Medical Laboratory Professionals Release Recommendations to help Eliminate Barriers faced by Internationally Educated Health Professionals

OTTAWA, Feb. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is releasing key research findings on barriers faced by internationally educated health professionals in fulfilling entry-to-practice standards in Canada.

Funded through the Government of Canada's Foreign Credential Recognition Program, the research assessed the integration of practising immigrant health professionals in Canada relative to their domestically educated counterparts, bringing together five different health professions: medical laboratory science (CSMLS and the College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario), medical radiation technology (Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists), physiotherapy (Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators), occupational therapy (Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists), and pharmacy (Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy, University of Toronto).

Project Manager Keith Johnson feels this is a seminal piece of research.  "While many initiatives have looked at the barriers facing skilled immigrants in having their credentials assessed, very few have looked at the quality of their integration once licensed and working," said Johnson.

"The integration of internationally educated professionals into the Canadian workforce is a significant challenge for all professions, including medical laboratory technology," said Tricia VanDenakker, President, CSMLS.  "As the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists, CSMLS is committed to ensuring that credentials are assessed fairly and efficiently while at the same time safeguarding the integrity of the national certification process."

The report, entitled Assessing the Workforce Integration of Internationally Educated Health Professionals, highlights qualitative and quantitative research and examines the extent to which internationally educated health professionals (IEHP) have become integrated into their respective occupations relative to their Canadian educated (CEHP) counterparts.

The methodology included conducting 21 focus groups (14 with IEHPs, 7 with CEHPs) in centres across Canada, in which a total of 118 individuals participated.  Based on the key themes evidenced during these sessions, an online survey was drafted, to which a total of 1,123 (203 IEHPs, 920 CEHPs) individuals in the target group responded.

Key findings include:

  • 87% of both groups indicated overall "satisfaction" with their current job, after becoming licensed and participating in their workforce.
  • IEHPs demonstrate a relatively higher level of satisfaction of specific aspects of their job/career, compared with their Canadian educated counterparts.
  • Nearly seven out of ten IEHP respondents said that their current employer was doing a "good" or "excellent" job with regards to successfully incorporating and recognizing their skills and abilities.
  • 73% of IEHPs felt that their overseas training was ultimately "very useful" in the Canadian context.
  • Over 50% of IEHP survey respondents indicated the desire for additional education and training related to areas such as certification/licensing exams and Canadian/provincial laws and regulations, among others.

"It is evident that the integration of internationally educated health professions has benefited from recent attention and investment over the past several years," said Christine Nielsen, Executive Director, CSMLS.  "However, it is also clear that there is still room for improvement and advancement.  Without a doubt, IEHPs would benefit from improved access to clinical placements and education".  This move will help to ease the future impact of a shortage of medical laboratory technologists and ensure that Canada's health care system is not compromised.

The five professions remain committed to exploring areas of collaborative opportunities for future work, based on the core recommendations outlined in the report.

The Government of Canada is making significant progress to help skilled newcomers find jobs in their fields faster. The Economic Action Plan invested $50 million to work with the provinces and territories, and other stakeholders, to improve foreign credential recognition. This partnership led to the development of the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, which was announced in November 2009. Under the Framework, foreign credential recognition and experience is being streamlined for key occupations, including those covered in the CSMLS report. The Framework is helping internationally trained health care practitioners put their knowledge and skills to work sooner in communities across Canada.

"We thank the Government of Canada for their ongoing support," concluded Ms. Nielsen, "and we look forward to working together to move forward on the key recommendations."

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) is the national certifying body for medical laboratory technologists and medical laboratory assistants, and the national professional society for Canada's medical laboratory professionals. Incorporated in 1937, CSMLS has over 14,000 members.


For further information:

or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Michelle Squarciotta
Director, Marketing, Communications and Membership, CSMLS
Tel. : 1-905-667-8693

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