Doctors Nova Scotia to expand upon physician’s mentorship program

Dr. Emmanuel Ajuwon (left) has taken his own initiative to offer mentoring to other international medical graduates (IMGs) like Dr. Stephanie Ofoegbu (right). Courtesy: Dr. Emmanuel Ajuwon and Dr. Stephanie Ofoegbu

After seeing the success of one physician’s initiative to mentor international doctors who come to Nova Scotia, Doctors Nova Scotia is working to develop its own initiative.

Dr. Emmanuel Ajuwon has taken the lead to help recruits get settled in because he knows there can be many adjustments, both personally and professionally, when relocating to another continent.

He’s been a doctor for more than 22 years after graduating from university in Nigeria before moving on to the U.K. to complete post-graduate studies. But he eventually found himself in New Waterford, N.S., and hasn’t looked back.

“It was supposed to be just a site visit but a site visit ended up being a stay,” he tells Global News. “It was supposed to be a stay for one year, but it ended up being a stay for eight years and counting.”

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But with that experience, he’s now paying it back to other new recruits who might be following similar paths.

“I just decided to make myself available and offer my time to actually show them the ropes and guide them on what I have passed through — which they might pass through — and how to navigate those challenges,” he says, “and to let them know that when they are going through issues that feels kind of overwhelming, they always have a support that they can reach out to.”

International medical graduates (IMGs) need to meet several requirements before being able to practise medicine in Canada. That’s where Ajuwon wanted to help, both personally and professionally.

Dr. Stephanie Ofoegbu, who is also from Nigeria, wanted to move to Canada to provide a better life for her family. She came to Cape Breton in September of last year through Nova Scotia’s Practice Ready Assessment Program, and says she’s greatly benefited from Ajuwon’s support.

“He knows what we went through and what we’re going through because he went through it with his own family and it really does help that we have him to go to,” she says from the collaborative care clinic in New Waterford. “It’s a family here and it has really, really helped.

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“But like I would always say, there’s room for a lot more; we need more doctors.”

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Doctors Nova Scotia told Global News Monday the organization is in the process of creating its own mentorship program after seeing the success of Ajuwon’s work.

A spokesperson says IMGs can go through other pathways to get assistance and ensure they’ve got the required certifications to work in Canada, but making a one-on-one mentorship program available to those who want it would be beneficial.

Ajuwon says the work is helping to recruit and retain physicians, but that more needs to be done. He’s proposing a task force be set up to ensure all new physicians have someone to check in with, and to ensure doctors’ families are assisted when possible in getting settled into their new community.

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