Bridging Program Connects Mount Sinai Hospital with Internationally-Trained Nurses

Mount Sinai’s success comes in part from having a diverse team of skilled talent

In a diverse city like Toronto, tapping into skilled immigrant talent is essential for any organization looking to understand and serve the needs of the community.

At Mount Sinai Hospital, diverse teams of nurses, physicians and clinicians from many backgrounds work together to provide patient and family-centred care, says Tracy Kitch, Senior Vice-President of Patient Services and Chief Nursing Executive.

“Mount Sinai is committed to retaining and attracting the brightest minds and biggest hearts in the field, including skilled newcomers and new graduates, and to provide the supports they need to thrive so our patients can benefit,” she says.

Breaking down barriers

To better recruit and retain internationally educated nurses (IENs), the hospital established an active corporate partnership with the Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses (CARE) — a bridging program that helps nurses have their foreign education and experience recognized and upgraded as needed so they can become licensed nurses in Ontario.

The partnership provides Mount Sinai’s HR team with the opportunity to meet highly skilled nurses and helps the IENs better integrate into the workplace.

“This program helps break down barriers for foreign-trained nurses and improves access to jobs in their field, offering a hub of resources, including exam preparation, counselling, feedback, observational job shadowing experiences and language upgrading,” explains Marija Kvesic, Senior Recruiter at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The CARE Project serves as a critical bridge for IENs, helping them close the gaps between their previous education and experience and the standards and practices of nursing in Canada.

Job-shadowing provides inside track to skilled talent

One way the program helps prepare nurses, both professionally and personally, to work at a Canadian hospital like Mount Sinai is through the Observational Job Shadowing component.

This free learning opportunity for IENs who are CARE members partners IENs with expert nurses for three to five work shifts. This gives them the chance to observe first-hand the nursing profession in Ontario.

Several of the IENs who now work at Mount Sinai first came to the attention of the hospital’s recruiters through the job shadowing experience.

The experience increases the IENs’ understanding of a Canadian nurse’s role and scope of practice while also increasing their familiarity with Canadian workplace language and culture.

Mentoring another way to find in-demand talent

To tap into a pool of internationally educated professionals outside of the nursing profession, such as accounting and information technology, the hospital also takes part in The Mentoring Partnership, a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

The program brings together skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships.

Not only does the program provide potential recruitment opportunities for mentees, says Ms. Kvesic, it also provides professional development for the hospital’s staff who act as mentors.

For its recognition of the value of skilled immigrant talent, Mount Sinai was shortlisted in TRIEC’s 2012 Immigrant Success Awards for the Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration.

Tips for Employers

  • Offer skilled immigrants the opportunity to get to know your organization before hiring them — either through work placements, job shadowing or mentoring — increasing their likelihood of success.
  • Partner with bridging programs to find skilled international talent who have already upgraded their education and training to meet Canadian requirements.
  • Connect with mentoring programs for additional access to internationally trained professionals, providing professional development for staff and recruitment opportunities for immigrants.

Read more about another large hospital, St. Michael’s on how they are sourcing talent through paid internships.

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