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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Brain Drain: Post Graduation Migration Intentions and the influencing factors among Medical Graduates from Lahore, Pakistan

Nazish Imran1*, Zahra Azeem2, Imran I Haider3, Naeem Amjad4 and Muhammad R Bhatti5

Author Affiliations

1 Assistant Professor Child & Family Psychiatry Department. King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital Lahore, Pakistan

2 House Officer, Surgery King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital Lahore, Pakistan

3 Associate Professor. Department of Psychiatry& Behavioral Sciences. Fatima Memorial College of Medicine and Dentistry, Lahore, Pakistan

4 Postgraduate trainee, Department of Psychiatry& Behavioral Sciences King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital Lahore, Pakistan

5 Professor & Chairman Department of Psychiatry& Behavioral Sciences King Edward Medical University/Mayo Hospital Lahore, Pakistan

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:417  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-417

Published: 17 October 2011



The increasing migration of health professionals to affluent countries is not a recent phenomenon and has been addressed in literature. However the various facets of physician migration from Pakistan, the third leading source of International medical graduates has not been rigorously evaluated. The objective of the current study was to survey final year students and recent medical graduates in Lahore, Pakistan about their intentions to train abroad, their post training plans as well as to identify the factors responsible for their motivation for international migration.


A self administered structured questionnaire was developed to collect respondents' demographic and educational characteristics, intention to train abroad, their preferred destination & post training intentions of returning to Pakistan. Various influencing factors which impact on medical graduate's motivation to train abroad or stay in Pakistan were explored using a 10 point scale. SPSS software was used for data entry and analysis.


Of the 400 eligible respondents, 275 responded (response rate 68.7%). One hundred and sixty six respondents (60.4%) intended to train abroad either for a specialty (54.9%) or a subspecialty (5.5%) The United States and United Kingdom were the most preferred destination. While 14.2% intended to return to Pakistan immediately after training, a significant percentage (10%) never intended to return to Pakistan or wished to stay abroad temporarily (37%). Professional excellence and establishing quickly in the competitive market were the most important goal to be achieved by the respondents for intention for postgraduate training abroad. The most common reasons cited for training abroad were the impact of residency training on future career (mean score 8.20 ± 2.3), financial conditions of doctors (mean score 7.97 ± 2.37) and job opportunities (mean score7.90 ± 2.34).


An alarming percentage of medical graduates from Lahore, Pakistan intend to migrate for post graduate training, mainly to United States. A significant proportion wished to stay in the host country either temporarily or indefinitely. Impact of residency abroad on future career, financial conditions of doctors, job opportunities and better working conditions were some of the motivating factors behind the migration.