Skills Connect Health 3rd Annual General Meeting

I have never been called a “Pollyanna” and while an optimist, I am also a realist. As such, I know that some things just take a lot of work, to work.

Have you ever noticed that ‘right out of the gate’ or ‘off the mark’, however you want to say it, many things don’t work as they are meant to without some work, remediation and elbow grease. Argh! In fact, too many things are like this! Whether it is the toy you buy your child for his birthday, or the new computer program you “try” to install and use. Over the last 2 years (since 2007) the Skills Connect for Immigrants – Health Program – Consortium, has been like this. The concept is brilliant: put all the players that have anything to do with assisting Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHP) in one room (employers, regulatory bodies, unions, post-secondary education institutions, associations and providers), facilitate and fund the meetings to remove the bugs and obstacles related to credential recognition, licensure and getting a job, and presto-chango, the BC Health Care delivery system works better as there are more Skilled Health professionals in the system ready to work, and the labour pool-skilled, internationally trained professionals-move more quickly into “their field” instead of driving taxi. Well, in theory that is how it should work….

In 2007 the BC Government began funding a program called Skills Connect for Immigrants – Health, an employment bridging program to assist IEHP’s with upgrading, credential recognition, licensure and employment. Back in Motion and Douglas College were the successful proponents to deliver these services to the Skilled Immigrants. The Skills Connect Health consortium and advisory started soon thereafter with the mandate to overcome obstacles, facilitate communication and make things work better and more simply for e.g. the Nurse, or Physical Therapist who has training, skills and experience in their home country. The Consortium just had its 3rd annual meeting on November 26, 2009 to discuss the successes achieved, the changes required, and work to be done in the upcoming year. The Consortium advisory group meets 5-6 times per year, is a subset of the larger Consortium, and is charged with doing the work of the larger group.

So what has happened in these past 2 years? Well, to date 1000 IEHPs have entered the program. Of these 270 who have completed the program, and 80% have found employment. In addition, working groups of employers have met, English language training for the workplace courses have started, and regulatory bodies have streamlined and improved their processes. Most importantly communication and dialogue continues about how to do better and improve cumbersome and outdated structures. But there is still a lot of work to be done. And the work and change required in these kind of complicated interconnected systems moves unbelievably slowly despite best efforts and intentions. As hard as it is, we need to be patient and diligently challenge old ways of doing things. Of course, just when we think we’re doing better there will be new challenges to any progress made, such as the current Health Authority amalgamations, and changing personnel. In the words of Mr. Minhas, a foreign trained pharmacist from Egypt who has been successful at getting his credentials recognized, passing examinations, attaining Pharmacy Registration in BC, and securing employment in his field, “you will always fail at 100% of the challenges you do not take!”.

To hear and see some of the challenges and successes that our clients have experienced and were told at this years Skills Connect Health Consortium conference please check out our youtube link on www.skillsconnect.ca