Key career goals to smash in 2018

It has been 20 days into the new year, and for most people, January always seems quite long, the kind of month that drags by especially when you can’t wait for it to be over and done with.

It is also that time of the year when everyone sets new year resolutions and goals with so much enthusiasm and momentum.

Most times the initial zeal and drive wanes as the days go by and life tolls in. For some, fortunately this still lingers for a longer period.

One of the most set goals for young people are career goals and  this is not surprising. Everyone wants a better career, more exciting jobs, substantial professional development and of course the dreamy enticing pay.

Setting and smashing career goals is not a stroll- in-the-park task, it is not a herculean task either, albeit a very deliberate one that needs effort and commitment.

In addition to your already set goals these are a few key career goals to pursue and achieve in 2018.

Professional and self development

Continuous professional and self development is a mantra to always go by. Invest in yourself and dedicate resources every month towards professional development. Benchmark and rate your development, seek feedback and work towards closing any career gaps.

Read books

There are a few things reading books do for you, it helps you enhance your vocabulary and most importantly gain vast knowledge in different topic areas. Reading enhances soft skills such as communicating and relating effectively with people. This is very key as soft skills play an important role in building a career.

Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. —Tomie dePaola

Take courses

Invest in professional courses that add value and knowledge. If there is a career field you want to change to, learn more about it. Online courses make learning an easier task from the comfort of your home. There are websites and platforms that provide free courses and learning materials. Build expertise and knowledge, enroll in academic programs if need be.

Attend events and network

Make intentional effort to attend value adding events that help you build the right network and meet new people, either in your current field of work or a specific field you are interested in.

Get a mentor

There is no better way to learn than from those who have gone ahead of you. You do not necessarily have to meet your mentor physically, you can build a mentorship relationship with a trusted mentor online or by reading their books and listening to their voice or video content.

Mentoring is an indispensable requirement for an artist’s growth. Not only are skills and experience shared, but there is value in the essential re-examination of one’s own work and techniques.

Jim Norman

Practise public speaking

Volunteer to speak at events or join a public speaking group. This ultimately helps you build confidence and excellent communication skills.

Try/Learn something new

Learn a new language or skill. Being bi-lingual can give you an added advantage in your career journey. Acquire a new hands on skill especially in an area of your interest.

Build efficiency and expertise

Put in extra work to be more effective and efficient in the workplace. Achieve a high say-do ratio and be very result driven, rather than task driven. Improve your workplace productivity.

Need help? Download workplace productivity checklist below.


Enhance Workplace Productivity

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Start a blog

Write about topics that interest you and be vocal about your professional expertise through written and spoken words. The more you write about things you are passionate about, the more you become passionate about them. Put yourself out there as an expert in your field.

Teach what you know

It’s not enough to get a mentor, be a mentor. Teach and share on what you know extensively about, for free or for a price. The more you teach, the more knowledgeable you become and you also become recognized in your field.

In learning you will teach, in teaching you will learn.

Phil Collins

Achieving these goals will not only help you build and establish a lasting career, it would make you a better person in total.

What are your career goals for 2018 and how do you plan on achieving them?



What new wage laws mean for small businesses

The only thing that is constant is change


There will always be change, change in business dynamics, industry demands, technology, regulations and much more. All of which would most likely affect the way businesses, large or small, operate.

Some changes may be seemingly small albeit with over all gigantic impact on business operations. An example of such is change in labour regulations, particularly minimum wage.

The recent changes in Canadian provinces, Ontario and Alberta have sparked multiple reactions from affected stakeholders, majorly, businesses, community and employees.

In the midst of all these actions and reactions, one thing is certain, if your business strategy has been focused on paying the bare minimum wage, then your business is certainly going to be affected by the minimum wage laws.

An increased minimum wage means your human resources expenses are going to spike  and this will certainly affect your bottom line.

The bottom line which refers to business profitability is of utmost importance, not just for business owners’ compensation but also for business survival.

When such changes as labour costs affect the business bottom line, something has to give way. Emergency strategy sessions would be scheduled with everyone running around the place, figuring out how to address the issue in the least dramatic way.

In the simplest sense, your business profitability is the net of your revenue and expenses, so to make up for the dwindling effect of inevitable additional expenses, you try to cut costs in other areas, related or unrelated or you strategize on ways to boost revenue, for example, through increase in prices.

For which ever option chosen, either to cut costs, increase revenue or both, those affected directly or indirectly are not necessarily happy about it. In the real sense, the effects of these actions eventually trickle down to the final consumers.

Various media outlets reported recent outrage following reactions of small businesses to these regulatory changes. Some business communicated plans to cut back on paid staff benefits while others chose to transfer the expected increase in payroll expenses to the consumers.

Not only that, some businesses took the highway approach to change staff status from employee to contractor to deal with the new labour changes.

While the increase in minimum wages is expected to yield positive economic results, business have been hit, worker are disgruntled and the community has yielded to demonstrations, airing and expressing their disappointments.

