• Carl Diaz

    Fulfilling His Purpose

    Portrait of Carl Diaz.
    Carl Diaz
    Academic Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) Graduate Certificate Graduate

    Internationally-educated nurse pursues a Canadian career through George Brown courses

    As a registered practical nurse (RPN), Philippines native Carl Diaz is passionate about helping others. George Brown College’s innovative graduate nursing certificate allowed him to answer his calling in Canada.

    “It’s a privilege to be in a field where you have the opportunity to save lives – to care for others, to be with others in times of low moments, in times of sickness,” he explains. “George Brown gave me the opportunity to really delve into the Canadian stream of nursing.”

    Carl works in the Complex Continuing Care Unit at Toronto’s Baycrest hospital. After working as a registered nurse in both the Philippines and the Middle East, he came to Canada in 2009 under a caregiver’s work permit and quickly decided he wanted to stay and practise his trained profession. As the College of Nurses of Ontario requires Canadian coursework to be added to international credentials, Carl turned to Continuing Education at George Brown. In 2014, he completed the Academic Pathway for Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) Graduate Certificate, which allowed him to obtain his RPN licence and gain critical Canadian experience.

    “Canadian nurses are more independent, very autonomous. The Academic Pathway program taught me to be assertive, especially interprofessionally, and to think critically,” he notes. “It taught me how to communicate with other health care professions – not just fellow nurses, but also doctors, occupational therapists and dieticians. It allows students to understand teamwork in the hospital.”

    “George Brown gave me the opportunity to really delve into the Canadian stream of nursing…. The Academic Pathway program taught me to be assertive, especially interprofessionally, and to think critically. It taught me how to communicate with other health care professions – not just fellow nurses, but also doctors, occupational therapists and dieticians. It allows students to understand teamwork in the hospital.”

    The hands-on aspects of this graduate certificate program were vital. Carl was chosen to be part of a preceptor pilot project, which paired students and registered nurses for a clinical placement. “I basically practised as an RPN, but with supervision,” he recalls. It helped me transition from being a registered nurse outside Canada. The program really moulded and shaped me, allowing me to learn realistically from clinical settings.”

    Carl also appreciated the flexibility of the college’s night and weekend classes, which allowed him to both work and study. “While pursuing our career is the goal, having a regular job is essential to new settlers in Canada as well,” he says. “The program allowed me to balance school and my job.”

    In 2015, Carl took an additional research course at George Brown that served as a bridge to university, and he completed Ryerson University’s post‑diploma Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2017. He’s preparing for the Canadian registered nurse’s exam while working as a casual employee at Baycrest, where he received an award for excellence in practical nursing. He also plans to pursue another big educational and career goal – a Master of Nursing degree.

    The student has also become a mentor. Carl regularly encourages other internationally-educated nurses at his church and in his community – many of whom have come to Canada as caregivers – to attend George Brown. “I’ve been privileged to use my first-hand experience to give advice and information to others and direct them to George Brown,” he says. “Immigrant caregivers in Canada want to work, and also want to settle down and pursue their dreams. George Brown has the academic flexibility to make that happen.”

    Carl is proud to be able to connect with his mother through his nursing career; she works as a nurse in the Philippines. “I didn’t always understand how she was so compassionate and passionate about her work,” he explains. “As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to understand her craft and the fulfilling opportunities of this field. You really have to have heart to get into this profession. I see this as my gift, to be of help to others.” Thanks to George Brown, he’s able to apply his dedication to healing others in his adopted country.