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Driving factors for Indian doctors to work abroad: Perceptions and Reality (M3 India survey)

M3 India Newsdesk Jun 30, 2018

Here we present the results of the online survey conducted by M3 India, regarding general perceptions attached to working abroad, and draw insights from real-life experiences of Indian doctors who have worked abroad.

UK is the most preferred country of work

We asked the respondents to rank the most coveted foreign countries for work, in order of preference. From a list of 7 countries, UK emerged to be the first preference for most of the respondents, whereas Middle East seemed to be the least popular destination.

Work-Life balance is what most Indian doctors going abroad seek

When asked about what critical attribute drives Indian medics to move overseas for work, the respondents chose work-life balance as the number one reason. Other responses are depicted in the graph below.


Benefits and earnings are the second most important reason for seeking employment abroad

For many Indian doctors, earning more or at least equal to local doctors in a foreign country is an important factor when considering work abroad. We also tried to gauge the respondents’ thoughts on the levels of earnings that would prompt them to consider taking up an overseas job. Here is the summary of the responses gathered.

  • 34% of the doctors responded that they would consider working in the UK or USA only if they would earn more than a fair amount of what average domestic doctors make in the country.
  • 31% respondents said that they would consider working abroad if the salary was the same as the fair compensation received by the average domestic doctors in the country.
  • 16% respondents agreed to work abroad even with lower disposable earnings (i.e. after-tax income minus living cost) than now, as they considered working in the UK or US as a great track record and/or learning opportunity for the future.
  • Only 10% agreed to consider working abroad with lower salaries than the compensation received by domestic doctors in the country, if the disposable earnings (i.e. after-tax income minus living cost) were at least equal to or a little higher than their current earnings.

Real-life experiences of working abroad

Lastly, here is some data from the doctors who had experiences of working abroad, illustrated* in the graph below.

  • The ratio of doctors who had experiences of working abroad was 11%
  • The top 4 countries being: US (4%), UK (4%), EU (other than UK) (4%), Middle East (4%)

According to the previous survey result for willingness to work in the UK, the median maximum period for which doctors would be happy to work in the UK is 40 months (3 years and 4 months). However, the median period for which the doctors have experiences of working in the UK was 12 months (1 year).


Finally, the top reasons of working abroad for those doctors were as follows:

  • Gain experience and knowledge (42%)
  • Get degree or certification (32%)
  • Already have a good referral (21%)
  • Improve earnings (16%) and achieve better quality of life (16%)

This result would imply that the primary reasons for Indian Doctors to look for an overseas job (Work Environment/Work Life Balance (80%), Benefit/Earnings (74%), and Work Hours (43%)) would not necessarily continue being the top reason once they move abroad for work.

To read interesting details about the willingness of Indian doctors to work in the UK, click here.

To read more about which country Indian doctors prefer for working- UK or USA?- click here.

*Though every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided is made, the illustrative necessary conditions expressed in this article are researched by the author as of April 2018, and do not necessarily reflect all the official rules of any related agencies for the doctors to work in the countries, and their changes since April 2018. Examples of the illustrative conditions mentioned within this article are only examples.


Disclaimer: 176 doctors in India participated in this online survey. We have presented the data and facts as they are without generalizing the results as a reflection of the views of entire Indian doctor population. Also, limiting the sample to the Internet channel only may introduce bias in the results. We also urge that the findings should not be interpreted as implying cause and effect.

Only Doctors with an M3 India account can read this article. Sign up for free or login with your existing account.
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