A desire to practise nursing in another setting and to access more nurse training opportunities compelled Anounoune Victor to move to Canada from Haiti in 2015. After settling in Ontario, she knew that to build on her 10 years of nursing experience, she would have to better understand nursing workplaces in the province.

Workplace Communication Skills for Health Care Alumni Anounoune Victor

Anounoune Victor

“Now I have a better understanding of the health care system and the language skills needed to work in the field, so l feel much more comfortable about practising nursing in Canada.”

What helped Victor find her way was a course called Workplace Communication Skills for Health Care. This free course helps newcomers understand the workplace culture of health care settings such as clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and community agencies. As well, participants develop language skills to communicate effectively in health care roles, and learn how to build their careers in health care. Offered at many Ontario colleges, this 180-hour course is for immigrants with training or experience in dental hygiene, medical laboratory technology, medical radiation technology, nursing, personal support work and sleep technology.

Victor took the course last year at Niagara College and received practical, relevant training in how to interact clearly and effectively with colleagues, patients and supervisors. She learned how to communicate verbally at work, including when speaking face to face with others, talking on the phone or delivering presentations. She also developed the skills to write emails and reports. The instruction also covered some common medical terminology for completing patient records and other medical documents.

“I learned how to introduce myself to patients, leave voice messages and interact with doctors. It was all very interesting and useful,” Victor says.

The course also focused on making participants more employable in health care by equipping them with skills to connect with employers, find work and advance their careers. Victor learned about the range of health care organizations where she might find work, and industry associations and other resources to help her advance her career. She also gained a better understanding of how to create an effective resumé and cover letters.

What Victor found especially helpful were the ongoing opportunities to practise newly learned skills through exercises such as mock job interviews and role-plays of common workplace communication scenarios. She also appreciated the opportunity to observe a health-care workplace first hand through an organized tour of St. Catharines General Hospital. Another highlight was building connections with her classmates — international health-care professionals from countries such as Colombia, Congo and the Philippines who have since become part of her professional network.

The course Victor completed is part of Occupation-specific Language Training, a series of workplace communication training courses for immigrants with training or experience in business, construction, health sciences, human services or technology. Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and coordinated by Colleges Ontario, these courses are offered full time, part time or online at 13 Ontario colleges.

Victor is now working to become licensed to practise nursing in Ontario, and is planning to enrol in a nursing bridging program. She currently works as a personal support worker for the March of Dimes, and she’s keen to apply her OSLT training to restart her nursing career.

“Now I have a better understanding of the health care system and the language skills needed to work in the field, so l feel much more comfortable about practising nursing in Canada.”

By Sharon Aschaiek

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