Consortium national de formation en santé 2020 Excellence Scholarship recipient: Michelle Leung

Faculty of Nursing bilingual student, Michelle Leung, recognized for leadership in Francophone community | Michelle Leung, étudiante bilingue du programme bilingue de la Faculty of Nursing et du Campus Saint-Jean, reconnue pour son leadership au sein de la communauté francophone.

19 June 2020

Fourth-year Faculty of Nursing student Michelle Leung is no stranger to language barriers.  Her family immigrated from China to Canada in 2007, and she’s witnessed firsthand the hardships that can stem from not receiving health services in one’s first language. 

After volunteering at long-term care homes and the University of Alberta Hospital, Leung knew nursing would be in her future — and she’d ensure the care she provided would be as accessible as possible to official language minority populations.

“The most rewarding aspect [of being a bilingual nursing student] is being able to do Active Offer with my patients—the instantaneous connection that is established between me and patients when they realize I can provide care for them in their own language is incredible,” said Leung. 

For her commitment to the Francophone community and active participation in student life within the Bilingual program, she was awarded a prestigious CNFS Prix D'Excellence 2020 scholarship. 

The CNFS (Consortium national de formation en santé) is “a grouping of 11 university and college educational institutions offering programs in French in various health disciplines to improve access to health training programs in French.”

Leung spent some time discussing her experience as a student in the bilingual program; her answers are instructive to anyone not only considering a career in bilingual nursing, but also for those interested in learning more about the importance of health care services in French in Western Canada and the needs of official language minorities.  


What do you enjoy most about the bilingual nursing program at the Faculty of Nursing and Faculté Saint-Jean?

I enjoy the tight-knit bilingual nursing community the most; in my year there are less than 20 bilingual students, so we know each other by name, have a little Facebook group between us, and are always keeping in touch. I’ve found this closeness I’ve experienced in the bilingual program reflects the integral nature of the community within Francophone culture. For instance, just as bilingual students gather together during the Fall Social (an event where bilingual students of all years establish relationships through team-building activities, setting up first-year students with mentors from higher years of the program, and sharing a meal), members of the Francophone community gathered together to celebrate the French language, eat, and dance to music at a French spelling bee contest I volunteered at. We also gather every winter in the heart of the francophone community to partake in the festival of Le canoe volant, a celebration of francophone and métis heritage in the west. 

How do you plan to demonstrate your commitment to the Francophone minority community once you begin working as an RN? 

Once I begin working as an RN, I plan to continue exercising Active Offer with my patients as I have practiced throughout my degree, and through my volunteer activities within the Francophone community. As well, I hope to be involved in the translation of health materials in my workplace so I can make health information more accessible to francophones living in an official language minority context. 

How you do actively participate in student life at the University of Alberta? 

I have been a representative of my bilingual nursing year for the Bilingual Student Advisory Committee since my first year of university. This advisory consists of bilingual nursing students of all years and faculty members from both the Faculty of Nursing and Faculté Saint-Jean. Using an appreciative inquiry approach, students and faculty members collaborate to address matters identified by students in the program and to organize community engagement activities for students and bilingual program alumni. 

Most notably in this role, I organized a free CPR session with support from the CNFS for bilingual nursing students. In collaboration with student colleagues, I planned and hosted the annual Fall Social for the program. As well, I facilitated a workshop highlighting the bilingual nursing program at the Journée des Carrières en Santé en Français (Health Career Day in French) at CSJ, an event to promote health science programs in French to high school students.

What are your professional aspirations for the future?   

As I am approaching my fourth year (and soon graduation!!!), I plan to do my clinical placements in community health and serve the Francophone population. I have immensely enjoyed my experience thus far in the Francophone community whether it was during clinical hours or while volunteering. I recognize the need for community-based French-language health care services, and I hope to combine my passion for community health with my dedication to improving the language accessibility of health services.





Interested in learning more about the Baccalautréat ès science​s​ infirmières​ (​bilingue​)​​/Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Bilingual) at the Faculty of Nursing? Click here: