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Optometrists: Skills development in Canada

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Man pointing at skills sign

Canadian employers put a high emphasis on soft skills, which are personal attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike your technical or hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.

Soft skills, such as active listening, effective written and verbal communication, and critical thinking are important for optometrists.  Patients expect you to listen to them to understand their needs and concerns. You are also expected to understand charts and write clear prescriptions.

If you are working with a team of vision professionals, strong interpersonal skills and team work are a necessity and everyone involved must work as a unit to effectively assess the needs and treatment options of every patient.

If you plan to have a private practice, you need to have good business skills, such as hiring staff and record keeping, and have knowledge of Canadian insurance plans and regulations.

If your hard skills will get you an interview, most probably it is your soft skills that will get you the job and enable you to keep it afterwards.

Though not a must, but upgrading your education and skills through a bridging program or other educational courses and workshops may be an important part of your journey to become a successful architect in Canada.

Download Nick Noorani’s “9 Soft Skills No Immigrant Should Be Without!”

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Skills upgrading

You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterwards. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regards to your communication skills and team dynamics.

Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is extremely important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on learning or improving English or French will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.

You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) through the school boards or settlement agencies. There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as Enhanced Language Training (ELT) and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT).

If you already speak one of Canada’s two official languages at a high level, learning the other one is a good option, as it may offer you more employment opportunities.

Education

Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D or MBA. Universities and colleges across Canada offer a number of bridging programs designed to help immigrants get Canadian certification in their field.

ACCC member colleges and institutes across Canada have a long history of helping newcomers transition into the Canadian economy by offering occupation specific bridging programs, language training and other supports. In this short video, ACCC members talk about their services and the Association’s pre-arrival support program, CIIP.

Bridging programs

Bridging programs are a good way to transition from your international experience and training to the Canadian workplace. Many colleges, universities and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs or workshops for newcomers. You may be eligible for one.

Note that the only bridging program for optometry is offered at the University of Waterloo. If you’re planning to live and settle elsewhere in Canada, you need think about the fact that you need to live in Waterloo, Ontario for the duration of the program. Therefore, you may need to make some special arrangements for you and/or your family.

Ontario:

University of Waterloo
International Optometric Bridging Program
This program helps internationally trained optometrists get licensed and find employment in their field. Participants receive academic, occupation-specific language training, workplace culture and communication training and the opportunity for clinical placements.
Phone: +1-519-888-4567, ext. 37882
E-mail: [email protected]

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