Why are you draining your brain? Factors underlying decisions of graduating Lebanese medical students to migrate

Elie A. Akl, Nancy Maroun, Stella Major, Claude Afif, Bechara Chahoud, Jacques Choucair, Mazen Sakr, Holger J. Schünemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of a worldwide physician brain drain phenomenon, Lebanon has the highest emigration factor in the Middle East and North Africa. In this manuscript we aim to identify and develop a conceptual framework for the factors underlying the decisions of graduating Lebanese medical students to train abroad. We conducted two focus groups and seven semi-structured individual interviews with 23 students. In the deductive analysis (based on the push-pull theory), students reported push factors in Lebanon and pull factors abroad related to five dimensions. They focused predominantly on how training abroad provides them with a competitive advantage in an oversaturated Lebanese job market. An inductive analysis revealed the following emerging concepts: repel factors abroad and retain factors locally; societal expectations that students should train abroad; marketing of abroad training; and an established culture of migration. The marketing of abroad training and the culture of migration are prevalent in the academic institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1278-1284
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Brain drain
  • Lebanon
  • Medical students
  • Middle east
  • Migration
  • Physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

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