Mois de la francophonie: Meet the Faculty of Medicine’s Dr. Jean Roy

Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine

By Sébastien Chevrier

Advisor, Communications and Marketing, Faculty of Medicine

Mois de la Francophonie banner
Dr. Jean Roy, an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, and an alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine, has been serving as President of the Association des médecins francophones du Canada (the Canadian Association of Francophone Doctors) since 2023. A highly accomplished Quebec-born physician, Dr. Roy has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of family medicine and medical education in Canada, particularly within the Franco-Ontarian community.
Dr. Jean Roy

Driven by a deep passion for medicine and education, Dr. Roy has devoted his career to both providing exceptional patient care and mentoring the next generation of physicians. Within the Faculty he is credited with being the visionary behind the Medicine, Ethics and Humanities program.

At the core of his work lies his unwavering commitment to Francophonie. He has played a pivotal role in advancing Francophone medicine, both in Ontario and abroad, notably in Benin. Through his involvement within the Francophone community and his dedication to the field of medicine, Dr. Roy is an inspiring role model for Francophone students and physicians alike.

Can you tell us about your career path since graduating from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine? 

Even before embarking on my medical journey, drawing from my experiences working in Francophone healthcare settings, particularly as an orderly in Ottawa, I recognized the importance of receiving healthcare services in one’s native language. After completing my university training in Ottawa, where French-language medical education was not yet available, I pursued a residency in family medicine at Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal. This step allowed me to refine my proficiency in French medical language. While I had hoped for the availability of a French-language MD program in Ottawa at the time, I am delighted that the French stream has now been available for nearly 30 years.

Following my residency, I played an active role in establishing the Family Medicine residency program at Montfort Hospital and contributed to the development of the French stream MD program at the University of Ottawa. Immersing myself in medical education, I took on various leadership roles such as supervisor of the Family Medicine Unit, director of clerkship, and later served as vice-dean of Francophone Affairs at the Faculty of Medicine for over 16 years, strengthening my commitment to promoting French healthcare services and offering high-quality education in French to the Francophone community.

During my tenure in Francophone Affairs, I spearheaded initiatives aimed at promoting Francophone research in medical education and fostering an interest in research among clinicians. Notably, I established the Centre d'appui pédagogique en santé pour la francophonie (the Health Education Support Centre for la Francophonie) and played a pivotal role in the creation of a chair in medical education in collaboration with the Faculty of Education and the Institut du Savoir Montfort. With a strong focus on Faculty development, I have been actively involved in pedagogical training and clinical supervision for over three decades, contributing to the recognition of Monfort Hospital as a teaching hospital. Since 2021, I have been co-leading an advanced longitudinal preceptorship curriculum of approximately twenty hours at Montfort Hospital, collaborating closely with Dr. Lyne Pitre, and my colleagues on the Family Health Care Team at Montfort Hospital. Additionally, as a member of the Faculty of Medicine's undergraduate medical training reform committee, I played a key role in developing e-learning modules for students and faculty members. Furthermore, I am overseeing the CNFS-MD program, managing its network of internships, and fostering collaborations with academic supervisors across Canada. 

You have also worked to improve the quality of medical education internationally, and more broadly to integrate the humanities into your practice and teachings. What did this look like?

Internationally, over the past two decades, I have collaborated with Dr. Marie-Hélène Chomienne, an assistant professor and clinician researcher at the Institut du Savoir Montfort, to provide mentorship to students and residents from Benin through structured and supervised clinical internships. In the last four years, we have been fortunate to receive generous funding from the Foundation Mérieux in France, enabling us to deliver primary healthcare training with a specific focus on infectious disease prevention and humanities. This training is offered in person in Benin, and during the pandemic we successfully transitioned to a virtual platform. We remain committed to supporting participants by engaging with them in their clinics and communities to help implement desired changes.

