Quinte Health Embraces Internationally Educated Team Members

a healthcare worker inside a hospital room wearing scrubs and a mask
Francis Amparo is happy to have come from the Philippines to join the Quinte Health team as a medical radiation technologist (MRT).

This article originally appeared on quintehealth.ca

For Francis Amparo, working in an Ontario hospital as an X-ray technologist is a dream come true. He chose this career path while living in his home country, the Philippines, knowing that he would one day bring his international education and work experience to Canada where career opportunities and compensation are far greater.

Quinte Health, much like other Canadian hospitals, has been grappling with recruiting enough health care providers for several years. Through much persistence, the Human Resources team has made excellent progress with recruitment and retention strategies, recently placing a strong focus on recruiting new graduates and internationally educated professionals. 

In February 2023, after a long and involved process, Quinte Health was able to welcome Francis, its first internationally educated medical radiation technologist (MRT) to the Diagnostic Imaging team.

Lyndsay Kerik, Quinte Health’s Recruitment and Retention Specialist, was involved in every step of the process, and once Francis and his wife (who is also an MRT – yet to be licensed in Ontario) arrived, she connected them to a wide range of community supports such as Quinte Immigration and Belleville International Group to assist with housing, community integration, and the necessities of living in Ontario.

“Lyndsay was hands-on with everything and we are really thankful because moving to another country with no friends or family around is a big challenge,” said Francis. “We’re really thankful to Quinte Health for giving us the opportunity to come here.”

“Francis has been a wonderful addition to the X-ray team—he is a hard worker and very dedicated to his patients,” said Tammy Robson, Program Manager, Diagnostic Imaging. “Providing an international healthcare worker the opportunity to live and work in Canada is life-changing for them. Healthcare workers like Francis want to demonstrate their gratitude through the quality of their work, and he receives many compliments from patients. Some patients who attend Diagnostic Imaging regularly will ask “Is Francis working?” when they arrive. I think that demonstrates the kind of impact he has made in the department.”

Hiring Francis as an MRT sparked Quinte Health’s interest in also hiring internationally educated nurses (IENs). While it’s a long, often arduous, process, Lyndsay says it’s worth the effort.

“We’re helping internationally educated workers change their lives for the better,” said Lyndsay. “They have strived to find an organization that would support them. When I first started posting jobs in areas where I knew we would get international applicants, I would receive dozens of emails per day from IENs. I replied to every one of them and explained what would be required if they wanted to come and work for us. I had a nurse say to me ‘You’re the only person out of about 100 organizations that I’ve emailed that responded to my message.’ A lot of organizations are scared of the process and aren’t willing to make the jump, but we made the jump and here we are diversifying our workforce, we’re giving these individuals new opportunities—a new life—and we’re improving patient care by hiring these much-needed additional members to our teams.”

Quinte Health has now hired and onboarded 18 internationally educated workers—17 of them nurses. An additional 14 (12 nurses, an MRT, and a physiotherapist) are still working through the process to get here.

Beatrice Muriithi is an internationally educated critical care nurse from Kenya who arrived to Quinte Health and joined the ICU team in December 2023. She was drawn to Canada for the welcoming environment, strong economy, and opportunities for personal and professional growth for her and her family.

healthcare worker wearing scrubs in a hospital room
Beatrice Muriithi moved to Belleville from Kenya to join the Quinte Health ICU team as a registered nurse.

For now, Beatrice’s husband and three daughters have stayed in Kenya and Beatrice misses them dearly, but she is excited for the day when they can join her in Canada. She enjoys Belleville’s quiet, friendly community and hopes her family will too.

“Coming from a developing country, there is a difference in economic advancement between what I was used to back in Kenya and what it is here,” said Beatrice. “I take each day as an opportunity to learn something new.”

And learning she has done! While the fundamentals are the same, nursing in Canada can be different than other countries. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Quinte Health’s Interprofessional Practice team, in conjunction with the specific nursing units, IENs arriving at Quinte Health undergo a comprehensive clinical readiness onboarding process that equips them with essential strategies, best practices, and hands-on learning opportunities within Quinte Health’s simulation lab.

Quinte Health has also been working with the CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses to offer workplace integration programs for both IENs and leaders to facilitate a smooth transition and successful integration into practice.

“Recruiting and supporting internationally trained health care professionals is a win-win solution, said Susan Rowe, Vice President, People and Communications. “Quinte Health and our teams benefit from having additional skilled staff who bring a wide range of experiences, perspectives, and diversity to our team. And the newcomers benefit from moving to the next chapter of their lives and careers in this beautiful region of Ontario, and within an organization that is committed to supporting their success.”