The Study-Migration Pathway: Understanding the Factors that Influence the Employment and Retention of International Students as Regulated Health Professionals in Canada

Integrating international students to Canada is increasingly being seen as a promising immigration strategy for addressing growing labour market gaps. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2012) has implemented policies and programs to encourage international students graduating from Canadian universities to remain and settle in Canada. Through increasing the number of international students, it is anticipated that Canada will have access to a pool of highly employable immigrants, educated to Canadian standards, with advanced English and/or French language skills who bring social and cultural diversity to Canadian society (Hawthorne & To, 2012).

International students in the regulated health professions are a particularly unique group to examine. Many international students enrolled in the health professions (medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy) encompass these attributes and are likely to be attractive to Canadian employers (Belkhodja, 2011). Little is known, however, about the study-migration pathway of international students in health profession programs. Gaining a more in depth understanding of the study-migration pathway for international students in the regulated health professions may assist Canada with filling the gaps in the healthcare workforce with some of the brightest and most talented newly educated health professionals available globally.

The purpose of this project is to explore the study-migration pathway for international students studying to become regulated health professions in Canada. The research questions were:

  1. What attributes predict if an international student studying a health profession is well suited for the Canadian labour market?
  2. What factors discourage or motivate international students in the regulated health professions to remain and settle in Canada?
  3. What type of educational and social programs and policies are in place to assist international students who want to become landed immigrants and pursue full-time employment in Canada?