New U of M program will help newcomer health professionals find work in Manitoba

The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences has received more than $735,000 to help 400-500 foreign trained health professionals find work in their fields.

Program projected to start in 2021 will reduce barriers for internationally-educated professionals

The University of Manitoba Rady Faculty of Health Sciences has received more than $735,000 to help 400-500 internationally trained health professionals find work in their fields. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

The University of Manitoba is creating a program to help internationally-trained health professionals find work in Manitoba .

The new Access Hub for Internationally Educated Health Professionals will work collaboratively with regulatory bodies for health professionals, health-care employers and university health science programs to remove barriers foreign trained health professionals face in accessing employment in Manitoba. 

"This central hub will help highly-skilled newcomers navigate all the requirements to earn their licences, get registered in their professions and enter the Manitoba workforce faster than they typically do now," Hub director Natalie MacLeod Schroeder said in the release.

The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences received over $735,000 in federal funding to host the Hub.

"Our goal is to establish a single point of contact to streamline the supports that are already available and introduce new educational and employment supports," MacLeod Schroeder said.

Six health professions in Manitoba currently lack bridging programs: pharmacy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, respiratory therapy, speech language pathology and audiology, the release said. The Hub will prioritize helping people qualify for practice in Manitoba from these professions.

However, all health professionals educated outside of Canada can get assistance.

"Guiding newcomers to attain employment in their fields helps to retain them in the province and benefits the health-care system, particularly as we address the human resource challenges of COVID-19," Dr. Christine Polimeni, vice-dean of continuing competency and assessment, said in the release.

Through the Access Hub's initial phase, the program plans to help remove employment barriers for around 400-500 newcomer professionals, said MacLeod Schroeder in a release. The new initiative is funded by the Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program.

The Hub will allow professionals trained outside of Canada to do targeted upgrades through the option of taking individual academic courses and clinical fieldwork courses within Uof M health programs, like physical therapy and pharmacy.

"For the first time, this will enable newcomer professionals to fill gaps in their educational qualifications without having to enrol in an entire, full-time UM program," said Polimeni in Monday's release.

The Rady Faculty's Office of Continuing Competency and Assessment already provides in-demand bridging programs for doctors and dentists trained outside of Canada, while Red River College offers the bridging program for nurses.

From 2015 to 2017, about 320 internationally educated individuals from the six targeted fields applied to practice in Manitoba, with almost three-quarters being pharmacists, the release said. The statistics for their success rates in obtaining registration went from 18 per cent for occupational therapists to 70 per cent for pharmacists.  

The Access Hub will offer additional modules or workshops for immigrants in essential health-care competencies such as communication, professionalism, ethics and to motivate existing licensed professionals to be preceptors (mentors who supervise learners during clinical placements).    

"It can be very difficult to arrange for yourself to be supervised in a clinical setting if you don't have a network in Canada," said MacLeod Schroeder. 

The Hub will open in the summer or fall of 2021 and has funding to run into early 2023.

About the Author

Orinthia Babb is a journalist and associate producer with CBC Manitoba's current affairs department.