Around this time last year, I had the pleasure of doing an international placement during my interprofessional year in the Midwifery Education Program. The placement I chose to do was a midwifery placement following American midwives in Upstate New York. I was able to follow home birth midwives and learn about certification and schooling in New York State. Although I was accustomed to practicing midwifery in Ontario where midwives practice in home and hospital, it was interesting to learn about regulations and politics surrounding midwifery in a different country. It was also nice to see midwives in other places providing well woman care for all ages and life cycles. Midwives in Ontario only provide care starting pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum so we only see our clients for a part of their lives.
If your program allows you the opportunity to do an international placement, I highly recommend it. It gives you a chance to learn how things are done somewhere else. In my case, I was able to learn what standards of care were similar and different, which made me analyze what practices are truly evidence-based. It deepened my understanding to affect my future practice. It also gave me the chance to witness aspects of care that I liked and did not like. This will contribute to the policies I would like to implement in Ontario. For example, seeing midwives in New York provide well woman care outside of pregnancy was an eye-opener to how midwives in Ontario could expand their scope. Thinking critically, such a policy change may assist the Ontario health care system address the shortage of family physicians.
If you are able to do an international placement, I recommend planning well in advance. There is a significant amount of paper work and time needed, especially if you need a VISA. These things can take months to process. Financial planning around placements also should be considered. You will need to think about how much transportation and accommodations will cost and if it is affordable. Part of the reason I selected Upstate New York was that I was able to drive there, which dramatically decreased expenses. Another aspect to consider is safety. Will the country you will be travelling to safe? Below is information from Ryerson International, which will help you prepare for establishing a placement.
MANDATORY PROCEDURES FOR OFF-CAMPUS ACADEMIC-RELATED ACTIVITIES:
All Ryerson students (both grad and undergrad) must undertake a number of steps prior to departure. The three mandatory steps are as follows:
- Travel Risk Assessment (TRA) – an online form that has the traveller identify the potential risks inherent in their activity and destination. This form is to be approved by the activity supervisor (such as an internship coordinator) or, in the case of high-risk or extreme-risk activities, the Dean or Provost. The form is available at http://www.ryerson.ca/cehsm/riskmgmt/inttravel.html.
- Liability Waiver – Student confirms that Ryerson has made him or her aware of the potential risks (through the TRA, as above) and take responsibility for them. This document is available from your internship coordinator and is kept on file in the academic unit. Access this form at http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/download/StudentLiabilityWaiver_Feb2010.pdf.
- Registration – Student provides Ryerson International with key emergency contact information in case of problems via online form at http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/students/ryerson_students/
- Pre-Departure Session – All outbound students participate in a pre-departure session covering travel preparation, travel safety and security and cultural acclimatization. RI conducts these several times per year, usually around the end of each month. This gives us the opportunity to ensure that students have some real practical travel information prior to departure. Information on upcoming sessions can be found at http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/students/ryerson_students/.
Students living abroad for an extended period of time are strongly urged to register with the ‘Registration of Canadians Abroad‘ service (ROCA), which gives DFAIT information on where Canadians abroad are staying, and where they can be found in case of local emergency.
Other Travel Resources:
See the Ryerson International website at for a variety of travel resources: http://www.ryerson.ca/ri/students/ryerson_students/index.html
Visit the Ryerson International office at 1 Dundas St. W., 11th Floor to access a variety of print information anytime between 9am and 5pm. Our collection includes a variety of Lonely Planet guides, country-specific resources and information on international work, study and travel.
Temporary work permit may be required for certain countries. We encourage you to research work permit requirements for the country you will intern in as early as possible to facilitate your internship work abroad.
Internships in the United States
If you are planning on arranging an internship in the United States, you must obtain a Temporary Work Visa also known as a J-1 visa.
To start the process of the J-1 visa application, you will first need to get a job offer from an employer in the U.S. A very small number of U.S. employers can assist their interns in obtaining the J-1 visa by also acting as a ‘sponsor’. The US Immigration Service distinguishes between ‘host’ and ‘sponsor’ – your employer is the former, but cannot usually act as the latter, a role reserved for a handful of providers. Check with your employer to see if this is a possibility.
The SWAP Program through Travel Cuts provides services to facilitate the visa process on your behalf, and has connections with an approved sponsor. Visit SWAP’s web site at http://www.swap.ca for information on U.S. internships, how to apply for your visa, required documentation, processing time and service fees.
The SWAP office will coordinate the administrative paperwork between your employer in the U.S. and U.S. immigration so you are able to get your J-1 visa in due time. The processing time to obtain a J-1 visa through SWAP program is normally 6-8 weeks, provided the information on the application form and the documentation submitted is complete.
For further information on the SWAP program, contact Ms. Brigit Hatsy who can be reached at
416-966-2887 Ext. 203 or BHatsy@swap.ca
For additional information at Ryerson, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.