Internship a Win-Win for Providence Health Care and Internationally Educated Nurses

Recruiting staff at Providence Health Care (PHC) found Ursala Po through the Post-Licensure Program. Although she was a practicing nurse in the Philippines, Ursala needed 250 more hours of training to comply with the licensure requirements of the Canadian Registered Nurses of B.C. But PHC needed her skills and experience immediately.

The answer? Internships through the Post-Licensure Program.

Through the program, a partnership of the British Columbia government and the hospital, PHC offered four months of intensive orientation and training to internationally educated nurses (IENs) already living in Canada. This includes language and orientation courses, classroom work and a “preceptorship” (similar to a job placement) in a hospital unit at PHC. Nurses assume permanent full-time positions on the unit where they completed their preceptorship.

With British Columbia facing a shortage of health-care professionals, an internship IENs is clearly a win-win situation. PHC wins by utilizing the skills that nurses like Ursala bring. Ursala wins because, “Providence Health Care accepted me even though I had no license, or experience. When everyone else was closing their doors on me, PHC gave me the key to a productive life in Canada.”

Extended Onboarding for Internationally Educated Employees

PHC recognizes how different the Canadian medical system is for employees who are working in healthcare in Canada for the first time. Internationally Educated Nurses at PHC are offered the opportunity to participate in extended “shadow” shifts and mentoring, allowing them to gain confidence and a better understanding of the Canadian workplace. New Canadian employees are encouraged to spend longer in orientation to gather extra information from their mentors about the ins and outs of the Canadian medical system.

“Onboarding for IENs focuses on how to adapt to the culture of the working environment, from learning how to treat patients of all backgrounds to adapting to a Western style of medicine and healthcare,” explains Ann Vanderbijl, head of the Diversity Services Department.

In addition to the Post-Licensure and onboarding programs, PHC provides extended orientation courses and English language tutoring through local colleges. As part of their complete suite of onboarding initiatives, Providence Health Care also holds lectures and in-house workshops on cultural aspects of healthcare delivery. The end result is that IENs who start as interns become accomplished registered nurses, and vacant nursing positions at PHC are filled.

Tips for Employers:

  • Establish internships for IENs to fill recruiting gaps.
  • Guarantee your IEN’s continued contribution by creatively adapting onboarding programs.

Providence Health Care is one of the largest faith-based health care organizations in Canada. Located in Vancouver, they employ over 1,000 physicians and 6,000 staff. Guided by the principle “how you want to be treated,” Providence Health Care supports the creation of an inclusive environment for its staff and patients. Providence Health Care was selected as one of the Best Employers for New Canadians in 2008 and 2009, a designation that recognizes the nation’s top employers for recent immigrants.

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