CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Medical students enjoy healthy job market

By Aprille Janes
Special to The Toronto Sun

If you're part of the double cohort and you've secured your spot in a post- secondary classroom, you must be wondering what will happen when everyone graduates. The same stiff competition going in faces you at the other end of your academic life. Will there be enough jobs to go around?

If you've chosen training in the health professions, you and your fellow graduates will be in good shape.

"Steer towards any specialty. You'll be in demand," says Ken Marskell of Health Careers Canada, which hosts job fairs throughout the year.

And if you're already working in the health-care field, job opportunities abound -- especially if you keep your skills and education up to date.

Today, vacant positions outnumber the available qualified personnel to fill them. Human Resources Development Canada doesn't see that trend changing. In fact, employment prospects in most specialties are rated as good through to 2007.

"Demand has increased because our growing and aging population requires more health services," says the HRDC Web site. Demand has also increased because of "the growing number of long-term care facilities for people with chronic illnesses.

"Technology advances have improved the ability to diagnose and treat diseases while Canadians have insurance to cover more services."
How heart-smart are you?
Everyone knows February is home to the holiday for lovers, when, on the 14th of the month, Valentines everywhere follow their hearts' desires. But when it comes to matters of the heart, how many actually think beyond romance?
February is also National Heart Month.
At the crux of this month-long national awareness campaign is the message that maintaining an active lifestyle is essential to living a long, healthy life.
Any kind of physical activity can be good for your health, as long as you do it safely. To get the most out of being physically active, choose a variety of activities each week that will increase your endurance, flexibility and strength.
Endurance activities help your heart, lungs and circulatory system stay healthy and give you more energy. Walking, biking, dancing and tennis are some examples of endurance activities.
Flexibility activities help you to move easily. These activities include gentle reaching, bending and stretching of all your muscle groups. Gardening, mopping the floor and stretching exercises are different types of flexibility activities.
Strength activities help your muscles and bones stay strong and improve your posture. Strength activities make you work your muscles against some kind of resistance, like when you push or pull hard to open a heavy door. A few ways to increase your strength activities are climbing stairs, raking and carrying leaves and doing exercises like push-ups.
Most adults should have a total of at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Moderate activity means any activity that makes you breathe faster than normal, but still lets you talk easily. If you choose less strenuous activities, you should aim for 60 minutes every day.
Then, as you progress to more intense activities, you can cut down to 30 minutes. You don't have to do 30 or 60 minutes of activity all at once. You can add up your activities during the day. For greatest benefit, though, each period of activity should be at least 10 minutes long.
How to become more active:
  • Think about why you are not more active.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of being inactive.
  • Plan how to fit more activity into your routine.
  • Think about whether you want to be more active alone or with others.
  • Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Reward yourself.
  • Adjust your goals if necessary.
  • Tell yourself you can do it.
  • Apply knowledge from past successes.
  • Remember your reasons for becoming active.

    -- Health Canada

  • For example, pharmacists are in high demand in both hospitals and private pharmacies. HRDC notes that "increased funding for pharmaceutical research has created many new drug products."

    Therapists and assessment professionals are seeing more clients, partly because of increased coverage by private insurance companies, and also because of advances in treatments. The need for therapists will only increase as the population ages.

    Nurses and doctors are in huge demand across every sector, particularly in rural areas, which frequently offer incentives to attract health-care providers to their communities.

    Other health-care workers are finding the same story in their own specialties. The need for qualified people is increasing as the current job force reaches retirement age, aggressive recruitment continues from outside of Canada and the number of graduates to fill positions declines.

    With all this choice, where does a job-seeker begin?

    "Word of mouth and the Web sites of professional associations are a good source for job leads," says audiologist Shira Miller.

    A Web search on any large search engine, such as Google, will help you locate the association for your field. If the association doesn't list job opportunities on the site, find its contact information and place a call.

    "There has been a big switch from public to private employment," Miller adds.

    "Hospital jobs are less common, while private practice and contract work is becoming more prevalent. Personally, I like the flexibility and lack of bureaucracy I find in private practice."

    Another excellent avenue for finding the right position is a job fair. Health Careers Canada hosts a number of these events each year, including an upcoming one in Toronto on May 8 and 9 at the Sheraton Centre (visit for more information).

    "Job fairs give people a chance to explore many opportunities. They can compare and study their choices," Marskell says.

    "Don't just look at salaries," he adds. "Ask about the ongoing educational opportunities. This is a big one, because staying up to date in your field will be crucial to your career. Check out benefits and ask about relocation incentives and bonuses."

    Job fairs let you do this all in one place.

    "You can develop a network and find out about unique job opportunities. You may even hear about something coming in the future, which allows you to make plans."

    "You get your questions answered right away. And nothing beats the chemistry of meeting recruiters face to face."

    Marskell offers this final advice for graduates and people already working in the health care industry. "Talk to your friends about your career and its rewards. Replace yourself."

    With the industry's growth and society's demands, there's room for everyone.

    (Aprille Janes ( is a freelance writer based in Port Perry, Ont.)

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