Alberta is looking to implement more programs for internationally educated health care workers to supplement shortages in its current system. The initiative comes a week after the federal government’s announcement to give $86 million in funding to the healthcare industry to deal with shortages and help with health professional accreditation. In 2023, the Alberta government gave NorQuest College in Edmonton funding for its international program to help students such as Rudo Mapanga, who came to Alberta with a nursing degree from Zimbabwe and a PhD from South Africa — but was considered ineligible to work in the industry in Canada. Mapanga told Global News she enrolled in the Practical Nurse Diploma for Internationally Educated Students at the college and found “the approach is more or less the same but in this case we are learning things which are more relevant to the Canadian context.”Prior to the provincial government subsidy, NorQuest admitted 50 students. It now has 250 seats. Ayshea Thornton, the academic program manager at NorQuest, told the publication programs such as this one gives international health care workers “the orientation” and “experience” to practice in Canada. “It credentials them as well so they get a diploma in practical nursing at the end,” Thornton said. “Then they’re able to get out into the healthcare workforce again.”“Students in the program are really interested in working in rural nursing as well. So those gaps that we’re seeing in rural healthcare when it comes to the nursing workforce, our population of students are supported in being recruited and hired into those rural spaces,” Thornton said.Thornton pointed out internationally educated health care workers bring diverse medical background knowledge to the classroom and workplace, and the program gives workers more options to specialize. “The real benefit of getting a credential and a diploma at the end of our program is that you’re able to ladder into other programs and post secondaries. If a student chooses to continue on and do a degree in nursing (and get their) registered nursing degree, they’re able to go to another post-secondary to do that,” she said.