The seemingly untouched businesses are those who have previously paid all workers above the new minimum wage and interestingly, some businesses have taken this change as a walk in the park situation.

Easier adaptation to changes in regulations like minimum wage can be attributed to the benefits of proactive and effective business planning.

Business planning is essential for every business as it creates a foundation of building active and adaptive strategies. This is one of the reasons why your small and medium scale business needs a business plan.

External factors like government regulations affect business operations as seen on the recent minimum wage changes. A business plan analyses different scenarios, assumptions and speculations that make it relatively easier to adapt to external changes, take advantage of opportunities and effectively manage risks and unforeseen negative factors.


Business Plan Guide

Download your free guide for building effective business plans.


In the reality of a constant changing environment, ranging from social to technological, regulatory and economic factors, the best action for every small business is to actively engage in a flexible business planning.

Businesses should build effective and realistic business plans, taking into consideration as many variables as possible while being open to adaptation and new innovations.

Why your small-scale business needs a business plan

If you run a small business or own a ‘side gig’, then you really do need a business plan.

First, what is a business plan?

A business plan simply put, is a written and drawn layout of goals, objectives and strategies you have for your business.

There is usually a misconception that a business plan is only needed if you intend to seek funding from investors and/or the bank or if you plan on selling your business.

While these are part of the ‘WHYs’, they are not the only reasons your business needs a plan. If you are yet to find out, keep reading.

Reasons why you need a business plan:

1. To determine the viability of your idea

So you have an idea, great! Now what? Do you go straight ahead into executing your great idea, no!

You need to determine the feasibility of your idea, the possibility of turning an idea into  a reality and also passing the longevity test, a phenomenon referred to in business accounting as ‘going concern’.

Before you dedicate ample resources and effort into nurturing your idea, you need to know the possibilities and opportunities that are available, the obstacles and challenges that might deter your idea or business from being profitable or from surviving.

For example, if you plan on running a service based business , you most likely want to be profitable and better still exist for the longest period possible.

To achieve these goals, you need to do a proper plan that reveals if these great ideas you have are not only attainable but can thrive and survive.

Improper planning is one of the major reasons many ideas and businesses are birthed but die before reaching full potential.

The viability of your idea or business depends on several factors:

  • Availability of a market or demand for your product or services
  • Favourable industry and market factors
  • Your value proposition and strengths
  • Surrounding setbacks, threats and entry barriers
  • Competitive structures and pricing

A business plan would help you analyze all this factors, bringing into perspective whether to forge ahead with the business plan or not and things to consider if you decide to go ahead with building the business and nurturing your idea.

2. To give you a drawing board to fall back to

You business plan gives you a blueprint that you can always to refer to especially when you feel like you have strayed away from originality and business vision.

Crafting a business plan requires you to write out your goals, vision and mission. You get to establish the ‘WHY’ of your idea and business and also understand what drove your passion and ideas in the first place.

It helps you maintain your brand and originality especially in a saturated business world filled with diverse variations of your idea or business.

Drawing up a business plan motivates you to keep pushing until you achieve the end goal. It also provides a written vision to guide partners and staff who join you along your business journey.

You have guidelines that align with the vision board set in your business plan and everyone is aware of how their actions and areas of operation contribute to the overall goal and plan.


Business Plan Guide

Download your free guide for building effective business plans.


3. Clarity on business, ideas and strategies

Irrespective of whether your ideas are for a profitable business or not-for-profit venture, you need to determine strategic options for effective operations.

A business plan provides clarity of strategies for growth, expansion and longevity. Once you have established the strategic goals of your business or idea, you would need to determine strategies tailored towards achieving these objectives.

Once again, this is where your business plan comes into play.

You are able to experience clarity from the details of your plan as it regards:

  • Growth and expansion strategies
  • Marketing to promote your brand, ideas and business
  • Pricing if you decide to sell a product or service
  • Human resources, if you need additional hands to manage and run your ideas
  • Supply chain management for your supplies and inventories
  • Production activities and customer satisfaction

and much more.

A business plan will highlight opportunities for enhancing your business value chain and maximizing your resources for better deliverability and growth.

4. Seek funds, investments or sell out

Sometimes you may find out that your ideas and businesses have grown bigger than you initially planned and you may need extra funds to further fuel this growth.

Your business plan can help you secure funds and loans from financial institutions, get partnerships and investors or even sell out to a buyer.

Because a business plan is a rolling document, which means you can always update it as your business grows, you can definitely enhance it and make it more appealing and detailed for investors and fund seeking purposes.

Even if you have built a very simple business plan just for clarity purposes, this can be improved upon to reflect extensive growth opportunities and financial profitability possibilities to attract funds.

If you have been thinking that you would never get to the stage of trying to seek investor funds or draw out a bank loan and worse, sell your hard thought idea and business, I hope the other three reasons are good enough for you to get your laptop, pick up a pen and note pad and start drawing out a plan for your idea and business.

