment investigated, only gender, language ability and perceived fair treatment were found to influence SIE medical doctors’ cultural adjustment. In particular, female SIE doctors were found to have higher levels of general adjustment to their male counterparts, SIE doctors’ language ability influenced their work adjustment, and SIE doctors’ perceived unfair treatment in the host country (Ireland), decreased their general adjustment.

Such findings highlight the importance of expanding the existent knowledge surrounding SIEs from different occupational groups, as the factors that influenced SIEs medical doctors cultural adjustment in this study differed to that of non-medical SIEs. Additionally, our research notes that SIE medical doctors receive limited organizational support from the host hospitals in terms of their expatriation and cultural adjustment process.

To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:

Nolan, E. and Liang, X. (2022), "Determinants of cross-cultural adjustment among self-initiated expatriate medical doctors working in Ireland", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 289-311.