My background in philosophy, prior to pursuing studies in medicine, has likely influenced my commitment to integrating the Medicine, Ethics and Humanities program into the Faculty’s curriculum. This program has facilitated various initiatives, including international summer schools, the appointment of an artist-in-residence, and lunchtime conferences. Currently, I oversee the ethics and humanity curriculum within the Family Medicine residency program at Montfort Hospital.

I strive to instill in future healthcare professionals the importance of incorporating humanities and social sciences into their practice. I believe that a holistic approach to healthcare, which encompasses an understanding of societal and health-related issues beyond medical knowledge alone, is essential for providing compassionate and effective patient care. Healthcare professionals must not only have the clinical expertise, but must also demonstrate empathy, attentive listening, and a commitment to advocating for their patients’ well-being.

Dr. Jean Roy leisure

What do you think are the essential qualities to be a great leader in the medical field?

Throughout my career, I have had many reflections on leadership. In collaboration with Dr. Geneviève Moineau, who served as Vice-Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education at the time, I had the opportunity of developing the leadership curriculum that I have been delivering to students within the Faculty of Medicine over the past fifteen years. Self-reflection is a means to uncover and cultivate effective leadership skills. A fundamental aspect of effective leadership is clarity regarding one’s responsibilities, particularly when faced with important decisions. For myself, I always assess whether a particular project or initiative will ultimately benefit the health of the Francophone population, which serves as the overarching objective of my endeavours, especially those related to young physicians’ training. A successful leader serves as the conductor of their team, leading by example and surrounding themselves with individuals who have acquired skills equal to or greater than their own. They provide guidance, encouragement, and support to help team members reach their full potential. Trust is key, as is providing team members with the necessary tools and autonomy to innovate and create new solutions.

I am confident that my leadership approach has been effective throughout my career, and that I have contributed to the growth and enhanced reputation of the Faculty of Medicine, while elevating the profile of Francophonie within the medical field and family medicine both nationally and internationally.

What are the main challenges facing Francophone physicians in Canada today, and what advice would you give to a Francophone student or physician in Canada?

One of the main challenges we face is fostering greater inclusivity and promoting the active involvement of Francophone healthcare professionals across the country. Drawing upon my knowledge of Canada's Francophone communities, I am actively engaged in efforts to raise awareness of the Association des médecins francophones du Canada (the Canadian Association of Francophone Doctors). As an educator, I try to encourage the development of more participatory activities that have the potential to instigate tangible changes in clinical practice and enhance the health outcomes of the population.

Essential to this endeavour is the importance of not only mastering French medical language but also understanding the broader linguistic and cultural nuances of Francophone patients. It is important to seize every opportunity to engage with Francophone patients within their environment. Attentive listening and empathy are paramount for healthcare professionals in effectively addressing patients' questions, alleviating their fears, and addressing their concerns. We must help patients make the best decisions for themselves. 

Who are the people who have inspired you the most in your career? 

I have always admired leaders who serve with humility and prioritize active listening. I believe that is the key to success.

Nelson Mandela’s ability to set aside his past to support his country is indeed a true example of leadership. He exemplified profound humility and selflessness for the well-being of others. His exceptional human qualities played a pivotal role in uniting his country. It is both remarkable and inspiring. I am also moved by his emphasis on forgiveness. I believe that forgiveness is a powerful and transformative trait for any leader.

I am also inspired by my peers and always willing to collaborate with both past and current colleagues of the Francophone Affairs Office. While I have faced skepticism for trying to work with the ideas and methods of my predecessors, I embrace the opportunity to engage in constructive debates and discussions, recognizing they are the pathway to collective growth and improvement. The exchange of ideas leads to more comprehensive and effective solutions.

I strongly believe in the power of collaborative work and truly enjoy working with others. Without the commitment of colleagues who share the same dedication and passion, none of my achievements would have been possible.

Support the Faculty of Medicine today! 
Use the “Other designation” field on our online donation form and indicate your support towards the ''Office of Francophone Affairs at the Faculty of Medicine Fund'.