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Beyond medical degrees: employers’ views of the quality indicators of medical graduates in Saudi Arabia

Althukair, Danah; Rattray, Julie

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Danah Althukair


In recent years, there has been a shift towards seeing employability as a key outcome of higher education (HE). Despite this, there is still a concern that graduates are not well prepared for the labour market. One way to bridge the gap between education and the labour market is to involve employers in considerations of employability frameworks or sets of required graduate attributes. This paper reports on a study aimed at identifying how employers of medical graduates in Saudi Arabia conceptualise quality in HE. The main objective of this study is to develop a model of quality in HE that incorporates employers’ views of medical education and its graduates. An exploratory two-stage design was adopted, utilising interviews and survey data. This paper discusses the interview findings relating to medical graduates’ attributes in particular. Fourteen medical employers were interviewed to determine how they conceptualise quality in relation to medical educational experience and graduate attributes. Thematic Analysis of these interviews suggests that views of quality fall into three broad themes: Graduate Abilities, Graduate Readiness, and Research and Engagement Experience. Data drawn from these interviews indicate that employers favour the soft skills of medical graduates over their basic medical knowledge. Additionally, effective practical skills were cited as being of particular importance and highly desirable. This study has implications for the development and delivery of medical education in Saudi Arabia, aspiring to narrow the gap between HE and the labour market.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 15, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 14, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Feb 18, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 18, 2022
Journal Journal of Further and Higher Education
Print ISSN 0309-877X
Electronic ISSN 1469-9486
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 6
Pages 793-806
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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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