Sunday, September 15, 2013

Migrating via Student Visa - Part 1

In one of my previous posts, Vegabond had some questions about migrating to B.C., Canada, indirectly via the Student Visa route.
Vegabond wrote on Friday, August 30, 2013 12:06:00 AM:

Hi Winking Doll,
I have been following your blog ever since I chanced upon it from asingaporean son. Thanks for starting this blog :) I, too, am looking to move to BC however I do not qualified as a skilled worker. My local uni degree has little employability out of sg...haha. I'm interested to do a career switch into healthcare and is looking at some of the healthcare related programs in Canada. What is your insights on other allied health professionals in terms of jobs outlook/demand in Canada, how open is employers towards foreigners who graduated from Canadian schools, etc?
Vegabond wrote on Friday, August 30, 2013 12:14:00 AM: 
Appreciate if you could email me and share your opinions and advice about entering Canada via student visa route... Wishing u luck in finding your ideal job in BC! My email is [Email edited for privacy]

His/her questions cannot be answered in a single post, so I shall do this in a series. This is the first part. But first a declaration and disclaimer.

DECLARATION and DISCLAIMER: The following is my personal opinion. I am not any way qualified to give education and/or migration advice to anyone, and thus any content from me shall be construed as a sharing of personal opinion, not advice. I do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided by me. Under no circumstances will I or anyone related to this content be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from any reliance on the information or other content posted or linked by me.

The B.C. education scene is very lively. There are lots of paper mills. Many will promise you "take this or that course, this or that industry is short of skilled people" etc. What they do not inform you is the reality of the B.C. (and/or Canadian) job market. I shall cover the B.C. job market later in this series. 

Firstly, how to sort out the paper mills from the really "recognized" education centres? At the risk of offending a lot of BC graduates and holders of higher-education paper-qualifications, here are my 2 cents of opinion.

1. Go to publicly-funded and/or well-known post-secondary schools

These are listed on the Translink (public transport) website as follow. "Eleven post-secondary institutions in Metro Vancouver are eligible to participate in the program (University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, Langara College, Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Vancouver Community College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the Justice Institute of BC)."

Note: As far as I know, Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art & Design is not publicly-funded. It is private, but has a good reputation (see point 3 below). I do not know about Capilano University, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and the Justice Institute of BC -- I suspect some of these are not publicly-funded either.

IMHO, as a result of having to justify for funding from the government, the publicly-funded institutions have to ensure that their education/training programmes have some relevance and/or maintain acceptable standards.

2. Check is the website created to assist those exploring post-secondary education options in BC. You can search the website for programmes offered by the various education institutions.

3. Ask those in-the-know about informal ranking

I was told informally by various BC locals/residents of the following informal rankings.
  • For degree courses, UBC (University of British Columbia) has the best reputation (i.e. well-recognized across Canada, in USA and overseas). SFU (Simon Fraser University) also has cross-Canada and some international clout. I've been told by some that this is followed by BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) is behind BCIT in the reputation/prestige game. 
[Note: I did not have much of a choice of education institutions as CRNBC only recognized 2 institutional courses specifically catered to Graduate Nurses, Internationally Educated Re-entry. One was mainly classroom-based from KPU and the other was a mainly online-based course from Thomson Rivers University.]
  • For arts, animation and design, Emily Carr University of Art & Design is the place to be.
  • For community colleges, the top-ranking is VCC (Vancouver Community College). [Note: Be careful of copycats with sound alike names, e.g. VCC (Vancouver Career College), but of different reputation.] The next best is Langara College. Douglas College is ok, but definitely does not have the "oomph" of the preceding 2 publicly-funded colleges. One thing to be aware is that while community college qualifications are recognized throughout BC, I've been told that they do not carry the same prestige across Canada. Thus, the community college route is only recommended if one does not intend to leave BC and/or one intends to transfer/upgrade to other courses in the universities.
Ok, that's all for Part 1 - How to sort out the paper mills from the really "recognized" education centres?

  • Click here for Part 2 - Factors to consider when selecting an education programme for the purpose of immigration.
  • Click here for Part 3 - Odds and ends.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A migrant's story

On my way home today, I met my elderly neighbour B. B was standing near a busy traffic junction, watching the traffic whizzed-by. 

