In the first three months of 2011, Ontario’s health sector grew by nearly 47,000 jobs, according to the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
With the health care sector expected to continue to grow, and with immigrants projected to make up one-third of the workforce by 2031, internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) are an increasingly important source of talent.
“With an aging (nursing) workforce and the threat of nursing shortages, effective management and retention of internationally educated nurses is a priority,” says Dr. Andrea Baumann, Scientific Director at the Nursing Health Services Research Unit at McMaster University in Hamilton.
IEHPs can be key players in mainstream care, as they contribute to workforce renewal and bring valuable experience, skills and innovative ideas to health care employers in Canada. They also enable hospitals and other health care facilities to better reflect the diversity of the patient population, which can improve patient health outcomes.
Unfortunately, these highly skilled professionals also face barriers to employment in Canada.
Recognizing the value of these professionals and the challenges they face, The Ontario Hospital Association and the Nursing Health Services Research Unit, McMaster site, have created a web-based guide to help employers better hire and integrate internationally educated nurses (IENs) into the workplace.
Internationally Educated Nurses: An Employer’s Guide, funded by the Government of Ontario, provides a wealth of information, including the advantages of hiring IENs, how to create a harmonious workforce, organizational success stories and useful resources.
There are also videos in which health care employers who have been successful in integrating and advancing IENs, offer integration tips. Featured employers include the Toronto East General Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
IENs often mention their quest for respect and equal opportunities in promotion and leadership. The website includes stories by IENs about their experiences of becoming nurses in Canada.
For example, Maria Rosalie Rival, who migrated from the Philippines to Toronto in 2007, advises other IENs to research what is needed to register in Ontario before migration.
The result of an initiative like this website is is “not only effective use of human resources but a more diverse healthcare workforce that better reflects the Ontario population and enhances the quality of health care delivery. Language competency requirements, innovation and different approaches to complex situations will be key to the clinical environment,” says Dr. Baumann.