Part of our series: FMHS community members from away – The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) is made up of diverse communities, including people from across Canada and around the world. This series recognizes those from outside the province who have chosen to bring their talents and expertise to McGill University. Thank you for all that you contribute!

Ottawa-bred Haley Abugov came to Montreal to study at McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing (ISoN), earning her Master of Science (applied) in Nursing degree in 2018. Besides nursing, along the way, she also learned French.  

Throughout her three years at the ISoN, and in the time since, Haley’s French-language skills, which she had considered to be very basic when she arrived, improved to the point that she decided to build her career in Montreal and now thrives in the bilingual professional environments of the city’s health care institutions. 

Haley chose McGill for her graduate studies because, “It was the only school in Canada to offer a Master of Science in Nursing without [the prerequisite of] a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.” Knowing that she wanted to eventually work in a patient-centered role, after graduating from Dalhousie University with a BSc in Microbiology and Immunology, she debated between studying nursing or physiotherapy. “I was not made for a laboratory!”  

Haley credits her mother’s influence and inspiration for helping her find her academic and career path. Back in 1984 her mom also graduated from the very same ISoN program, “not long after the program’s inception [in 1974],” Haley notes. “When we found out the program was still around and still one-of-a kind in Canada, my fate was sealed, I guess you could say.” 

While some of her peers arrived from out of province with little to no previous French knowledge, Haley had studied the language in high school but didn’t use it at all between the time of her high school graduation in 2010 and starting at McGill in 2015.  

Yet Haley doesn’t think language was a barrier for her small class, in terms of, “enjoying the program or finishing the program,” she says, explaining that in preparation for their nursing “stages” (internships), many of her colleagues took the free French courses offered through Dialogue McGill. “I think it really helped those people who came in with much less French than I had,” Haley says, noting that many of her peers passed the provincial French proficiency exam, stayed in Quebec, and are now also working in bilingual institutions. 

Licensed in both Ontario and Quebec, Haley decided to stay in Montreal partly, “because I found an institution I really enjoyed when I worked at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.” Today, as she raises her young daughter to be fluent in both of Canada’s official languages, Haley is “extremely happy” she got to “re-learn” French in her twenties. “I now consider myself bilingual and will continue to be going forward.” 

“I would say the most rewarding part is the team I work with,” Haley says about her current role at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), where she is Quality Assurance Officer for the Stem Cell Transplant and Immune Effector Cell Therapy Program. “We all have the same vision; to create and sustain a program that delivers the best quality care to the hematology/oncology patients at the MUHC, in both the pediatric and adult populations.”