The benefits of working abroad for British General Practice trainee doctors: the London deanery out of programme experience in South Africa
The value of international health experience for doctors from developed nations is well recognised. Provisions have been made for medical staff in the United Kingdom to embark on work experiences abroad during their careers in the National Health Service. The London Deanery and Africa Health Placements provide an Out of Programme Experience for British General Practice trainee doctors wanting to work for a year in rural hospitals in South Africa.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted among fifteen British General Practice trainees who participated in the programme. The research aim was to understand the perceived benefit and value of their experience and their opinions about the structure of the programme. The data was analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: Their experience provided an accelerated year of learning and development that contributed to their professional and personal development. In addition to their general development, their improved ability to work in resource limited settings, enhancement of soft skills, a greater appreciation for the National Health Service and a better understanding of working within foreign health care systems were important gains. The timing of the experience, the security of re-employment on their return, assistance with administrative requirements of destination countries and the opportunity to gain varied, hands-on experience were highly valued components of the
Out of Programme Experience.