Working in Health Care
By Afshan Basaria *
Many internationally trained doctors, nurses and other professionals feel frustrated when they first arrive in Canada and find out that they may not be able to work in their pre-landing occupations instantly. As an immigrant myself, I know that settling in a new country can be tough, and the path to attain career satisfaction is even tougher.
Most health occupations in Canada are regulated; this means that anyone who wishes to work as a nurse, physiotherapist, pharmacist or physician in Canada, for example, has to gain a licence to practise. No licence usually translates into no employment. But acquiring licensure can be a long and tedious process.
The first step for new immigrants should be to contact the regulatory body (for their relevant profession in their province), to seek a thorough understanding of the application process regarding;
- credential evaluation
- language requirements
- relevant bridging programs
- skills enhancement requirements
- required examination
- processing times for applications
Unfortunately, you realize licensure could take up to several years, but you need to start working now, so what do you do?
For the short term
While you are working toward your licensure, you could consider taking a short-term course that could enable you to find employment in the health industry sooner rather than later.
Think about your transferable skills; for example, if you have professional experience as a registered nurse, consider taking a short-term training course as a licensed practical nurse, care aide, medical lab assistant or medical office assistant. This way you would still be able to work in the health care industry and gain valuable experience as you work toward your long-term goal.
Expand your horizons
Also, consider looking for opportunities in other cities or provinces. Some provinces have more lenient requirements for obtaining licensure than others and offer excellent relocation packages, incentives, signing bonuses and great job opportunities. For example, Manitoba’s Nurses Recruitment and Retention Fund offers nurses up to $8,000 to offset the costs associated with relocating to Manitoba.
Do your PD
Wherever you choose to settle, engage in professional development while working toward your licensure. Read current affair magazines and health publications to keep you updated with current industry trends.
Research and join relevant professional associations to get insider information on events, workshops, courses, etc. This way you can enhance your professional knowledge as well as acquaint yourself to the Canadian standards.
Form or participate in study groups to practise for various examinations that you might have to take as part of your licensure requirement.
And find out volunteering opportunities in the health industry to engage with the community and gain workplace experience.
It’s also important to increase your understanding of culturally expected manners of the Canadian health care system. Work hard to orient yourself to Canadian communication styles in the workplace.
Remember, an employer sees hundreds of applications and resumés for one job posting. Ask yourself this question: “Who am I competing against for this job?”
In all likelihood, you are competing with candidates who may have been born and bred in Canada, have Canadian education, Canadian experience and an excellent grasp of the English language. For you to be competitive, you will have to work extensively toward your licensure, language and communication skills, and professional development.
* Afshan Basaria is a career development practitioner with the Skills Connect for Immigrants program in B.C.
[Source: Canadian Immigrant]