St. Michael’s Hospital: 2009 IS Award Winner: Toronto Star Award for Excellence in Workplace Integration

Many organizations welcome interns, but few embrace and embed the idea as fully as St. Michael’s Hospital. For six years, the hospital has worked closely with Career Bridge’s paid internship program to recruit skilled immigrants, and to date, thirty five have completed full-time internships.

The partnership began through the leadership and support of John King, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, who dedicates part of his department’s budget to bringing six to eight interns on board each year.

“At first, our goal was to reflect the diverse urban community that we serve,” says King. “Now, with all that interns have contributed, Career Bridge is an important partner in finding new talent for special projects and our ongoing operations.”

“St. Michael’s has demonstrated a strong commitment to workplace integration through the implementation of proactive, strategic recruitment and hiring initiatives, including Career Bridge paid internships, for attracting and retaining internationally qualified professionals on a long term basis,” notes Anne Lamont, President and CEO of Career Edge Organization.

Originally introduced in one area at the hospital, Career Bridge has spread to eight departments. The influence of the program has increased, and a full time position responsible for integrating skilled immigrants into the organization has been created by Sylvia Halliday, Vice President Human Resources.

The role of Specialist, Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) is dedicated to building and expanding current strategies to source, recruit, and support IEPs at St. Michael’s Hospital.

A formal orientation guide was developed for managers and coaches, who also participate in mandatory sessions to understand the intern’s unique perspective. Career coaching is provided, and current and former interns stay in touch through the St. Michael’s Career Bridge Networking Group.

“I was a new immigrant to Canada two years ago, and an intern for one year before being hired full time,” says Libo He, Web Developer at the hospital. “St. Michael’s gives opportunities to newcomers, and provides resources for interns and alumni.”

Future initiatives include development of “Advancing Your Career in the Canadian Workplace” and “Working with Internationally Trained Professionals – Culture and Cultural Differences” workshops to enhance the experience for both intern and employer.