Work: New Home New Career

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Ali Abdulla came to Canada from Iraq in 2008 looking for a better life. He dreamed of practicing medicine in his new home – Canada. Very rapidly he learned what the reality was: an International Medical Doctor (IMD) faces significant barriers to obtain a license to practice medicine in Canada. He realized it was going to be a long and challenging process with no certainty of licensure.

With the realization of questionable success in becoming a Canadian licensed physician, Ali decided to look at other options. He started to think about how he could apply some of his skills, knowledge and experience to alternative or non-regulated work in the health care sector. It was this thinking that led him to the Career Transitions program for International Medical Doctors.

The Career Transitions program is delivered to International Medical Doctors (IMD) in partnership with Skills for Change (Toronto), Settlement and Integration Services Organization (Hamilton) and LASI World Skills (Ottawa). Career Transitions is lead by the Catholic Immigration Centre and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. The Catholic Immigration Centre has been providing settlement and integration services for newcomers in Ottawa since 1954.

Career Transitions was developed to provide focused training and employment assistance to unemployed or under-employed IMDs in their search for positions in health care related roles. “A number of years ago,” says Ottawa-based Program Manager, Arber Zaplluzha, “we noticed that a large percentage of our clients who are internationally educated and trained doctors were having real difficulty finding meaningful work, and so we decided to create a program to give them the kind of knowledge they need to successfully integrate into the work force.”

The program takes a practical approach to providing IMD with the skills and knowledge they need to become employed. The workshops cover topics such as Canadian business culture, transferable skills, retraining possibilities, “Action Plans”, and how to market themselves for employment. Career Transitions also includes an instructive workshop on writing résumés, cover letters and how to succeed in a job interview. At the end of the program, IMDs receive a certificate of completion and ongoing support from the Career Transitions team in résumé and cover letter writing, interview preparation, job search and career guidance.

Ali Abdullah, now employed as a Clinical Research Coordinator, says “I gained so much from the Career Transitions Program. It really opened my eyes to the alternatives available to International Medical Doctors in Canada. Not only did I learn about the structure and organization of the health care system, but I also learned how to use my skills in different areas, how to present myself in my cover letter and résumé, and which websites would be most useful in my job search. Most importantly, the program provided me the support I needed to become employed and allowed me to connect with other IMDs, to exchange tips and ideas.”

For more information and to register in the Career Transitions program, go to

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