Building a business plan does not have to be a daunting process, you can get one by:

  • Doing it yourself (DIY)- This is usually ideal for smaller, non-complex business ideas.
  • Employing expert services- If your idea or business is envisaged to be big or complex and most importantly, if you need investors and funding, then it is advisable to get expert help in building an appealing business plan.

If you plan on building a business plan by doing it yourself (DIY), I have got you covered.

Download a simple business plan guide below.

Business Plan Guide

Download your free guide for building effective business plans.


We love to hear from you, please leave your thoughts below or through the contact page.

Do not forget to download your business plan guide here

Career Insights with Sam and Rachel- Become a Nurse/Travel Nurse in Canada and Australia

The hospital is not a place you would want to be for any reason but when you have nice nurses attend to you, it makes a whole lot of difference.

The Nursing profession isn’t really for everyone. You definitely need to have a very high level of empathy, skill, respect and genuine care for others.

Overview of Canadian Nursing profession

As with most professions in Canada, the nursing profession is regulated by respective provinces,  with different albeit similar regulations. You need to familiarize yourself with regulations of the province you want to practise.

Canada recognizes three (3) major types of nurses, the Registered Nurse (RN) and the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) (Also known as the Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario. The less common type of nurse is the Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN), mainly because it is only available in just four provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan).

The education required for the different types of nurses differ slightly.  This also varies a bit in the different provinces most especially in Quebec, the province with most french speaking residents.

Nurses are well compensated and respected in Canada and it is considered a prestigious profession. It is also great to note that it is a very high demanded profession most especially in the colder northern provinces/territories where you are most likely to get a job as a nurse.

“I had the opportunity to connect with two respected Registered Nurses, Sam and Rachel. They happen to have taken up the travel nursing path and are oh! living their dream. Imagine doing what you love and travelling the world as well, bliss!”

Meet Rachel

My name is Rachel Sullivan, I am a registered nurse, I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and also lived in Ottawa Ontario for about 6 years. I currently live in Queensland, Australia and have been living and travelling here for about two years.

I am also an American citizen, since my Mom is American. So I do have aspirations to go nurse in the US as some point in my career as well. I love that nursing is such a compassionate career. I feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives when I go to work. There is also such a variety of work opportunities with nursing and I love that it provides so many chances to travel and see the world.

Meet Sam

I am Sam Martin, I am from southern New South Wales, Australia and I have been travel nursing for two years. I love nursing because I get paid to help people, it supplements my lifestyle and at the same time I am helping people. It’s a continually growing environment and I’m always learning in my job.

Travel nurse
The travelling nurse in his scrubs
“If you would like to know more about the Nursing profession in Canada and Australia, keep reading.”

They explain the different types of nurses in Canada and Australia

There are two different types of Nurses in Canada RN (registered nurse) and RPN (registered practical nurse) in Australia RPNs are called EN (enrolled nurses). To become an RPN only requires three years in Canada and two in Australia and involves less theory study than becoming an RN.

This means a RN has a wider scope of practice than an RPN/EN. RPN’s/EN’s are not able to perform as many delegated tasks as an RN, and cannot administer all of the same medication as an RN or care of as complex/ acutely ill patients as an RN. RPN’s/EN’s are still a necessary and appreciated role in our healthcare system in Canada.

“The Nursing profession requires some level of education and training to enable you practise.”

Rachel shares a typical path to becoming Nurses in Canada and Australia

I attended The University of Ottawa for my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. To become an RN in Canada you must complete the BScN program at a university or college. Programs may differ slightly from province to province, but mine was 4 years long.

The first year was mainly health science classes like anatomy and physiology, or pharmacology, and the remaining three years included theory classes with corresponding labs and clinical portions in the hospital where you could put the theory into practice.

Once you complete your BScN you must sit the boards exam, which is now called NCLEX and with a pass score you can become registered in your province to practice nursing.

In Australia you must attend an accredited university program, same as Canada, however nursing programs are only three years in Australia. In Australia there are no boards exam, you just apply for your AHPRA nursing registration afterwards.

Your university helps you with this process in both Canada and Australia.

Nurse Canada

“If you’ve been to a hospital or clinic, you can attest that nurses are always busy. Thinking of becoming a nurse, keep reading to know what a day feels like.”

Typical day for Nurses in Canada vs Australia

Generally nursing is the same in both Canada and Australia. It really depends on where you are working, nursing can look very different if you are working in a hospital, a community or an office. 

A typical day in a hospital can also vary dramatically depending on what specialty you are working in.

Hospital nursing typically means hands on caring for patients which includes tasks: like assessing your patient and monitoring for changes, administering medications, performing delegated tasks (like inserting a urinary catheter or changing a dressing).

It could also involve assisting your patient with self care (cleaning or eating), collaborating with other interdisciplinary members (doctors, physiotherapist, dieticians, respiratory therapist etc.).

“For those wondering if you need additional qualifications to practise as a nurse, here’s what they have to say.”

Required qualifications and certifications to practise Nursing in Canada or Australia

You can work as an RN in Canada and Australia with only your BScN and license to practice. There are opportunities to specialize in certain areas such as critical care, wound care, diabetes etc. as post grad education if you like.

