This post is by Fabiana Bacchini:
Six years of medical school, three years of residency, four years of a Master’s Degree, five years of work experience and her credentials were not enough once she moved to Canada. Andreia Scalco, 39 years old, like many other foreign trained doctors, had to apply for residency to get her license from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to be able to be recognized and work as a doctor here.
“I had an idea about how to get the license because my sister had gone through the same route a few years before. However, everything had changed when my husband and I arrived in 2004”, explains Andreia.
Our Brilliant Woman of the Week considered giving up once she found out the residency would take her another three to four years after she was selected. However, her husband who is also a doctor liked the quality of life this country provides.
Andreia decided to stay and pursue her career. To start: two English exams and one in general medicine. Other prerequisites necessary in order to apply for a residency included: a practical exam, a theory exam, resume analysis and an interview. Many other exams were necessary along the way.
“The process is frustrating because it is not based on the individual doctor’s knowledge. It’s based on what everybody does. Besides, you have to take into account the culture shock and the language barrier”, she tells us. “My English was very good, but the terms and expressions used in the field were different. It took me some time to become familiar and comfortable with the language”.
After one year of hard work, Andreia was accepted and began her residency at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Her efforts were soon recognized and Andreia landed her first job as a doctor at McMaster where she ended up working for two years.
“It was great because usually immigrant doctors are sent to an under serviced area to work for five years before getting a job in the main cities”, she explains.
In 2011, Andreia started to work at Women’sCollege Hospital inToronto, where her focus is on psycho-oncology. Her work is to support patients with cancer.
The perseverance and recognition
Even though Andreia feels that there is a certain ‘distrust’ at the work place when it comes to foreign doctors, she doesn’t regret staying in Canada.
“It is easier to raise a family here. Besides, the work hours are respected, the salary is better, there are good public schools, public health care and it is safer”, she adds.
Dr. Scalco told us that it is not easy to enter the system and gave us a great lesson of perseverance and humility: “you have to become the student again and also do a lot of work on yourself”, she explains. This is possibly the formula for her success.
We asked for her advice for the new immigrant doctors arriving in Canada and she confidently said: “you have to be aware that it is a long and hard process. It is a great idea to do a lot of research and do a fellowship to make sure this is what you want. Patience and perseverance are the key ingredients because it all pays off in the end”, she concludes.
Dr. Andreia Scalco is a psychiatrist. She works and lives in Toronto with her husband and her two beautiful daughters Isabela and Bianca.