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Pharmacy professor to establish program for internationally educated healthcare professionals More than half a million invested by federal government

November 24, 2006

Source: University of Toronto

A recent federal government investment of $600,000 provides for the creation of an orientation program for internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Professor Zubin Austin, Ontario College of Pharmacists Professor in Pharmacy Practice, is the project lead.

The funding, provided over two years, will allow Austin to examine the learning needs of IEHPs, including pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technicians and medical radiation technicians. He will then use his findings to develop an orientation program to help these groups adapt to the many dimensions of practising in the Canadian healthcare system.

"With increasing reliance on IEHPs to fill important gaps in the healthcare system comes a responsibility to ensure that these individuals are aware of the unique traditions and culture of Canadian society," Austin says. "This research will help us to identify where learning needs exist and will allow us to develop new educational programming to help IEHPs better meet the needs of Canadian patients and to more fully enculturate in the Canadian healthcare system."

The funding is part of an overall $18-million investment in the Internationally Educated Health Professionals Initiative, announced by Health Canada on Nov. 21. The program aims to reduce barriers so that a greater number of IEHPs can be assessed and integrated into the Canadian health-care system.

Austin is no stranger to the challenges facing IEHPs. In 2001 he established the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The bridging program helps internationally educated pharmacists transition their skills to Canadian practice standards. The curriculum focuses on therapeutics, communications skills, legal requirements and the Canadian healthcare system. Since its inception, more than 500 foreign-trained pharmacists have enrolled in the IPG program and 93 per cent have successfully gained Canadian licensure.

"Professor Austin has consistently demonstrated leadership in the area of inter-professional health environments and the challenges facing internationally educated healthcare practitioners," said pharmacy dean Wayne Hindmarsh. "This project is vital to the successful integration of much-needed professionals into the Canadian healthcare system."



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