There are also programs available to get your Masters or PhD in nursing and/or become a Nurse Practitioner.

“Foreign trained Nurses, get in here for some advice”

Advice for internationally trained nurses

If you are coming from another country and want to study to become a nurse in Canada it is the same process as described above.

If you are trained as a nurse internationally you will have to contact the nursing licensure body of whatever province you want to work in and find out if your training is equivalent to that in Canada.

Even if your training is adequate you also need to complete the NCLEX and with a passing score you can apply for registration in that province.

In Australia if you want to work as an internationally trained nurse we have a blog post where we discuss exactly how it’s done:  

Basically, if you are thinking of working internationally as a nurse you will always need a nursing registration in that country, a valid working visa, and a job.

It depends on what your training is, what country you are travelling to and from how easy or difficult this will be. If any of your readers have specific questions about this they can contact us.

Searching for nursing jobs in Canada? This is a good place to start. 

This career series has made me appreciate the work a lot of people put into providing career information. Sam and Racheal do an excellent job on their platform, Go Anywhere Nursing.”
“If you want to know more about it, keep reading.”

What Go Anywhere Nursing is all about

We created a blog called Go Anywhere Nursing where we share our stories and travels as travel nurses. We hope to inspire other nurses to travel and facilitate their transition into the travel nursing world. It’s also a platform for us to share our travel experiences.

We are taking some time off work to travel over the holidays. When we return to Australia we have a massive trip planned. We will be travelling the whole country in a motor home, exploring the country and picking up nursing contracts along the way. Check out our blog or follow us on Instagram to follow our Australia Trip!

We were both drawn into travel nursing because we enjoy the spontaneity of the lifestyle and both love to travel.

Basically travel nursing is working as a nurse on a casual basis in more than one hospital/town/or even country. We discuss it in a bit more detail in this blog:

The main things to consider when travel nursing is getting your nursing wherever you are planning on working, getting a visa to work (if you are travelling to a new country) and finding a nursing agency who will find you work.

We discuss nursing agencies in Australia in this blog post

“If you are in a serious relationship or even married, you may be wondering what it entails if you decide to become a travel nurse”

Heres what Sam and Rachel have to say about it

We are a couple! Travel nursing is definitely a tricky profession when it comes to relationships. It is very helpful having a partner who is in the same profession and especially who you are able to travel with. Travel nursing could other wise be very taxing on a relationship.

“Who wouldn’t want a profession you love and travel while at it. Well, there’s also the other side to it.”

The Pros and Cons of travel nursing

Travel nursing does come with some pros and cons just like any career. It can be challenging as an agency nurse because you are not always guaranteed work, although we have never been short of work and always been able to find work in a place we want to work, as a casual employee there is no guarantee.

It can also be difficult having such a transient lifestyle and sometimes missing the comforts of home. However this also means that if its excitement and adventure you are looking for in life, travel nursing will give that to you!

It’s a great way to see the world and if you ever wish to settle for a little you can usually extend your contract and stay in one place longer.

A huge perk to travel nursing are the pay rates, its no secret that agency nurses get paid a much higher hourly rate than staff nurses and also often get their travel and accommodation paid for.

With casual work this means we often spend only about 6-8 months of the year actually working and the rest travelling and we are able to afford it.

Our biggest advice is if you are thinking about trying travel nursing is to stop hesitating and just do it! Sure it’s scary and there’s hundreds of reasons you could talk yourself out of it, but we bet there’s even more reasons we could talk you into doing it!

You never know what life holds for you or what you will learn about yourself until you step out of your comfort zone and try something new!

“Finally, there is a whole lot of information that can not go into one post, so if you would like to know more about this, please leave a comment or reach out. If you need more information on nursing in Canada, the Canadian Nursing Association is a great place to start”

Be sure to subscribe  and connect with Sam and Rachel  if you are interested in the Nursing profession in Canada and Australia especially travel nursing. They have a webinar coming up on Nursing in Australia,  sign up to get first hand information.

Connect on our instagram , facebook and twitter  and subscribe to get informed on more career insights posts coming up. We will be sharing on different career paths so do not miss out!


Career Insights with Anne Dang: Become a Physician Assistant (PA) in Canada

If you're reading this, chances are you found out about this new career insight series through our instagram page, facebook page or even our new twitter page. Even better, you've already subscribed and found out in the newsletter, if not, you can do so here , that way you do not miss out on any career you may be interested in.

So, if you are already subscribed, you must have gotten the insider scope about the new Career Insights series. Well, in this series, you will be getting loads of career and professional insights from industry experts, it is definitely going to be very informative.

You will get first hand advice on how to pursue your dream career, the steps to follow, academic requirements, advice for both foreigners and locals and much more.

This first feature is for two sets of people:

  1. If you're interested in pursuing a fulfilling career in an alternative medical field path other than the common routes and
  2. If  you are or planning to become a resident/citizen of Canada.

