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New pilot program for internationally trained medical doctors to improve public health and healthcare in Canada

July 9/2018

By: Francoise Makanda and Nicole Bodnar

A new program led by DLSPH and DFCM teaches internationally trained medical doctors Canadian healthcare principles and prepares learners for career transition opportunities in healthcare.

“New Canadian immigrants are an untapped, highly skilled health human resource that can play a critical role in improving public health and healthcare in the GTA and beyond,” said Dr. Shafi Bhuiyan, Assistant Professor of Clinical Public Health at DLSPH and pilot co-creator.

“This pilot will also further diversify the School and advance its internationalization agenda,” said Bhuiyan, who is also a distinguished visiting scholar and co-founder of the internationally trained medical doctors (ITMDs) post graduate bridge training program at Ryerson University.

Drs. Bhuiyan and Ross Upshur advocated for a pilot project to determine if the current requirement of having an active clinical license was necessary for successful completion of the Master of Science in Community Health (Family and Community Medicine). This degree provides an opportunity for licensed health care professionals to develop academic, research, teaching and leadership skills. For ITMDs, this would open the door for graduates to reposition their careers into roles such as clinical research associates, clinic coordinators, patient care educators and healthcare teachers.

ITMD learners follow the same curriculum as students with a clinical license in Canada: They have one and half elective credits, six mandatory credits and a 160 hours practicum. Of the mandatory requirements, they must complete two public health courses, a seminar course on social, political and scientific issues in family medicine, a research course and a system leadership course. To evaluate the pilot project, Dr. Julia Alleyne, Associate Director of Graduate Studies at DFCM, has administered a focus group, analyzed practicum experiences and compared academic achievements.

“This is a unique collaboration that meets the needs of MScCH program and the growing cohort of internationally trained physicians looking to hone skills and work in Canada’s healthcare system,” said Upshur, Clinical Public Health Division Head and pilot co-lead.

“While a small pilot, early results indicate that the students are capable, motivated and engaged, and we hope to continue the program while more formally evaluating its impact,” said Upshur.

The next student intake is September 2018 and nine new international medical graduates will be enrolled in the MScCH-FCM pilot. The next opportunity for new applications will be in January 2019 for admission in September 2019. Applications are open to any international medical graduates who have permanent Canadian status of residence.

Click here to read DFCM’s article.