Alternative Career Paths for Internationally Educated Health Professionals


The overall objective of this project is to provide internationally educated professionals with alternative career path options from traditional medical professions, such as physicians, surgeons, veterinarians, nurses and pharmacists, into related occupations within the Canadian bio-economy.

BioTalent Canada has previously developed a database of transferable skills for physicians, surgeons, nurses and veterinarians into 46 Canadian bio-economy occupations in Canada. BioTalent Canada will expand on this database to include transferable skills for pharmacists.

Additionally, BioTalent Canada will implement a referral system with immigrant serving agencies (ISAs) across Canada to help internationally educated medical specialists understand the alternative career paths options available to them within Canada in the event they are unable to practice their primary regulated occupation on arrival. This project can help IEPs keep their science skills up to date by identifying potentially transferrable skills for Canada’s bio-economy so they can gain valuable related experience while they wait to receive their license in their desired field. BioTalent Canada will recruit a career mentor to personally take referrals through the process of transitioning their skills. The career mentor will also provide them with career planning advice so they can most effectively build on the experience they developed in their regulated occupation from their home country and show how it is relevant to their alternative career identified through the transferrable skills program.

Project Announcements

Mission Fit

BioTalent Canada recently conducted a national statistically significant study of Canadian bio-economy companies from coast to coast (Sequencing the Data) to discover their greatest human resource (HR) challenges. From this study:

  • 33.2% of companies are experiencing skills shortages
  • 40% of companies state this has a great or major impact on achieving business objectives
  • But only 52.1% of companies have internationally trained professionals on staff (a decline of 6.7% from 2008

Of those companies that hired immigrants:

  • 51.8% improved innovation and/or problem solving on their teams
  • 43.4% improved company productivity
  • 28.9% increased access to foreign and/or domestic markets
  • 15.7% increased access to investors and/or venture capital

BioTalent Canada also conducted a national statistically significant study of recent immigrants to Canada (Talent Opportunities). From this study:

  • 56.8% of all immigrants surveyed were unemployed
  • Unemployment for those from clinical and pre-clinical research backgrounds ranged from 44.6% to 54.5%
  • The number one reason they came to Canada was the prospect of employment
  • The number one difficulty they face upon arrival in Canada is securing employment in their field


  1. Project Steering Committee of industry leaders and representative ISAs.
  2. Research and verify the transferrable skills of pharmacists and map them into bio-economy occupations in the online BioSkills Recognition Program.
  3. 250 internationally trained medical professionals registered in the BioSkills Recognition Program.
  4. 30 new employers registered to the database of biotech firms that use the BioSkills Match service.
  5. Contact at least 160 ISAs across Canada to participate in the referral program for internationally trained medical professionals
  6. A targeted marketing and communications plan directed at IEPs and biotech employers. A report on the success metrics identified in this plan will be required at the end of the project.
  7. An engagement plan for regulatory associations for physicians, surgeons, nurses, veterinarians and pharmacists.
  8. Testimonials from at least five bio-economy companies that are willing to employ IEPs.
  9. All public-facing products will be bilingual in French and English.


  1. Identify transferrable skills from Pharmacists to Bio-occupations and integrate into BioSkills Recognition Program.
  2. Development and implementation of a communications and engagement strategy.
  3. Ongoing Career mentor to support requests for assistance using the BioSkills Recognition Program.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program.