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Ici on parle! How to Actively Engage Francophone Patients –
Tools for French and English-Speaking Physicians

Principal Investigators: P.E. Timony, A.P. Gauthier, B. Sanou, D. Barbeau-Rodrigue, D. Smith, M. Cusack, M. French

The Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (CRaNHR) in collaboration with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine are offering a unique continuing education and professional development (CEPD) opportunity which aims to help improve the Francophone patient experience with their family physicians. Our previous work revealed certain gaps in French-language health services in Northern Ontario.  For instance, there exists a maldistribution of physicians who are competent enough to conduct their practice in French in the province, with rural and northern communities finding themselves particularly underserved.

This maldistribution is concerning given the high Francophone population in the north.  Certainly, physicians who chose to practice in communities with a large Francophone population will experience certain challenges, particularly those who speak little to no French. In fact, recent interviews with such family physicians have revealed several interesting challenges when serving French-speaking patients; these included a lack of continued educational opportunities concerning Francophone populations and gaps in the Active Offer of French language health services.

Ici on parle banner reading How to actively engage francophone patients

Given the link between patients’ health and provider communication, it is essential that physicians who have chosen to practice in Northern Ontario, both those who can and who cannot speak French, are equipped with strategies to offering patient-centered care; which includes offering services in the patient’s language of preference.  


In an attempt to respond to these gaps, we have developed an education program targeted towards family physicians which focuses on the communication needs of Northern Ontario Francophones.  This program consists of three phases:


  • Phase 1 is an initial assessment in which family physicians, their receptionist, and their patients are surveyed. 

  • In phase 2, family physicians receive feedback regarding their individual survey results as a method of identifying strengths and weaknesses, they are then directed to supporting literature and are invited to participate in a peer-led workshop to develop a plan to refine and implement strategies for improved French Language Health Services within their practice. 

  • Phase 3 consists of a post-program evaluation and reflective activity in which physicians, receptionists and patients once again complete a survey as a means of measuring the impact of the education program.


Funded by the Northern Ontario Academic Medicine Association 2016 and the Consortium national de formation en santé – Volet Laurentienne 2016.

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