New Immigrant Health Professional’s Individual, Societal and Economic Impact of Ryerson University’s Internationally Trained Medical Doctors (ITMDs) Bridging Program: Results from a Pilot Bridge Training Program at the Chang School of Continuing Education


  • Shafi U. Bhuiyan Ryerson University[1], U of T [2]



ITMDs Capacity building, non-licensed employment, social and economic Impact, New Immigrant health professional, Ontario


Although Canada is home to a large number of internationally educated health professionals, their skills and experiences are grossly underutilized in the Canadian healthcare landscape. Barriers to medical practice are pervasive, and as a result the majority of internationally trained medical doctors (ITMDs) work in “survival” jobs significantly below their skill level. The pilot ITMD Bridging Program was developed to provide an alternative path for ITMDs by providing the skills and competencies required for non-licensed health sector employment, ultimately aiming to improve integration of ITMDs into the Canadian workforce. This secondary research evaluates the ITMD Bridging Program by assessing the impact of the program at both individual and societal levels.

Qualitative and quantitative data were used to evaluate the individual and societal impact of the program. Secondary data from participants’ entry and exit surveys, as well as key informant interviews conducted with ITMDs upon program completion were used for the analysis.  The economic impact of the program and its overall utility to the economy of Ontario were assessed through literature review and social rate of return analysis.

ITMDs program participants reported substantial improvements in skills related each of the core courses including health research methods, health informatics and data management, fundamentals of project management, as well as healthcare professionals communication and leadership skills.  ITMDs also perceived the program to be a viable option to address human potential waste, enhance the economy, develop individual capacity building, and alleviate frustrations associated with labour market exclusion.  The program is also economically viable at the societal level, and represents a rate of return of 6.52%.

The ITMD Bridging Program has demonstrated that providing non-licensed health sector employment is a viable option for policymakers to consider in their efforts to address the current brain waste in the Ontario healthcare sector. Bridging programs similar to the ITMD Bridging Program have the capacity to impact individual outcomes of ITMDs, the economic landscape in Ontario, and Canada at large. 

Author Biography

Shafi U. Bhuiyan, Ryerson University[1], U of T [2]

Dr. Shafi Bhuiyan is an Adjunct [former distinguished visiting scholar] Professor, School of Occupational and Public Health, and Co-founder /leader of the Internationally Trained Medical Doctors (ITMD) bridging program at the Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University. Since 2012, he has also been a faculty member of global public health at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. In addition to his academic appointments, Shafi is an internationally-recognized leader on improving maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) and on the empowerment of women through MCH Handbook. Bhuiyan received his MD degree from the University of Dhaka, an MPH from Mahidol University in Thailand, a PhD in Global Human Sciences from Osaka University, in Japan and an MBA in global health management from TRSM Ryerson University, Canada. He is a founding board member of the International Committee on MCH Handbook at Osaka University, board treasurer & co-chair of the capacity building committee of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, and is actively associated with the Canadian partnership for women and children’s health. 


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