Given the tremendous, ongoing success of its miniécole de médecine, or Francophone mini medical school, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa is planning to repeat the experience─for students both here and elsewhere. The next miniécole will take place over two evenings this spring on the topics of children’s health (April 18) and adolescent health (April 25). This Canada-wide activity will be disseminated across the country─in French!
Although the Anglophone Mini Medical School began in 2003, it was not until 2008 that its Francophone counterpart, which was piloted for the first time on campus that same year, was officially integrated into the Faculty. Every year, professors from the department meet to set the themes for the medical courses to be offered in the miniécole’s program.
“It is the Faculty of Medicine’s duty to inform the community about health-related topics,” explained Joanne Myre, administrator of the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Francophone Affairs, which sponsors the miniécole in partnership with the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS). Coordination of the activity is handled by Joanne’s colleague Michèle Clermont. This year, the program will be discussing autism and attention deficit disorder in children and the prevention of suicide and eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) in adolescents.
Two information packed evenings
At the first evening on April 18 addressing children’s health, participants will learn more about autism and attention deficit order─both high-profile health problems shrouded in multiple misconceptions. Those in attendance will have the chance to learn about the true causes of these conditions, the scope of their clinical presentations, and the treatments available. The latest research will also be discussed.
The second evening on April 25 will address suicide and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia in adolescents. The evening will serve to demystify these issues, especially regarding which adolescents are at risk and what treatments are available. The evening will provide tools for identifying the underlying causes of these conditions and the means to screen for them among loved ones who may be affected.
These events are tailored to the university community as well as to college students and secondary students aged 14 and over who are considering a health care career. Health professionals, adults and seniors interested in learning more about the topics under discussion are welcome. Finally, University staff from all disciplines are also encouraged to attend one or both of the miniécole’s events.
The only miniécole de médecine offered in French!
The miniécole is all the more exceptional considering that it now reaches Francophone minority communities across Canada via videoconference─an effective and interactive way for people to learn more about popularized health topics via distance education.
“Since most of these communities are located in areas where French is not the majority language, the miniécole represents a unique opportunity to attend a high-quality lecture in French,” explained Nicole L. Lavoie, executive assistant to the director of operations for the University of Ottawa chapter of the CNFS, the organization helping to organize the Canada-wide delivery of the sessions by videoconference to minority communities.
“For the April program, 24 sites in seven provinces will be participating in the miniécole remotely,” added Isabelle Charbonneau, who is responsible for the recruitment of the sites and for the actual delivery. The organizers are expecting to have as many if not more participants attend via videoconference than attend on site.
“For a province such as Newfoundland and Labrador, the miniécole is the factor that rallies the health education sector around the delivery of French-language health services. Since this province lacks a French-language postsecondary educational institution, the miniécole constitutes an excellent awareness-raising initiative,” affirmed Joanne Myre. She went on to point out that the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa is the only one in North America to offer not only its medical program but also its mini medical school in both official languages.
For his part, the physician responsible for the miniécole, Dr. Denis Chauret, is very pleased with the positive impact that the upcoming miniécole will have on the community. “In addition to making the Faculty of Medicine better known, this high-quality activity in French will stimulate people’s interest in pursuing health care careers, or will, at the very least, enable them to become health ambassadors for their friends and family. It is also an opportunity for people who lack resources to benefit from the resources being offered.” He closed by encouraging the public to take part.