Passion and Perseverance on the Road to Being a Physician Again

chibuike-chizea-and-familyTrained as a doctor in Nigeria, Chibuike Chizea’s Canadian adventure started in 2011. Recertifying as a doctor in Canada is extremely difficult. It’s even harder when you’re separated from family.

It’s essential to develop a realistic plan. Chibuike had his. He would get his Master of Public Health (MPH), Epidemiology, at the University of Saskatchewan. From there, he would add his Nigerian experience as a General Practitioner to Canada’s public health services. Chibuike knew going back to school meant incurring many expenses, from exam preparation, residency, buying a laptop, to online learning and textbooks.

That’s where the Immigrant Access Fund came in. He heard about IAF through a network of Nigerian-trained nurses and doctors. IAF was well known, with a great reputation in the community. Chibuike met with a member of the loan team who helped him further realize his plan.

Unlike his path to certification, Chibuike says the whole loan application was very quick and easy. “Within two weeks, I completed the process and received my loan.” His Loan Facilitator was attentive and checked in on Chibuike’s progress regularly. Chibuike knew that IAF would be there when he needed support. On one occasion, when he failed an exam, he and his Loan Facilitator worked together to allocate funds so Chibuike could take it a second time.

That level of support was key to his current success. And, Chibuike has succeeded, both personally and professionally.

In 2011, his wife, Thelma, had planned to accompany him when he left Nigeria, but her immigration was delayed. The young couple endured six months of separation. When she did arrive in Saskatoon, she started her own studies in nursing. Together, they worked toward their professional and personal goals in Canada.

2013 was a huge year for the Chizeas. Their family grew to three with the birth to their son, Jamie. Chibuike was awarded a Master of Public Health in December and worked as an Epidemiologist in the Heartland Health Region in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. In the same year, he moved to the College of Medicine at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, working as a Clinical Research Assistant.

In 2015, the family moved to Moose Factory, Ontario, where Chibuike became Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority. His journey isn’t over yet. As he continues his postgraduate education in Public Health, Chibuike is a Resident Physician at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, in Thunder Bay. Chibuike’s resume reads like a health care professional any of us would want.

He’s constantly learning and improving, staying up to date on the latest knowledge and skills. Remote Canadian communities need skilled and determined health care professionals. Thelma will soon finish her training as a nurse. Once she does, the Chizeas will offer a dynamic duo of dedicated health professionals. IAF is happy to have played a part in their journey to success.


Every year, IAF helps hundreds of immigrants by providing loans to help them pay for the licensing or training they need to work in their field in Canada. Now more than ever Canada’s newcomers need our help. Please consider a donation to IAF today.