New Policy Recommendations Address Pathways to Licensure for Ontario’s Underemployed Internationally Trained Physicians

TORONTO, Jan. 09, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- World Education Services (WES) and Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO) today announced the release of a policy paper calling for implementation of three measures to ensure that internationally trained physicians in Ontario can put their skills to work. These measures include:

  1. Implementation at scale of Practice Ready Assessment (PRA) for internationally trained physicians (ITPs)
  2. Expanded access to medical residency training for ITPs
  3. The establishment of pathways for ITPs to practice as Clinical Assistants (CA) under a defined class of registration with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)

The WES/ITPO brief, Expanding Pathways to Licensure for Internationally Trained Physicians in Ontario: How to Get There and Why It Matters, arrives at a critical moment. A December 2022 Environics Research poll found that almost 80 percent of Ontarians viewed the province’s health care system as “in crisis.” Many health care professionals working within Ontario’s healthcare system describe it as broken. Others are suffering from burnout and plan to leave the profession. Meanwhile, a large talent pool of internationally trained physicians in Ontario is unable to work due to very limited access to appropriate pathways to licensure.

The WES/ITPO brief looks at the current health care crisis in Ontario and offers viable policy options which, if implemented at appropriate scale, will break down the systemic barriers that block ITPs from putting their skills to work.

“The policies described in the report lay out actionable and proven solutions that will help to ensure Ontarians are able to get the health care they need,” said Shamira Madhany, Managing Director of WES Canada. “Stakeholders must come together to transform the health care system. The three practical measures that ITPO and WES recommend will help to address the healthcare workforce crisis in the near term and in the future. They will also ensure that the valuable skills of immigrant physicians are not wasted.”

Makini McGuire, an internationally trained physician, member of ITPO, and contributor to the paper, added, “These measures are actionable and achievable, and will, if implemented in scalable and sustainable ways, pay dividends in both the short and the long term. What is needed is the collective will to achieve them.”

The joint policy brief identifies multiple benefits if these three measures are implemented: improved patient health and well-being; better use of health human resources; a reduction in the persistent underutilization of ITP medical skills; enhanced equity in health care delivery; and significant health cost savings.

Quick facts:

  • More than 1.3 million Ontarians do not have access to a family doctor.
  • More than three million Ontarians could be without family doctors by 2025, according to a recent study that focused on Ontario Health Insurance Plan records.
  • Thousands of physicians have immigrated to Canada in recent years and continue to face systemic barriers to professional registration and re-entry into their occupations. Between 2015 and 2021, 2,270 new permanent residents to Ontario identified their intended occupation to be either a primary physician or a specialist physician. More than 3,600 have become permanent residents through the Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs since 2015.
  • The Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario group surveyed their members and 60% indicated they had more than 3 years of clinical experience abroad, 20% had more than 10 years of clinical experience. The majority 56% of survey respondents had experience working in family medicine.

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About World Education Services (WES)

World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential evaluation. Through WES Global Talent Bridge, the organization joins with institutional partners, community-based organizations, and policymakers to help immigrants and refugees who hold international credentials fully utilize their talents and education to achieve their academic and professional goals. Through its grantmaking, impact investing, and partnerships, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund seeks to advance economic and social inclusion for immigrants and refugees.

About Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO)

Internationally Trained Physicians of Ontario (ITPO) aspires to provide internationally trained physicians (ITPs) and international medical graduates (IMGs) opportunities to make a comprehensive contribution to the Canadian Healthcare System. In line with the Canadian principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, we strive to leverage the skills and expertise of ITPs to ensure access to high standard medical care for all Canadians wherever they live.