Making a difference in our Francophone communities: Meet Dr. John Joanisse

Posted on Friday, October 12, 2018

Translated from an article by Claudine Auger, reprinted from the Bureau des affaires francophone

A foundation of Interprofessionalism

Dr. John Joanisse

A native of Ontario, John Joanisse attended Francophone schools even though English was the language spoken at home. "My mother was Irish and my father was Francophone and grew up in the U.S. But my parents were visionaries: they understood the importance of speaking French. You could say I’m Franco-Ontarian," Dr. Joanisse says with a laugh. Indeed he is! The general practitioner’s wide-ranging curiosity led him to constantly explore new career paths in both languages. He spent a few years in Western Canada, and then in Kapuskasing, Ontario "in French, in an anti-Francophone environment…" before putting down roots at Hôpital Montfort.

Sensitive to the challenges faced by minority communities and conscious of the importance of medical training in French, Dr. Joanisse has been a member of the BAF since its founding. "Oh, I was around," he humorously explains, referring to the dark period of "the Montfort Crisis." Alongside Jean Roy and Jeanne Drouin, he provided support by opening some doors. "I was VP of Academic Affairs at Montfort at the time, and I had a few memorable discussions with the dean," recalls Dr. Joanisse, tireless when speaking about the conflicts that shaped this narrative.

From obstetrics and emergency care at the beginning of his career, to geriatrics, orthogeriatrics and rehabilitation—his current areas of focus, one belief reappears as a common thread throughout his journey: the benefits of interdisciplinarity. Very early in his career, at a time when it was not at all common, Dr. Joanisse joined forces with nurse practitioners. "I had this vision of interdisciplinarity: working together as health professionals to train super teams, promote the profession of nurse practitioners and level this pyramid where the doctor is at the top. And the BAF, which was always led by committed, visionary individuals, supported this idea," says Dr. Joanisse, with a hint of pride for this long-running effort. While he currently serves as medical director at the Saint-Louis Residence, he still loves working in a shared environment with geriatric nurses.

He now devotes his efforts to geriatrics, orthogeriatrics and rehabilitation. "The elderly pose a particular challenge in the case of a fracture, as they often have more complex medical and social needs. This calls for a multidisciplinary team. And in the context of an aging population, you need to get the attention of the next generation who don’t get to spend a month in geriatrics, as is generally the case in other faculties. With the BAF, we’re trying to fix this problem and fill that void," concludes Dr. Joanisse, determined to support this cause.

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