As I passed by, I smiled and greeted her, "Good evening" and that became the opening for B to share her migration story.

B came to Canada 50+ years ago and has lived around the same area since. She originated from a Eastern European country, and shared that she came to Canada alone, via Austria. Her mother gave her this advice before she left her home, "Work hard and try to fit in."

When B landed in Canada, she did not speak a word of English. She went to a nearby fruit-canning factory and quickly got a job on the factory lines. She picked up the skills required on-the-job, mostly through imitating her colleagues. Not long after, she attended night classes at a Vancouver college to learn English. Time flies, she met and married her husband (also of Slavic-origin, but a 2nd-generation Canadian); moved in with her in-laws; had 2 girls; and is now a grandmother living in a 3-generation household.

This evening, B was standing at the road junction, reminiscing how that area used to be all farms, fields and undeveloped patches, and remarking about the changes to the landscape over the decades. As we parted, she advised me, "Take things as they come."

Liar, liar, pants on fire

I confronted a friend for lying today, i.e. earlier on Monday evening. It's been cooking for some time (i.e. months) now as I usually try to give a person 3 chances. In this case, I've given way more than 3 chances.

As for the final straw that breaks the camel's back -- let's just say in short that it is not the wisest move to blatantly lie to your referee about the status of your job search, and whether or not you've had any job interview(s). Especially when your referee has been "casually" asking/prompting, "What? No news? Not even a job interview?" after you know you've attended job interview(s) where you've left that person's contact as your referee. E.g. I received an email request for reference on 30-Jul-2013.

I am really so disappointed. [Click here and here.] Considering the amount of effort I've poured into our friendship. Effort which is now rewarded by the "lack of trust" her actions betray. I could have helped the person on her next step of her career aspirations -- getting a job with a health authority -- but I would calmly exit from the relationship now since I know that she is fine, having landed several jobs, including one that gives her regular pay (thanks to the contact I passed along to her).

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Cancelled work-shift

Around noon last Friday, I received a missed call and a phone message from a nurse manager (who was covering for my nurse manager) that my Saturday work-shift has been cancelled with a message that, "Your manager JC is (currently) away and will be following up with you."

When I received the message, the first questions on my mind were if there was a change in my client's condition and/or some changes to the family's plan -- which are the most common reasons why work-shifts get cancelled for home health nursing. Then I remember that if a shift was cancelled for those reasons, the manager usually does not have to follow-up with the nurse.

Thus it got me wondering. That shift was with a particularly challenging client and I had been charting (i.e. writing down in the nursing notes) about my client's condition and our interactions. I guess my nurse manager wanted a discussion with me to gather how I feel about the issues/situation. I am actually looking forward to speak with my nurse manager to hear what she has to share.

I am generalizing here, but therein lies the difference between nursing in Singapore and nursing in B.C., Canada. In Singapore, when a nurse manager wants to speak with the nurse, it is often "bad news" or "blame fest". In Canada, I can expect that my views be heard and my needs attended to, even as a lowly cog in the work-wheel.


[Update on Tue 10-Sep-2013]

I've spoken with my nurse manager today. I will be taken off this client's case and re-assigned to other cases. I am so thankful for the support from my nurse manager and others from the company.

SG Nursing Board - To be or not to be?

I received the renewal letter for my registration renewal with the Singapore Nursing Board recently. 

[SNB letter sent to my Canadian postal address]

Previously, I have maintained my Singapore nursing registration (just in case I need a Plan B) while working towards my Canadian (i.e. British Columbia) nursing registration. Now that I've obtained my B.C. nursing licence, the question is whether to continue with my Singapore registration.

I do not see myself returning to nursing in Singapore, given the very different work and/or nursing culture there. [IMHO, it is a rather inhumane and inequitable work culture. Click here to see what FrugalIntrovert wrote about the Singapore work and lifestyle norms.]

That said, it is hard to give up on one's roots. Similarly, on the issue of "to be or not to be a Singapore citizen" -- as per my comments on ASingaporeanSon's blog entry.