A focus on francophone health

From April 5-7, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) held its sixth Francophone Symposium at Laurentian University. Among the 100 participants were health professionals, health organizations, NOSM students and residents as well as community partners from across Northern Ontario gathered to explore dimensions of health care related to Francophone populations.

For the first time, NOSM collaborated with Acfas-Sudbury (Association francophone pour le savoir), an organization contributing to the advancement of research in all fields of science in Quebec and Francophone Canada, to present their respective conferences—the Francophone Symposium and the 25th Journée des sciences et du savoir—as a collaborative effort.

With a particular focus on health research for Francophones, the conference provided dynamic presentations, panels, and discussion. These activities focused on community networking, capacity building, health practices and services, as well as collaborative approaches designed to enhance effective health-care delivery for Francophones in Northern Ontario.

“We were honoured to welcome community members from across the North to participate in our sixth Francophone symposium,” said Danielle Barbeau-Rodrigue, Director of Francophone Affairs at NOSM. “As part of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s social accountability mandate, this symposium brings issues affecting Francophone populations to the forefront, resulting in improvements to the community and individual health of Northern Ontario.”

The breadth of topics reflected the diversity of challenges in conducting health research with a focus on Francophone people and communities. Speakers included Dr. Nicole Ranger, a second-year resident at NOSM in the Rural Health Stream of the Family Medicine Program who is undertaking her residency in Hearst; Dr. Alain Simard, Associate Professor of Immunology in the School’s Medical Sciences division; and, Dr. Denis Prud’homme, Associate Vice-President of Research and Scientific Director of the Institut du Savoir Montfort.

The delegates also had the opportunity to participate in the public launch of a series of online learning modules relating to the “active offer” (ensuring services in French are obvious, easily available and accessible) presented by the Réseau du mieux-être francophone du Nord de l’Ontario.

“In recent years, equitable access to health services, in a patient’s official language of choice, has become an important issue for all levels of governments within designated communities or communities with a strong Francophone population,” said Monique Rocheleau, Chair of NOSM’s Francophone Reference Group. “We welcomed the opportunity to discuss future plans and strategies to be developed as the medical school continues to strive to meet the needs of French-speaking patients throughout Northern Ontario for years to come.”

In addition, presentations were given from NOSM’s various academic and administrative portfolios to report back to the Francophone community about the School’s efforts to ensure the activities and initiatives of the School meet the needs of the Francophone community. Most importantly, these presentations included round-table discussions to seek input from participants about how NOSM can continue to improve upon meeting the needs of Francophones in Northern Ontario.

“Though we’re doing a lot of work with our students to prepare them for the realities of serving people across the North, we’re always striving to do more to teach students about responding to the needs of Francophone people and communities,” said Dr. Roger Strasser, Dean and CEO of NOSM. “The Active Offer is one way we can do this, and through our Francophone Affairs Unit and events like the Francophone Symposium, we are continuing to explore issues specific to Francophone health and learn how we can do better.”

source: news release

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