Françoise Filion’s outstanding contributions to community health in Quebec were publicly recognized and applauded when the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec awarded her its prestigious Prix Florence in the Health Promotion category.
Françoise Filion’s lifelong passion for improving the quality of life of marginalized and underserved communities began decades ago when her parents started a soup kitchen in her hometown of La Tuque. “Since then, I was drawn to helping people in situations of homelessness,” she recalls. It was, perhaps, inevitable that as a nurse and an educator, she would focus on community nursing, a specialty that has allowed her to make a difference one community at a time. On June 15, 2022, her outstanding contributions to community health in Quebec were publicly recognized and applauded when the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) awarded Professor Filion its prestigious Prix Florence in the Health Promotion category.
Professor Filion won the award for spearheading the establishment of the very first nurse-led clinic in Quebec, the McGill-Bonneau Clinic, which opened in 2017. Subsequently, thanks to donor support, the concept expanded to include five additional clinics, with all six falling under the umbrella of the Ingram School of Nursing’s Community Nurse Clinic Network (CNCN). Key to the CNCN’s success is the fact that each clinic is located within physical structures belonging to community organizations that serve marginalized populations. As Professor Filion explains, “This helps create a level of trust, which is so important for people who have been disconnected from the healthcare system. They come to us because they feel safe.” The CNCN also serves an important teaching role, providing students with a firsthand look at the realities and challenges of community nursing.
While she is both humbled and thrilled to have won this award, Professor Filion is quick to point out that innovation is a hallmark of McGill Nursing. ”Historically, our school has always been ahead of the curve, with a focus on recognizing and building on strengths,” she notes. Examples include the Strengths Based Nursing and Healthcare model developed by Professor Laurie Gottlieb, as well as the McGill Model of Nursing, developed under the guidance of the late F. Moyra Allen, a distinguished McGill Nursing professor whose outstanding contributions to nursing education, research and practice included the establishment of a foot clinic for marginalized populations with diabetes.
“My idea came along at the right time. I see myself as part of a chain of people who helped me turn this dream into reality,” says Professor Filion. That chain began with the leadership and support of Associate Dean and ISoN Director Anita Gagnon, who, in 2016, gave Professor Filion a mandate to pursue the establishment of an ISoN-managed, nurse-led community clinic. Professor Filion also is grateful to Professor Hugo Marchand, who provided essential logistical expertise to get the project up and running and who serves as Project Director of the CNCN. The chain also includes Mr. Nicolas Pagot, at the time one of the directors of the Accueil Bonneau, who greeted Professor Filion’s idea of opening a nurse-led clinic on the Accueil Bonneau’s premises with an enthusiastic, “Yes – this is exactly what we need!”
Professor Filion believes that this is an exciting time for the nursing profession in general and for the ISoN in particular. Nurses are demanding more autonomy to innovate, which bodes well for the healthcare system. “Winning this award puts our school on the map as a leader in community nursing in Quebec,” she concludes.