If this is applies to you, lets get started with Anne Dang of

Get to know Anne Dang

Hi! I’m Anne, a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant currently working in the Orthopaedic Surgery Practice. I’ve been practicing for 6 years, and I write about the Physician Assistant (PA) profession on my blog, the Canadian PA .

I enjoy advising PA students through the McMaster PA Student Advisor Program, working as a clinical preceptor for Canadian PA students who are completing 2nd year rotations in Orthopaedic Surgery. I volunteer a lot of my time working on PA Advocacy for the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA), coaching PA students.

I’ve been involved in graphic and web design since the age of 12, through self-teaching. Although my parents really encouraged me to pursue a career in health care, I have always found a way to stay involved in the world of web and graphic design. I’ve found a way to combine my love for tech, social media and medicine into a way that helps others interested in pursuing the PA profession.

Outside of work I enjoy crafting, graphic and web design, volunteering and outdoor activities.

"I am personally very impressed with what she has done in the Physician Assistant field, her selfless contributions, advocacy and mentorships. You can find out more about Anne here .

Just like me, there are a lot of people who are not very aware about the Physician Assistant medical route in Canada."


Anne shares why most people are not aware of Physician Assistants in Canada

Physician Assistants in the civilian setting was only recently introduced into Canada and Ontario. They have a longer history in the Canadian military, and have been around a few decades in Canada. I think the fact that the profession is still being pioneered is a factor.

Another factor is that, there are currently 600 PAs across Canada, with 300+ being concentrated in Ontario, whereas, there are 82,000+ physicians in Canada in family medicine and medical specialties. Source . Also, there are are 298,743 nurses in Canada in 2016 according to the Canadian Nurses Association.  Source

Groups like physicians and nurses are more well known because of how long they have been around, the large numbers that are working and practicing in Canada. Newer less common roles such as Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistants are not as common and therefore not as well known.

Anne teaching hand anatomy during an injection workshop Ottawa, ON for the Canadian PA conference.

"As the name suggests, a lot of people may be tempted to think all PAs do is assist Physicians and most likely do the same thing as Nurses. Well, that is not the case."

The similarities and difference between  related medical careers

Physician Assistants (PA) are more similar to physicians (MDs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) than they are to nurses. Patients may see a PA or NP instead of the physician for their primary care or specialty care needs.

PAs, NPs and MDs take histories and perform physical exams, order and interpret investigations (like x-rays labs, etc.), they diagnose, and perform an assessment plan. They also prescribe and set the treatment plan.

PAs do a lot of the same tasks as physicians do (as mentioned before - history taking, physical exam, diagnosis and treatment  - but may autonomously in collaboration with physicians. PAs and MDs are also both educated in the medical model.

Registered Nurse also do some assessment and planning, and helping carry out treat plans set by the physician. They work to monitor symptoms, collect vital signs, do general assessments and exams, and prepare patients for exams and treatments. Nurses also do their own assessments and nursing treatment plans based on the nursing model.

It is important to note that Physician Assistants are NOT medical assistants, medical secretaries / administrative assistants, personal support care workers, or a “doctor” in training.

Excerpt from my post on What a PA is not :

PAs are trained under the medical model, nurses are trained in the nursing model. Nurses may choose to pursue PA school or Nurse Practitioner (NP) school. There are some of my PA colleagues who were registered nurses before becoming Physician Assistants.

Read The Differences between Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants .

PAs do not compete for nursing jobs, as PAs do not do the same clinical duties as nurses. PA scope of practice is very similar to Nurse Practitioners more than it is to Registered Nurses. In the United States, there are some practices that advertise for a PA or NP for the same position.

Nursing duties can be divided into four major categories:

  1. Assess patients’ physical, mental and emotional health status. This includes taking history & performing basic physical exams and ensuring appropriate medical documentation throughout the patient’s stay.
  2. Carrying out physician orders for ordering investigations and initiating a treatment plan. This can mean administering medications, wound care, starting an IV, and injections.
  3. Monitoring results of treatment and alerting the physician of any untoward outcomes.
  4. Patient and family education, counselling on treatment plan and preventative health. (Source)

Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) would perform detailed patient assessments (histories and physicals) and initiate orders as an extension of the physician.

Nursing staff may often consult with PAs and NPs for the supervising physician’s patient (as they would consult with residents, fellows or clinical clerks).

These advanced practice providers (APPs – the PAs and NPs) have medical directives and/or a document signed off by authorizing officials (e.g. hospital or department staff, supervising physician, department lead) which outline the APP’s scope of practice.

PAs are trained as generalists, which means they can enter any specialty of medicine - whether it is Family Medicine, Emergency, Hospital (internal medicine, etc.), or in specialties like Orthopaedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Rheumatology, Urology, Dermatology, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Oncology, etc.

"She has a whole lot to share on this, make sure to check her website for more details, I am personally impressed with the amount of useful information she provides and the amount of work she has done to promote the PA profession. is a wealth of knowledge."

Physician Assistant infographic


"If you are interested in a typical practical path to becoming a PA, Anne shares her educational experience below".

