Fraser Health's James Nielsen presents to council about Fraser Health's recruitment efforts

Fraser Health recruitment presentation reveals challenges hiring foreign professionals

Fraser Health informed council about recruitment efforts in Hope at the Oct. 24 council meeting.

Fraser Health’s recruitment services managing consultant James Nielsen informed council about recruitment efforts in Hope at the Oct. 24 council meeting.

Presenting as a delegation, Nielsen noted their marketing efforts centred on sharing the stories of staff working in Hope.

Their recruitment efforts asked local staff what brought them out here and what kept them out here.

“Most often, what we heard was the amount of surprise and how much Hope had to offer whether it’s the skiing, the lake activities or otherwise the quality of life,” said Nielsen.

They also used videos from AdvantageHOPE to help market Hope, and are redesigning their website to allow people to find specific jobs and learn more about Fraser Health’s communities.

They also have recruitment efforts throughout North America.

“I was quite surprised when two individuals came to talk to me about coming to Hope,” said Nielsen. “One of them was from Louisiana, and the other individual was from northern California. It shows how compelling the local visual and imagery is and how effective it is in recruiting in the area and building awareness.”

Responding to Coun. Donna Kropp’s and Coun. Bob Erickson’s questions about how Fraser Health hires foreign doctors, Nielsen said Fraser Health can hire foreign doctors through the provincial nominee program, or Labour Market Impact Assessment or NAFTA professional work visa.

Simply put, the three avenues Nielsen listed allows a professional to enter Canada through a provincial, federal or international scheme, respectively.

Fraser Health will guide candidates through the immigration process, but Nielsen noted the bigger challenge for health professionals with foreign credentials is getting a Canadian licence to practise.

“Even from the U.S., substantially similar health markets, there would be a little bit more of a challenge, … in terms of the duration for the assessment that occurs with each of the colleges,” said Nielsen.

Coun. Bob Erickson noted that his son, who graduated from medical school in the United States, had to do many exams, even the simple ones.

“They’re expensive, and huge hurdles,” said Erickson, who asked whether Fraser Health has any ability to influence the licensing process.

Nielsen replied that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia sets the standards for licensing, and Fraser Health can only try to influence them.

Mayor Wilfried Vicktor noted that people who stayed overnight in Hope would develop a favourable attitude towards Hope “90 per cent of the time”. He asked Nielsen whether Fraser Health could put them up for an overnight experience.

Nielsen replied that potential candidates would get a tour of the community and workplace for a few hours.

Responding to a question from Coun. Donna Kropp about staffing levels, Nielsen said Fraser Health has seven or eight vacancies in this region, compounded by a turnover of around 12 per year.

“But oftentimes the positions are filled by people that are either already here, or have the opportunity to go from, for example, an on-call status into a full-time or part-time position,” replied Nielsen.

In a separate interview, local health service area director Petra Pardy noted that the eastern Fraser Valley faces  recruitment challenges, naming physiotherapy and nursing as examples, where qualified candidates are scarce.