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Foreign Trained Professionals at a CRO – BioPharma Services

Foreign Trained Professionals; the Unsung Heroes of the CRO Industry blog image.Foreign Trained Professionals; the Unsung Heroes of the CRO Industry blog image.

Currently, annual immigration in Canada amounts to almost 500,000 new immigrants – one of the highest rates per population of any country in the world. As of 2023, there were more than eight million immigrants with permanent residence living in Canada – roughly 20 percent of the total Canadian population.

In light of these statistics, it is no surprise that BioPharma Services Inc. (BPSI) would be comprised of a diverse team of staff who have come to Canada from all over the world. This Blog will focus on the personal emigration journeys of four Medical Assistants (foreign-trained professionals) that have chosen to invest their education, skills, and training into the unparalleled medical care offered here at BioPharma Services.

Carlota Madrideo 

Born and raised in the Philippines, Carlota Madrideo became a Family Medicine/General Physician in 2003 where she practiced for 8 years before deciding to come to Canada in 2011. When asked “Why she left the Philippines to start over in Canada” she facetiously chuckled and admitted that she is still asking herself that question after all of these years. Ultimately, she was seeking stability for her daughter who is now in her last year of High School and is following in her mother’s footsteps. Her daughter is currently waiting for responses from the University Science Programs which she has recently applied to.

CM went on to explain that Canada allows expansion and possibilities for how you practice and conduct research. Although she wrote to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and highly considered pursuing an internship in Saskatchewan, she ultimately decided in favour of attending the Medical Lab Assistant Course at Everest College. She juggles two careers, working for Canadian Blood Services and BioPharma Services as a Medical Assistant on the overnight shift. Her love of research is palpable as she enjoys working in a career that allows her to apply medical terms and utilize a keen clinical eye in the tracking and documentation of adverse events. “It is the closest thing to practicing medicine.”

CM was also impressed by how polite Canadians are, our clean environment, and the stable government and political environment. However, she has one foot still in the Philippines, and dearly misses her father and the food.

Asrafi Azmi 

In 2013, Asrafi Azmi decided to embark on a similar journey and left her homeland of Bangladesh in search of new opportunities and challenges. As a General Practitioner, focused on reproductive health research and vaccine trials, along with having a Master’s in Public Health, she was hyper-qualified for the opportunities that awaited her. However, like countless immigrants, before, and after her, upon her arrival in Canada, she started at an entry-level position at Toronto General and Women’s College Hospitals to secure the Canadian experience she required. AA went in with a flexible mindset and understood and accepted “the way the system works,” as well as the cultural differences of life in Canada.

Her advice to others entertaining this journey is to “Be humble and have a fresh open mind.” Seven years ago, AA had an opportunity to join BioPharma Services as a medical assistant for early stage clinical trials, where she has thrived as a key member of our screening department ever since. She feels blessed for the education, experience, and mentorship she has received throughout her life journey and continues to evaluate her next continuous learning steps.


Rohit Chavan 

Rohit Chavan and his wife decided to switch gears and leave India to explore life in Canada up until COVID halted their plans, as well as the worlds, for the following few years. He was a successful Family Physician running a private practice for six years but his wife’s profession as a dietician was faltering. As they considered the world map, they weighed factors such as weather, pollution, traffic, and Canada came out ahead of the pack. RC is grateful for the opportunity afforded to him to work as a part of the screening team at BioPharma Services for the past year.

He has achieved his stated goals of work-life balance, job satisfaction, the ability to network and communicate, skill enhancement, and he thrives in the diversity that Toronto offers both inside and outside of work. The varied clinical studies and innovative protocols offer him an opportunity to stay current and the growth and opportunities presented at BioPharma Services are endless. RC’s glass is always half full and his grateful, positive demeanor is infectious. While his ultimate goal is to practice medicine in Canada, he understands that this is a complex process that offers no guarantees. In the meantime, he remains focused on his goals and enjoys the “better life” that he and his wife have achieved since moving here.

Atanacio Ramiro 

Not all emigration stories are as intentional as described above. In fact, many encompass tales of loss and sacrifice along the journey. Atanacio Ramiro was a married father of three and an accomplished physician who had a private practice offering both family medicine and general surgery in the Philippines. Over time, many of his extended family members relocated to the US and Canada, and while some stayed in their own lanes, the pressure mounted from others to join them. AR spent 6 months in NYC with a company that sponsored him to offer nursing orientation to new immigrants, but the fast-paced lifestyle was not suitable to his personality. After returning to the Philippines, however, his extended family continued to “lure” him to relocate. His wife’s role as an HR Manager exposed her to expatriates and international travel. Then a traumatic house fire, that fortunately did not claim his family’s lives, along with continued political challenges, influenced the decision to finally take a chance and apply. Although AR was still not convinced that this move was feasible, a phone call came from the Canadian Embassy, and they had one month to decide to uproot their family and make the move.

Over the past 18 years, AR cannot deny that he misses running his own medical practice. The relationships formed with patients, and the impact of the surgeries he performed, are strongholds in his memory. Upon arriving to Canada, he applied to various provincial medical programs, but his submissions went unanswered. After a short stint in retail and at a warehouse job, he landed an opportunity in the CRO industry where he has continued to grow and refine his skill set over the past 16 years. The driving force for him to remain in the clinical research field is his appreciation for the scientifically planned approach to delivering medical care. “Research helps you avoid the countless surprises that are inherent in surgery.” While AR’s next steps are still undetermined, he continues to meet with other University classmates as the President of the North American Chapter of the Fatima 79-83 and compare stories from where it all started.

What each of these incredibly special humans holds in common is their positive demeanors and flexible, open-minded, accepting natures. None came to Canada expecting that their journeys would be easy. None were naïve about the challenges they would face. All had their own reasons for choosing to leave their homelands to make Canada their home. BioPharma Services and Canada are better for having benefitted from their education, knowledge, expertise, and worldly experience. But as Canada faces the brink of a medical crisis,

More than 4,000 patients die each year from lack of care, 6.5 million people have no access to a general practitioner, and with the number of doctors leaving over the coming years, Canada is estimated to be short 44,000 physicians by 2028, further exacerbating our medical deficit.

One must ask, what we as a country should do to ensure that the medical skills attained abroad ultimately bring value to our growing population?

Written by: Renee John, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations.

BioPharma Services, Inc., a Think Research Corporation and clinical trial services company, is a full-service Contract Clinical Research Organization (CRO) based in Toronto, Canada, specializing in Phase 1 clinical trials 1/2a and Bioequivalence clinical trials for international pharmaceutical companies worldwide. BioPharma conducts clinical research operations from its Canadian facility, with access to healthy volunteers and special populations.

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