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Door opener or waste of time? The effects of student internships on labor market outcomes

Bridging programs are designed for internationally educated immigrant professionals who have completed formal training in another country but who may not have the educational, professional or language requirements necessary to become licensed to practice in Canada. As Ontario’s population ages, the successful integration of internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) into the health care workforce has been identified as a strategy to address the challenges created by the shrinking labour pool and growing demands on the health care system (Finley & Hancock, 2010; Stuckey & Munro, 2013). To better understand the role of Ontario’s postsecondary system in facilitating the entry of IEHPs into the health care workforce, this study analyzed seven Canadian bridging programs and obtained input from 15 key informants. The goal of the evaluation was to identify the characteristics and practices of effective IEHP bridging programs. The specific research questions addressed by the evaluation were: 1. What are the expected outcomes of effective bridging programs and how should they be measured? 2. What are the key features that contribute to bridging program effectiveness? 3. What challenges do bridging programs face in achieving their goals? 4. What is the appropriate role of regulatory colleges, government, employers and professional associations in ensuring bridging program effectiveness?