Seeking a second opinion: Immigrant doctors help others apply to Canadian system
Stories of internationally trained doctors unable to secure Canadian residency spots or excel at the exam process are all too common. The International Doctors Network (IDN) is doing all it can to support these doctors applying and re-applying to the system, including forming partnerships with other non-profit organizations.
IDN has been helping internationally trained doctors study for their Canadian medical exams, improve their English skills, and make professional and personal connections since 2009. Members aren’t required to pay any fees because of the work of volunteers and the generosity of their community partners. One community partner in particular stands out for its contribution to the success of IDN: the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF).
LEF donated office space to IDN, a significant factor in helping IDN meet their mandate. The space provides IDN members with a place to go that is specifically for them. They are there to gain the skills necessary to thrive in their new home.
“Initially we lacked a location for members to practice English and study for medical exams,” explains IDN President Fernando Rivas. “The office space offered to us by LEF made it possible for us to do both on a regular basis.”
In addition to providing language and study support, IDN also encourages members to start building their network and teaches them how to do so. It is clear where this lesson comes from. The IDN learned the importance of making connections after seeing their partnership with LEF flourish.
For the past two years LEF has donated space for IDN’s annual conference, as well as providing event coordination support, food and event materials. LEF also had a hand in developing IDN’s website.
“The partnership with IDN makes a lot of sense for LEF,” says Margarida Almeida, manager, skills advancement, LEF. “Helping individuals and their families become self-sufficient is our mandate. So helping internationally trained doctors re-enter their profession is a natural extension of what we’re all about.”
At first, IDN meetings at the LEF office were small, informal discussions, but as word about the program spread, so did the number of members. Yet another partnership, this time with TRIEC, helped to achieve this increase in members. TRIEC contributed to membership growth by connecting internationally trained doctors to IDN.
“At first the only partnership was between our organization and LEF, but later we met TRIEC,” explains Fernando. “TRIEC gave us the tools to formalize and sustain our organization. Our membership and the confidence of those members have increased because of the support TRIEC has given us.”
IDN’s partnerships with LEF, TRIEC and other organizations have enabled it to support internationally trained doctors as they strive make connections and find employment in Canada.
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