Many long-term care and retirement homes in Newfoundland and Labrador are struggling to fill jobs, but Chancellor Park, in St. John’s, has been successfully hiring internationally educated nurses. The home struck gold when it found Dilruba Hussaini, a young nurse from Afghanistan who was living as a refugee with her family in India. Dilruba’s international training qualified her to work at Chancellor Park as a personal care attendant.

Seniors throughout Canada who need long-term care are facing waitlists because many homes are short-staffed. In summer 2022, CBC reported that Newfoundland and Labrador had more than 600 vacant nurse positions and 900 nurses approaching retirement. The situation was so dire that the province offered incentives to recruit and retain nurses, from signing bonuses to double-rate overtime and more.

Beverley Parsons oversees staffing at Chancellor Park and says that COVID-19 made it even harder to find workers.

“Many people decided to retire during the pandemic,” she says. “There just aren’t enough young people with the education and skills needed to replace them.”

Chancellor Park found Dilruba through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot. The pilot helps skilled refugees immigrate to Canada and gives employers access to qualified candidates to fill job openings.

Dilruba comes across as soft-spoken and a little shy, but it’s clear that there is some steely determination beneath her modesty. She is highly motivated to make the most of her new life in Canada. And she loves her new job.

“My work is absolutely amazing,” she says. “It’s my passion, and I enjoy every day. I really value the opportunity to work with seniors. It’s so interesting to sit with them and hear about what they’ve done in their lives.”

Heidi Eveleigh, a registered nurse at Chancellor Park, works with Dilruba on most shifts and describes her as a “go-getter.”

“Dilruba is a really welcome addition,” Heidi says. “She’s hard-working, respectful and dedicated. I appreciate the knowledge, experience and skills that she brings.”

“Dilruba is already showing leadership potential,” Beverley says. “She had only been at Chancellor Park for a few weeks when another new employee arrived. Dilruba was quick to take the new person under her wing.”

St. John’s has been a dream come true for Dilruba. When she’s not working, she likes to explore the area by going on hikes.

“It’s peaceful and calm here,” she says. “The people are friendly and pleasant, and I can find everything I need. It’s a place I have been dreaming about for years.”

Eventually, Dilruba plans to learn French, pursue her Canadian nursing credentials and take on greater responsibilities at work.

“I’m still young,” she says. “But I thrive on challenges, set goals, try my best and work very hard so that my older self will thank me some day.”

This article first appeared online at Immigration Matters