An empirical investigation into the integration of foreign doctors into the public health case system of the Northern Cape in South Africa

Surtie, Adin Don (2013-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.


The South African Northern Cape Department of Health has many challenges to overcome in order to provide the province with quality public health care. One of these challenges is the recruitment and retention of foreign doctors in order to maintain and improve on the population’s access to physicians. Due to the lack of locally trained physicians willing to work and settle in the Northern Cape Province, the Department of Health in the province have been employing foreign-trained physicians to fill the gap in providing adequate medical care to its population. This study examined how well foreign doctors have integrated into the Northern Cape public health care system. It further identified, described and explored the factors that might influence the integration of these foreign physicians. This was done in order to make recommendations to improve the existing retention strategies of the Northern Cape Department of Health. This research utilised the mixed-method of research by obtaining secondary qualitative as well as primary quantitative data. The qualitative data were obtained through a literature review. Questionnaires informed by the literature review were utilised in order to obtain the primary quantitative data. The data obtained were subjected to a statistical analysis.The results indicated that the needs of the foreign doctors were generally met and the factors pertaining to work, community and family aspects of integration did not have an overtly negative or positive influence on integration. The results pertaining to rurality were not as prominent as expected. The main factors identified related to relational (professional as well as personal) factors. The researcher concluded that relational factors contributed the most as they had an influence on all the categories of possible factors that might influence integration. This finding stressed that the social phenomena that influence integration should not be overlooked. The implementation of interventions to improve integration and retention should be accompanied by a detailed examination of the factors that affect the recruitment, integration and retention of the workforce in a country/region. This research could be an important step towards achieving this goal for the Northern Cape Department of Health.

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