How I became a Canadian Physician Assistant

At the time I was in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program at McMaster University, almost all of my peers were applying for medicine, with a smaller minority aiming for other health care professions such as Pharmacy, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, etc.

I knew I wanted to practice medicine, but I wasn’t sure if “being a doctor” was the right fit for me. Especially looking at the work-life balance and stress I had seen in physicians that I was working with in my summers as a research assistant on a clinical trial.

I attended career info sessions (e.g. Naturopath), career fairs (visited booths on Chiropractic Colleges), went to the Pre-Med club to listen in on the different medical programs in Canada.

The first time I heard about the PA program was while I was sitting in the BHSc office speaking with my guidance counsellor. She had mentioned a graduate from the program was a 1st year student in the PA program - the more I looked into the Physician Assistant profession, the more the career resonated with me. Once I sat down and spoke with the 1st year PA student, and attended the info session I knew this was my first choice after completing my 4 year degree.

I applied to McMaster’s PA Program during my 4th year of university. I completed the supplemental application, attended the Multi-Mini interview and started the program in September 2009. At this time Manitoba already had its PA program starting, and University of Toronto would accept their first class in January 2010 (back when PA Consortium had a January start, now it is a September start).

I wrote a post about the Canadian PA school admission requirements . However to summarize it here, the PA route depends on which school you are applying to. McMaster, for instance requires minimum 2 years of university completed, GPA of 3.0 and supplementary application to be completed before an invitation of the MMI.

PA Consortium, which is a combination of University of Toronto, Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Michener Institute requires a minimum GPA of 2.7 (at time of writing, November 2017), full  hours of health care experience (which can be paid, clinical placement, or volunteer - refer to their website for the most accurate up-to-date information) with some recommended course work to be completed, in addition to letters of reference.

University of Manitoba offers a Master’s PA program, requiring candidates to finish 4 year Bachelor’s degree or higher (no later than May 30th) of the year you hope to enter the MPAS program, police check, letters of reference,  achieve a 3.0/4.5 GPA scale in most recent 60-credit hours, and complete University of Manitoba Faculty of Graduate Studies application. They also have criteria for “competitive” applicants, achieving a GPA of 3.5 or above, completed courses in Biochemistry, Human Anatomy and Physiology with minimum grade B.

Note: Some of admission requirements may change or evolve over time.

"Find out more about a typical day of a PA on, a lot of experts share their experiences.

You may want to get information on career development and growth as a PA in Canada, keep reading".

Required certifications and trainings for PAs

Multiple and endless certifications, masters, Phd. are not necessary. Although in some areas of medicine (for example, Emergency Medicine), candidates may benefit from having a recent ACLS certification, CPR certification - health care provider level.

The University of Manitoba offers a Master’s Degree in PA Studies. The two Ontario Programs - University of Toronto and McMaster University offer Bachelor’s Degree. Whether you have a Master’s of PA studies or Bachelor’s does not matter when it comes to PA employment.

The only factor affecting potential employment is obtaining your PA Certification. Canadian PA graduates and American pAs looking to practice in Canada must register through the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants to write the certification exam. Once you pass, you are considered a “Canadian Certified Physician Assistant (CCPA)” . In order to maintain this designation, you need to complete a certain number of continuing medical education (CME) hours per 5 year cycle.

"A number of foreigners or people looking to move to Canada may be considering a career in the medical field or/and specifically as a physician Assistant. Anne has some advice for you".

You may want to get information on career development and growth as a PA in Canada, keep reading".

Foreigners and immigrants who would love to practise as Canadian Physician Assistant

For all Canadian PA programs you need to be a Canadian citizen or obtain permanent resident status. Before you apply ensure you meet the minimum English language requirements (i.e. a certain score on TOEFL exam).

Once this is accomplished, you may now start looking at Canadian PA school admissions. Realize that PA role is NOT a bridging program to practice as a physician in Canada. You can look into other roles such as Clinical Assistant program in Manitoba, other bridging MD programs offered to International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in provinces and areas that are underserved. I’ve written about options for IMGs on

As a PA you are not an independent practitioner. PAs work in collaboration with a supervising physician. Therefore you can only perform delegated duties that fall within the scope of your supervising physician.

For example, if you learned a previous skill where you were performing a paracentesis as an IMG, but you know work as a Canadian PA in a family practice. If your supervising physician does not perform paracentesis, you cannot perform that paracentesis in that setting as a result.

Physician assisant
Being a PA includes History taking, Physical Examinations, Investigations, Diagnosing, Treating, prescribing, and performing procedures. A large part is also patient education, which PAs play a large role in. In my role in the Orthopaedic Surgery Practice I educate patients about their conditions, what to expect before and after surgery, about treatment options (operative vs. non-operative) and about their medications. I counsel patients on positive lifestyle changes, smoking cessation and the impact on healing post-operatively

"Why then should you pursue a career as a Physician Assistant?"

