STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR
St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto has been honoured for a program to recruit and integrate new Canadians.
Among SMH’s more than 5,100 employees are internationally educated professionals from 85 countries. Nearly half of those come from the Philippines, India and China.
The hospital partners with the Career Bridge Program to hire and mentor foreign-trained professionals as paid interns in non-clinical roles. Non-clinical staff working in areas like human resources, education services and research make up approximately 25 per cent of the hospital’s staff.
“We offer 6-8 internships a year paid through a fund set up by our executive vice-president and about 50 per cent of our interns are hired permanently,” says SMH Recruitment Manager Kevin Kirkpatrick.
Before he emigrated from China, Haifeng (Frank) Yu was employed as an occupational health physician. His first Canadian job was administering medical questionnaires on the telephone for an insurance company. But five months after he arrived, he was hired for a six-month internship advertised on the Career Bridge website at the SMH family and patient learning centre.
The internship was extended for an additional four months and subsequently Yu was offered a full-time job. Now he is in charge of larger projects including facilitating the delivery of telemedicine through secure networks from doctors in Toronto to patients in other parts of the province who are either too ill or too far to visit the hospital in person.
Of three colleagues in Yu’s department, two are new immigrants and one is going through the same internship program. He says, “St. Michael’s is a great place. They take care of their staff, students, anyone who works here.”
Bangladesh-trained cardiologist Akm Alamgir agrees that SMH is “a compassionate workplace.” When Alamgir was a student in Centennial College’s Fitness and Health Promotion program as part of the coursework he was placed as an unpaid intern in St. Michael’s corporate health and safety services.
Even before he was hired on a full-time contract to conduct a systematic review of research about employee disability and pharmaceutical claims, he was encouraged to participate in the hospital’s Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP) series of seminars.
This “opt in” program runs from January to June, usually twice a month on Mondays for a full day. It is available to employees who have worked at SMH for less than two years and each year about 20-25 people enrol with the approval of their managers. Topics covered include organizational culture, effective communication simulations, and interprofessional teamwork.
Alamgir, who is also studying to become licensed as a doctor in Canada, says the IEP program exceeded his expectations. “I especially like the simulation exercises because when I can practise medicine again it will help me to better understand the behavioural, or ‘non-lingual’ aspects of dealing with patients.”
The third leg of SMH’s outreach to new immigrants has been as a founding member and continuing partner with the Care Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses. The Care Centre’s priority is to empower internationally educated nurses to successfully enter the nursing profession in Ontario.
Other companies on the 2013 list of Best Employers for New Canadians are also committed to assisting foreign-trained professionals who are seeking recognition of their credentials or need help meeting Canadian licensing requirements.
For example, Ernst & Young LLP offers an in-house Chartered Accountant Reciprocity Exam program to assist employees with foreign credential recognition and law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP sponsors the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law’s Internationally-Trained Lawyer’s program.
You can find the full list of this year’s winners here: http://www.canadastop100.com/immigrants/.