Hospital Doctor Retention and Motivation Project

We are conducting research on doctor emigration from Ireland

The Irish health system faces a medical workforce crisis as a result of weak retention and unchecked doctor emigration.

Health system responses to date have been focused on supply side measures (increased training, international recruitment), meaning that Ireland has been changing the doctors in the system, rather than changing the system itself.

The Hospital Doctor Retention and Motivation project will focus on doctor retention and on doctor motivation and morale.

Using qualitative and quantitative research methods and fieldwork in Australia and Ireland, we will seek to generate information to inform and improve doctor retention policy and practice in the Irish health system.

To begin with, we are focusing on Irish-trained doctors in Australia

Ireland has a high rate of doctor emigration and Australia is now the top destination country for Irish-trained doctors.

This phase of the project will involve conducting interviews with 40 - 50 Irish-trained doctors in Australia about their decision to migrate and their perspectives on return.

We will use this information to help Irish policy makers better understand the patterns of doctor migration flows from Ireland to Australia and the reasons for that migration.

Hospital Doctor Retention and Motivation: five study phases

The Hospital Doctor Retention and Motivation research project will have five study phases:

  • Phase 1: Australia Case Study (2018)
  • Phase 2: Irish Hospital Workplace Case Study (2019-20)
  • Phase 3: National Doctor Survey (2020)
  • Phase 4: Action Research Project (2021)
  • Phase 5: Knowledge Exchange (2018-22)

Phase 1: Australia Case Study (2018)

Ireland has a high rate of doctor emigration and Australia is now the leading destination country.

The dynamics of doctor migration from Ireland to Australia are poorly understood.

Using secondary data, this phase of the project will generate a profile of Irish trained doctors in Australia.

Qualitative interviews with Irish trained hospital doctors in Australia will be used to obtain insights into their experiences within the Australian health system and their suggestions for improving retention and return in the Irish context.

Dr Niamh Humphries, Principal Investigator

Do you know Irish-trained doctors working in Australia?

Irish-trained doctors working in Australia are invited to take part in this research project.

Dr Niamh Humphries, principal investigator for Hospital Doctor Retention and Motivation at RCPI will be in Australia in July and August 2018 conducting interviews with Irish trained doctors in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

If you know Irish-trained doctors working in Australia who might be able to participate in this research project, please ask them to get in touch. 

If you have any queries about the project or would like to take part, Niamh can be contacted on +353 (0)87 9816953 or niamhhumphries@rcpi.ie

Thank you for your interest in this project, which will contribute to our understanding of doctor emigration, retention and workplace morale, and which seeks to inform national health workforce policy.

This research will seek to find out why our highly-trained hospital doctors are emigrating and how best to motivate them to either stay in Ireland or to return to practice medicine in Ireland. The project will contribute to our understanding of doctor emigration, retention and workplace morale, and seeks to inform national health workforce policy.

Niamh Humphries PhD

Reader in Health Systems Research

Contact us

Niamh Humphries

Reader in Health Systems Research

Tel: +353 1 8639 693

Dr Niamh Humphries is a Reader in Health Systems Research who joined the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in April 2016. She holds a PhD in Sociology and has worked in health workforce research since 2006.  In 2017 she was awarded a prestigious HRB Emerging Investigator Award for a 4 year research project focussed on hospital doctor retention and motivation, which will involve fieldwork in Ireland and Australia. Her current research interests are health worker migration, health worker retention and the working lives of health workers.