Canada is also home to thousands of experienced International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and other foreign-trained professionals, many of whom are refugees, who were forced to leave their home countries and professions but are not using their many skills and assets here in Canada.
Internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) know that they may need to wait an unknown amount of time before they are able to practice in Canada if they ever do. Due to financial constraints, most will need to find a reliable source of income while waiting. For others, language or cost may be a barrier in taking and passing the National Assessment Collaboration Examination. Getting a residency spot is even more of a challenge for IEHPs, regardless of their past experience.
After qualifying exams, language assessments, and registration with the Medical Council of Canada’s website, Canadian provinces generally require a two-year residency in one of the coveted residency spots, competing with young Canadians who have recently graduated.
However, for far too many IEHPs, simply knowing where to start, and what their pathways and options are, is a challenge in itself.
In 2022 the CMF partnered with The Pegasus Institute to determine how best to support IEHPs as they navigate their new environment and way forward. With our funding support, the Pegasus Institute held a series of consultations, interviews and informal focus groups in 2022, and were able to identify that many of the barriers faced by internationally educated health professionals when seeking matched (or similar) licensure to that of their home country were related to the current lack of access to comprehensive, centralized information.
In 2022 the Wellesley Institute also published a report on a needs assessment in the Greater Toronto Area’s Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector. A key finding from this report was that of the lack of transition of research and knowledge to practice (dissemination), the lack of centralized resources for information that exists, the gaps that exist with regards to the knowledge that is embedded in these resources, and methods of sharing with the population. The report also suggests that a way to close these gaps may be to create a centralized online portal or hub for the sharing of resources.
Resources to pathways for licensure or alternate options in the healthcare field exist online, but they are often incomplete and scattered across different websites, leaving the user at a dead end in their search and further confused about how to navigate the system. These pathways are also different depending on the user’s country of origin, credentials, experience, and whether or not they have the documentation to show their eligibility.
In 2023, through this partnership, the Pegasus Institute commenced work on a website and digital platform, which will contain video, photo, and written content and resources for IEHPs looking for guidance on their pathway.
Our primary goal for this project is to use knowledge mobilization practices (i.e., knowledge synthesis, dissemination, transfer, exchange, and co-creation by researchers and knowledge users) to build agency within IEHP communities and increase their access to accurate and relevant centralized resources to help them in their journey in searching for suitable pathways to licensure or related employment in the healthcare field upon arrival to Canada.
Once our platform is built, this population could consult this platform even before they arrive in Canada, offering them an easy and quick means to accessing the information they need to prepare to rebuild their life.
This project will also contain a mentorship peer-to-peer support component as well as in-person “Best Brain Exchanges” (a model used by the Canadian Institute of Health Research) whereby users of the system will get the opportunity to exchange their experiences and educate on gaps that exist in their peers’ knowledge. IEHPs would benefit from wisdom and encouragement from other IEHPs who have experience working within the system and within the Canadian context.