Here are a few reasons Anne loves her profession and why it's totally worth it

  • Less than a decade in school before practicing medicine - I enjoy the PA role because the duration of the program was 24 months and I was “done”. I could start working as staff after 2 years.
  • Lateral Flexibility - I loved the lateral flexibility as well. Should I decide not to work in Orthopaedic Surgery anymore, I can make the switch to Emergency, Family, Dermatology etc. without having to go back to school. At present this is not possible with physicians unless you go back to residency or complete special fellowships as an extension of your family practice degree.
  • Work-Life Balance -  I like the work life balance as well. Although 2nd year PA school was very rigorous with shift work and , once I started working I had regular hours. I have time for activities outside of work.

"There is a lot more information on renumeration, medical field comparisons, typical day in the lives of PAs  and so much more on "

  • Finally, we stop here with Anne Dang of , I am sure if this is your career of interest you have learnt a lot and also visited her site already. 

    I hope you enjoyed this and gained a lot of information, do subscribe to get notifications of more posts like this, I will be sharing on a wide range of careers, most especially in Canada but hopefully other parts of the world as well.

    Please leave your comments, thoughts and questions. Feel free to reach out if you have any further enquiries or career paths you need insight on.

    There's a new career insights post coming up next week, you don't want to miss it!  Can you guess which career we will be sharing on next ? 

5 important tips to help you ace an interview

If there is anyone who is tired of the sick gut feeling after receiving regret emails days or weeks after an interview, then this is for you.

Attending interviews could be very nerve wrecking, the least and best thing  you could do is get prepared.

If you want to know more about the tips that would get you more positive interview emails, then keep reading.

The first thing you want to do is,


 1. Bring your ‘A’ game


You would think this is a basic ingredient that everyone brings to the table but it’s surprising or not, to know that a lot of people go for interviews without adequate technical knowledge in the expected field of expertise.

There are more qualified people than there are available jobs and so, many people are the perfect fit as regards experience and the value they can offer to an organization.

Bringing top notch, valuable skills, experience and technical know-how is as basic as it gets. It gets you one foot in the door.

I have an unforgettable experience which I would share.

Straight out of university, I had the opportunity to interview for a financial risk management role in a very big international investment bank. It was a disaster.

I have a Business degree in Economics, I could definitely work in an investment bank but I made a mistake, I did not know enough about risk management and investment banking. It wasn’t surprising that I stumbled.

I had just one job, which was, to do my research and learn more about the role, current happenings in the risk management field, but I did not.

Expertise comes with experience most often than not, but if the role requires some skills in areas which you are not very conversant with, you would need to do a bit of work.

It is indeed necessary to  show that you have the required skills and competence to execute on the job.

The next thing you really should do is,


2. Research about the role, and the organization/Interviewer


Asides the generic behavioural and competence based questions, interviewers want to know how well you fit into the particular role and the organization.

Familiarize yourself with the job description in such a way that you can relate your experiences with what the organization  is searching for and what the role requires. This helps you tailor your answers based on your own experience, but relevant to interview questions regarding the particular role.

Different organizations have specific, may be similar, but still, peculiar organizational values and cultures. Interviewers want to recruit the best fit that mirrors these values, hence they structure questions around them. Doing your homework about the organization prepares you for these type of questions.

Some organizations may let you know who you are going to be interviewing with or who the hiring manager is for the role. If this is the case, you need to do a bit of research about the individual especially around his/her work experiences, interests and pursuits.

Interviewers may want to know why you want to work for the organization, this is as generic as it gets, but it helps them determine those who are actually enthusiastic about working with and for them.

The best way to convince an interviewer on why you want to work for them, is by tailoring your answers to what they do, how they do it and why they do it.

An excellent research on the role, organization and interviewer helps you take lead on the interview, this highlights the next consideration.


3. Ask intelligent and direct questions


Doing an extensive research about the role and organization or interviewer enables you ask intelligent questions. Most interviewers are wary of cliche general questions so you are most likely going to stand out if you personalize your questions.

I attended interviews where I was lucky to have been told who my interviewers were. I searched on everything available about these individuals. When I asked them questions, they were very direct about their past work experiences and this triggered very intelligent conversations.

Understanding the role and possessing substantial information about the recruiting organization also helps you ask intelligent questions and steer the interview in the direction that you would prefer it to go.

A clever way to make an interviewer remember you is to ask a very intelligent question, wait for an answer and proffer your own intellectual view about the topic without necessarily negating the interviewer. You can strategically raise suggestions in support of the answer your interviewer has given.

Asking very intelligent direct questions creates an avenue to spark up conversations that leave a lasting memory with the interviewer.

There are several ways to leave a remarkable impression on the interviewer and this brings us to the next tip.


4. Send a follow up email


Following up after an interview is another way to leave an unforgettable imprint.

In a case whereby the interviewer prefers two or more candidates who meet all the requirements and is struggling to choose, leaving a lasting impression can work in your favour.

You should aim to leave a positive impression during the interview with an approachable attitude, pleasant aura and commendable confidence. However, where you may have fallen short of this, you can make up by following up with an email or mail.

