Health care is evolving rapidly, and Canada is facing significant gaps and shortages from an overburdened system. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the number of people interested in meaningful jobs in health care — many of whom are internationally educated professionals looking to enter Canada’s vast health care sector.
True to its mission since 1958, The Michener Institute of Education at UHN is helping support our health care system by creating the right programs at the right time. Starting in September 2023, Michener will offer a new program to prepare learners for a new career path in health care or further health education, as well as meet current and anticipated health human resource shortages.
Michener’s Fundamentals of Health Care diploma program offers learners a self-paced, flexible and fully customizable program to explore and prepare them for careers across the health care spectrum. Whether graduates intend to work in a health care setting or enroll in further health education, this program provides pathways to a multitude of possibilities.
“The idea for this program started around a year ago during conversations with Michener’s Principal, Harvey Weingarten, about changes in immigration law and how we might be able to offer a temporary work permit for internationally educated students,” says Joy Richards, Vice President of Health Education Development at University Health Network (UHN) and Executive in Residence at Michener. “That got Harvey thinking and he raised the idea of what if we created this Fundamentals of Health Care program that was targeted at meeting the health system needs we don’t even know we have yet?”
“As much as we’re recruiting and focusing on retaining the talented staff we have, we’re likely not going to be able to completely recruit our way out of this staff shortage,” says Pam Hubley, Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive at UHN. “This new program will allow us to get creative and think about where there are new opportunities to fill some of those gaps. Graduates from this program may move into newly created roles that capitalize on emerging technologies, provide infrastructure or support to providers or roles that support navigation through the complex health system.”
As Canada’s only “school within a hospital” dedicated exclusively to health care education, Michener offers programs that are informed by industry research and innovations, giving graduates an advantage. Michener faculty are experienced health care professionals who rely on flexible learning formats for their courses.
“Keeping up with rapid change in health care requires new options for students and Michener has a long history of innovative programming to prepare graduates for jobs in health care,” says Harvey Weingarten. “This program will help fill the current and anticipated serious staffing shortages in our health care system.”
While many colleges and universities offer a general entry program that allows learners to obtain an initial degree in a specific field and the background knowledge to progress into more advanced levels of education, many of Michener’s programs require applicants to have already completed a bachelor’s degree.
“Another part of the motivation for developing this program was that it can serve as Michener’s own type of entry program that brings in students who have completed a high school diploma, or have immigrated to Canada, and introduce them to the field of health care,” says Brian Hodges, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President for Education at UHN.
The Fundamentals of Health Care program can be taken full or part time and includes the option for students to participate in an apprenticeship at UHN, shadowing different departments to gain a sense of how a hospital and the overall health care system operates.
“UHN has a long history of hosting apprenticeships and clinical placements, and so far, we’ve had four programs express interest in having Fundamentals of Health Care students join them in this capacity,” says Joy.
“We have a real desire for our clinical UHN team to work in partnership with Michener to cultivate a learning environment that capitalizes on the academic program, as well as the clinical environment,” says Pam. “Our goal is that this program will turn out graduates who have a good understanding of the Canadian health system, knowledge around emerging trends in health care and understand how to work effectively in a team environment.”