Because of Suha Masalmeh’s determination to practice medicine in Nova Scotia, citizens of Cape Breton will have the services of a passionate, dedicated and skilled doctor. As a family medicine resident, Suha has been working at a community clinic and a local hospital since May 2013. She works with people of all ages, and provides both emergency and inpatient care.
As an internationally educated medical graduate it wasn’t easy to practice here, but Suha collaborated with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and other organizations to create opportunities for internationally trained physicians to work in Nova Scotia.
Suha was born in Germany of Syrian parents. Political instability made it difficult to live and work in Syria so the family moved often. Suha came to Halifax in 1994 with her family. With a surgeon father and a nurse/midwife mother, medicine seemed a natural calling, so she went to Northern Syria to study medicine graduating from the six-year program in 2000.
She returned to Halifax with the hope to start her postgraduate medical education. After few years of hard work she could not enter a residency program. Suha wanted to pursue both medicine and management. Since the road to medicine was filled with obstacles at that time, she decided to pursue a career in management. She went to Dalhousie for a Master of Health Administration degree instead.
Still determined to work as the doctor she was meant to be, Suha re-entered medical school, graduating in 2013. “It was repetitive but I missed working with patients.” She says. Canada is the most difficult country for internationally trained professionals in that it demands re-schooling rather than probation. “I didn’t expect it to be that hard. This needs to be changed to a better system where we are able to better integrate the skills of immigrants to become active members of the society. This will help build the Canadian economy.”
Suha’s husband is an internationally trained pediatrician. Like many internationally trained physicians, he was not able to work as a physician in Canada. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Counselling program at Acadia University. “You have to fish for opportunities, nothing will be handed to you easily,” says Suha, adding that he hasn’t abandoned working as a physician.