Empowering Globally Educated Health Professionals with Career Development

Canada’s Saskatoon Health Region’s career development for internationally educated health professionals is helping immigrants overcome regulatory barriers and opening pathways for them to excel in health professions.

The innovative Power of Hope Program is the result of a successful partnership between The Hope-Centered Research Team: Norman Amundson (University of British Columbia), Spencer Niles (The College of William and Mary), and Hyung Joon Yoon (Al Akhawayn University) and the Saskatchewan Pathways Project. Their collaborative work is providing new health professionals to the region the support they need to successfully navigate regulatory processes and accomplish their professional goals. The link between underemployment for immigrants in the health sector and their mental health is far-reaching and includes simultaneously adjusting to a new culture, climate, workplace and professional identity.

The Saskatoon Regional Health is the largest health region in Saskatchewan, Canada. The health region operates out of 75 facilities, including 10 hospitals, 29 long-term care facilities and a variety of primary health centers, mental health and addiction centers and community based facilities. It is the largest employer in the region with a staff of over 13,500.

Overcoming Professional Barriers

It’s IEHP (International Educated Health Professionals) Support, Bridging, and Integration Project, identifies one of the most common and significant barriers to licensure in the health care field as meeting regulatory body requirements for language. Its pathways project, The Power of Hope, is successfully helping to build a solid foundation for supporting internationally educated nurses and health care professionals on their paths to professional licensure and ensuring they are supported within their workplaces.

As a result of numerous challenges and barriers involved in the health licensure process, immigrants often spend many years working in positions where they are over-qualified.  The program focuses on action-oriented hope as a means to support these individuals as they reflect on their circumstances, envision their ideal future and then develop, implement and adapt their plans in order to achieve their goals.

The program includes language workshops, online courses, and time management and goal setting to bring out career competencies. It further explores correlations between client demographics, HCCI results, and career progress for using hope as a catalyst for moving forward on a pathway.

“Participants are facing many challenges and are adjusting to so many factors all at once that they seem to have lost their motivation to progress on their pathway. Hope is what fuels one’s internal drive to move forward and in its absence we can quickly become motionless,” a report from the Hope-Centered Career Development for International Educated Health Professionals states.

The IEHP Project is nearing the end of a five-year strategy funded by Health Canada and in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. The project runs through March 2016. Between 2012 and 2015 enrollment has increased from 66 to more than 600.

Design of the Power of Hope Model

While the program is giving support and hope to hundreds of health care professionals, it is designed to explore the role and impact of hope for immigrants pursuing licensure; specifically in the areas of pathway engagement, resiliency, and, ultimately, successful licensure. The three key objectives are:

  • To understand and explore correlations between client demographics, HCCI results, and progress on a pathway back to licensure.
  • To implement and measure the effectiveness of various career interventions to bolster hope.
  • To explore the role of hope as a predictor of, or catalyst for, forward movement on a pathway back to licensure.

“Without action-oriented hope, the process required to regain professional licensure can quickly become overwhelming,” Workforce Planning Consultant Amber Clarke said. There  are many challenges, and often failures, along the way, that make it easy for negative self-talk, self-doubt, and a generalized sense of despair to grow. This can deplete a person’s overall sense of hope. Many participants said that when they lost hope, they no longer felt a desire to move forward and that they could overcome their challenges.

Assistance with reframing their perspective, using creative problem solving, and action planning, is working in tandem with the HCCI and “career flow” language to strengthen the participants’ ability to understand, anticipate, and respond to challenges on their pathway.

Results are showing a strong correlation between levels of hope and career progression. The research shows that targeted, hope-based interventions strengthen pathway, agency, and goal-directed thinking; making action-oriented hope a catalyst for forward movement, and a key determinant in the pathway toward career success.