NewsInternationally-Educated Health Workers Bridging Gaps in Alberta's Healthcare System

Internationally-Educated Health Workers Bridging Gaps in Alberta’s Healthcare System

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In response to shortages in the healthcare system, Alberta is increasing the integration of internationally-educated health workers, supported by an $86 million federal funding initiative aimed at health professional accreditation and addressing workforce shortages.

Edmonton’s NorQuest College, having previously received provincial funding for its internationally-educated program, has been a key player in this initiative. Rudo Mapanga, a participant in the program, shared her experience as an internationally-educated healthcare professional. Originally from Zimbabwe, she arrived in Alberta two years ago, holding a nursing degree from her home country and a Ph.D. from South Africa. Despite her qualifications, not all credentials were recognized in Canada, prompting her to enroll in NorQuest College’s Practical Nurse Diploma for Internationally Educated Students.

Mapanga emphasized the program’s focus on aligning skills with the Canadian context. Ayshea Thornton, the academic program manager at NorQuest, noted that many students entering the program possess the necessary skills and education for Canadian nursing but face challenges due to non-recognition of credentials. Thornton highlighted the potential outcomes for those facing such challenges: leaving the health profession or accepting lower-paid work. The internationally-educated program aims to provide orientation, experience in Canadian healthcare, and a practical nursing diploma, allowing graduates to re-enter the healthcare workforce.

Funding from the provincial government enabled NorQuest to expand its program from 50 to 250 seats, contributing to the availability of more healthcare professionals in the province. Thornton emphasized the program’s role in addressing gaps in rural healthcare, as many students express interest in working in such areas. Internationally-educated students, with diverse health knowledge and experience, also provide valuable assistance to their peers and integrate into the profession with relative ease.

Beyond immediate workforce benefits, Thornton highlighted the long-term advantages of obtaining a diploma, as graduates can pursue further education and specializations. Mapanga, set to graduate in August, aspires to become a nurse practitioner and recommends the program for individuals seeking to continue their passion in a supportive and culturally attuned environment.

The internationally-educated program not only addresses current healthcare workforce challenges but also serves as a pathway for skilled professionals to contribute significantly to Alberta’s healthcare landscape.

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