IAF the Prescription for Success for Saskatchewan Pharmacist

Bhavya Patel Picture

When Bhavya Patel decided she wanted to move to Canada, she knew she wanted to keep working as a pharmacist. She had just spent four years studying pharmacy, and her hard work had earned her a gold medal at her university.

With this in mind, and before securing her Permanent Resident (PR) status, she decided she would go to Canada to study to become a pharmacy technician at the Institute of Applied Health Sciences McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. When she graduation, she worked as a labourer in the Loblaw’s warehouse while waiting for her PR to be processed. Eventually she gained her Permanent Residency through the Saskatchewan Provincial Nominee program in 2014.

Bhavya began working as a pharmacy assistant in Regina but was frustrated that her job didn’t match her education and skill level. Making matters worse, she suffered a major setback in her personal life that left her feeling very emotionally frustrated and depressed. She seriously considered moving back home but, after four years of being in Canada, she knew she had to make it work.

Bhavya decided she would pursue her pharmacy certification exams so she could be licensed as a pharmacist in Canada. As part of this she required a course in patient counselling which was only available in Toronto. Despite her pharmacy assistant’s salary, she had saved enough to start the process and wrote her first exam in December 2015. Then she decided to pursue the counselling course in Toronto.

Sadly, shortly after moving to Toronto however, Bhavya’s father passed away and she had to use her remaining savings to attend his funeral in India. She was unsure how to pay for her remaining exams. She seriously considered giving up. The last few years had been such a struggle, but with the encouragement of her mother, she returned to finish her course in Toronto. Her mother’s advice was fortuitous, because it was while taking this course that she learned about IAF Canada from a fellow student.

After reading about IAF, Bhavya decided it was the right option for her. She applied in February 2016 and, after a phone interview with a Loan Facilitator, she got a loan to write her final certification exams. She was incredibly grateful because IAF support helped her clear this final financial hurdle and make it over the finish line.

After writing an exam in May of 2016 she landed a position as a pharmacy technician at the Northern store (Northwest Co.) in Moosonee, Ontario, a remote community near James Bay. Despite its small size she enjoyed it, as she had opportunity to get to know the locals who were very friendly. She then worked for a few weeks in the NWT with the same company.

After several months of studying, and with IAF’s help to pay the exam fees, she wrote and passed her final two exams in December of 2016. She returned to Moosonee over the winter and then, after completing her internship in Buffalo Narrows, SK that spring, received her license to practice as a pharmacist in Canada.

The best was yet to come. After getting her professional license, she landed a full time job as a pharmacist in Regina. With this job security and the income it provided, she was able to sponsor her mother and her brother and, for the first time in seven years, was able to spend her birthday with her family. In this way, not only did IAF help Bhavya re-enter her profession, but it help re-unite her family in Canada.

“Just imagine if you hadn’t approved that loan, I wouldn’t be a pharmacist right now. If I did not get this support, I would have gone back to work as a tech at a lower pay rate and below my skill level. I would not have been able to sponsor my mother, or my brother.”


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.