Sending a follow up email may suggest to the interviewer your enthusiasm about joining their organization. It is a good complement after show casing your skills, values and experience.

A good follow up email should draw attention to valuable topics of conversation during the interview, thank the interviewer for their time, highlight your major takeaways and further state your keen interest in being a valuable member of the organization.

You really have nothing to lose by sending a follow up email. Even if you do not get the job, ask for feedback to help you avoid mistakes in future interviews.

After all has been said,


5. Finally, be confident!


Confidence is the icing on the cake.

Cheers to getting positive emails and multiple offers.



basics of studying for professional exams

Basics of preparing for professional exams


Professional exams and/or certifications are sure one of the ways to achieve professional and self development. 

If you plan on writing professional exams sooner or later, you should read this.

Preparing for professional exams or any exam in fact can be very time consuming and nerve wrecking, it basically takes a toll on your entire life. 

You keep thinking about the upcoming exams everywhere and every time, when you’re eating, at work, sometimes you may even dream about it.

You will surely understand the guilty feeling you get when you decide to spend a few minutes relaxing and having fun with friends.

Given the timeless and costly investments towards studying and preparing for professional exams, it is only fair that you pass and succeed. 

So what are the Basics of preparing for professional exams?


Exam structure and guidelines

The first basic thing you need to do is familiarizing yourself with the exam  format and guidelines. 

Every exam has it’s unique syllabus, guidelines and requirements, and the more conversant you are with them, the higher your chances of passing. 

ACCA for example, has very detailed information and resources on their website to enable students prepare better. They provide access to technical articles, study guides, sample questions and answers and loads of relevant information.

A lot of their resources lay emphasis on the balance between quantitative and qualitative approach to their questions. It is almost impossible to pass their exams without understanding this approach.

This is why it is extremely important to understand exam structure and requirements. 

Identify a tutor

You may need a tutor to help you prepare for your exams. The need for a tutor is subjective as many people can study exam materials by themselves.

I have tried both approaches for different courses and for each case, I did a true assessment of my capabilities depending on the course requirements. 

Sometimes, it is advisable to use a tutor, especially if they are very experienced as this reduces the time you spend trying to figure out difficult areas on your own.

You can always identify private or public tutors or lecture centers that fit into your study plans and preferences. Of course, based on reviews and referrals you can make an easier decision.

Effective study methods and strategies

The next step is identifying what study method works for you. Some people prefer solo study while others would do better in a group study. So here’s the thing, neither is more effective than the other, it all depends on you.

While it is easier for some people to assimilate better when reading alone, others find studying in groups more encouraging and effective. 

Having a study buddy can also drive and motivate you to be more focused and committed to studying.

Most especially, weigh the benefits verses the cons of a group or solo study. If studying in groups distract you , do not do it. 

Here’s my story, I personally loved solo study but when I decided to try group study, I then realized that I didn’t have to figure it all out on my own. I had a community who understood my struggles and was ready to share ideas, teach and sometimes even relax.

There are also online study forums that provide resourceful materials and provide a platform for students to share ideas, discuss questions and help each other.

I found the opentuition website very helpful and I recommend it every time to my mentees. Useful for ACCA and other accounting exams in the UK like CIMA.

So yes, you can network and build relationships while studying for the win.

Study time and practise

It is almost impossible to pass your professional exams without adequate study. You are studying to become more knowledgeable and professional, sufficient time is required and should be dedicated to your pursuit if you  must succeed.

You can attend multiple classes and still be unprepared due to lack of personal study. The only time I failed an exam was due to inadequate study time. 

Your study time should be effectively allocated between actual reading and practise. 

The best advise on the most effective way to read for an exam is to have a thorough understanding of the course and not just reading to pass or cramming as the case may be.

When you understand the subject matter extensively,  you can attempt any question irrespective of it’s format, this is in fact what makes you a professional.

Invest in study materials, practise questions, flash cards or whatever makes it easier to understand your course. Read broad and wide.

Some people thrive on mnemonics, this is not totally discouraged. This could be quite useful, especially for vast qualitative courses like Audit and Assurance.

Effective practise for any exam depends on the first basic point on understanding the exam structure and requirements.

Every exam has time allocations, your speed during your exams are as important as your knowledge. Practise sample questions under time restricted scenarios until you get around attempting the most questions under the allocated time.

It is also strongly encouraged to attempt all questions required in your exams as this gives you a better chance of accumulating as much marks as possible.

Exam Tip: Attempt questions with higher marks allocations first or questions you are more comfortable acquiring more marks in.

Attempt every possible approach to the exam subject matter through sample questions. This includes  quantitative and qualitative question requirements, multiple choice or essay type of question formats.

Regular practise and vast reading made it easier for me to pass my exams on first attempt.

This definitely requires time hence why dedicating enough study time is paramount to your success.

Finally, having the right mindset, before and during the exam should never be ignored. Have adequate sleep and do not lose out on life.

Now you know the basics, go and conquer!