Saskatoon Health Region’s Pathways Program earned an honourable mention in the Profiles in Diversity Journal’s Innovations in Diversity Awards in 2014, the second year in a row the program has been recognized by the magazine. 

Each year, the July/August issue of Profiles in Diversity Journal recognizes companies and organizations that “take diversity and inclusion to the next level by developing innovative programs that enable and encourage their employees to thrive at work,” the magazine states.

Pathways Program participants from Saskatoon.

The Pathways Program, which helps internationally educated health professionals enter their chosen profession in Canada, has been recognized once again with an honourable mention in the Innovations in Diversity Awards.

The Saskatoon Health Region’s submission, which highlighted the peer networking portion of the Pathways: Internationally Educated Health Professional (IEHP) Support, Bridging and Integration program, was one of many submitted by organizations from around the world. Among the top 30, 10 were included in the magazine’s Top 10, 10 were given Awards of Excellence, and nine earned honourable mentions.

Last year, the Pathways Program earned an Award of Excellence from the magazine.  Pathways Program consultants Allison Laughren and Amber Clarke of Saskatoon Health Region Workforce Planning are ecstatic that their project was recognized again.

Though it has a provincial scope, the Pathways project is led by Saskatoon Health Region in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, with funding from Health Canada.  The initial goal was to support 200 IEHPs, but the project has far exceeded that target – so far helping 557 people with 18 months still remaining in its five-year mandate. Of the 557 participants, 141 have become licensed in their profession or an alternate health profession.

Those involved in the project are all employed within regional health authorities within Saskatchewan, but not within the professions they trained for. “The majority are working in support roles,” noted Clarke.

When employees register in the Pathways Program, Laughren and Clarke help them navigate through the licensure system, providing information about the examinations and course requirements that are necessary for them to achieve licensure in the same or similar profession in which they were employed in their home countries.

“Many people are unaware of the changes that have been made to the process of becoming licensed in a health profession for those educated abroad,” said Laughren. “It’s a more intense process now than it was even just a few years ago.”  More documentation is required, the assessments are more in depth, and more education is usually required, so more support is necessary.  Language remains the number on barrier for the majority of the program participants.

So far, the program has assisted IEHPs to attain licensure as Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Medical Radiological Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, and Physical Therapists. And now that so many have made it through the program, peer mentoring is coming to the fore.

“Quite a few of those who have become licensed have continued to attend program events and workshops, and have referred others to the program,” said Clarke.

Peer networking is being supported by the program through a variety of career-related workshops, family events, and potluck gatherings.  These gatherings, in conjunction with forums on social media, offer participants opportunities to enhance their communication skills, develop relationships, and learn from each other’s experiences – in general, providing support to one another as they work towards achieving their goals.

“We talk about mentorship – what that means and how they can support and motivate each other,” said Laughren. “The workshops allow them to get together, and share stories.”

“When they’re sharing stories, that’s where the bonds start to form,” said Clarke.

A new determination usually forms in those who are still working through the process of getting licensed when they realize other IHEPs have achieved success. It gives them renewed hope, and a sense that they will be able to reach their goals like those before them.

Since the Peer Network was launched in March of 2013, 224 participants have attended an event or workshop.  One of the most successful workshops is Time Management/Goal Setting, which was introduced in October 2013. This workshop, held in centres all over the province, helps participants develop the skills necessary to effectively manage their time and set goals so they can achieve success.

They also offer annual events for participants and their families which focus on fun and team building. One held in Regina this year was a Survivor Challenge, which was attended by 70 people. The Saskatoon family event, planned for the end of September, will be an Olympic Games held at the Forestry Farm.

The participants themselves give the entire program and the workshops two big thumbs up.

“I am deeply thankful for your support in fulfilling my dreams,” one was quoted as saying.

“I just wanted to thank you or all your help in the achievement of my dreams. I just got my good news from SRNA yesterday…. I am now an RN in Canada,” said another participant.