Alternative Career Pathways (ACPs)

What is alternative career pathway (ACP)?

Alternative career pathways are the potential non-physician career pathways that make use of and relate to IMGs’ skills and experience.

Alternative careers may include certain health and wellness related jobs that employ health-related knowledge and clinical skills to various extent. However, other alternative jobs may only utilize interpersonal and patient communication skills as well as critical thinking and analytical skills. 

Why IMGs want to choose an ACP?

Virtually all IMGs come to Canada with the goal of practicing medicine. However, the pathway to licensure may be perceived as challenging and uncertain for many IMGs due to limited residency spots, exhausting licensing exams, long licensing process, and personal issues such as family responsibilities, financial instability, or other perceived barriers. Others may have no interest to pursue licensure from the beginning, have given up after hitting a stumbling block in the pursuit of licensure or have an ACP background from back home. Some take ACP as an interim step as they prepare for the licensure. For these reasons, many IMGs incline to go for non-physician health and wellness related jobs where their knowledge can be utilized, and skills can be transferred. 

Despite all efforts, many IMGs, unfortunately, cannot obtain the residency position and practice as a physician in Canada. Many of them end up working in regular low paying jobs that do not require any health-related knowledge and skills. This underemployment and underutilization of highly skilled IMGs creates a financial burden on both the IMGs themselves and Canada a substantial ‘brain waste’ for Canada.

What factors to consider for pursuing an ACP? 

There are hundreds of potential ACPs out there. The choice of ACP is a mix of an IMG’s transferable skills, own interest, and the expected outcomes from a particular ACP. Many ACPs can be pursued readily without further training and education and a number of ACPs require institutional training, certification, or degrees. The preparation for some ACP may take less than 6 months while others may need 3-5 years of investment. So, jobs are part-time and or fixed schedule jobs others may need to work in the evenings/nights or on the weekend. The job market for these professions may vary widely often depending on the current economic situation.