Dialogue McGill Training & Retention Program

Better communication, for better care

The McGill Program

The McGill Training and Retention Program is geared toward ensuring that health and social services are provided to residents of Quebec in both French and English. As we work toward improving the health and well-being of the Anglophone population, the McGill Retention Project is a significant part of the work that we do in the community.

The objectives of this program are accomplished through:

  • Increasing the number of bilingual students studying in the health and social services field
  • Increasing the number of students returning to the area after their studies
  • Improving the English-language skills of health and social services professionals through free conversation sessions

If you would like to learn more and explore the overall vision of this project check out the Dialogue McGill site.

The Language Training Program

The Language Training Program for professional purposes is designed to better equip the health and social services network to provide English-language services that meet the needs of Quebec English-speaking communities. We hold 5-week FREE sessions twice a year (Fall & Winter) in a 1-on-1 conversation style learning either online or in-person.

The Retention Program

The retention program is made up of multiple areas designed to increase the number of health and social service professionals in order to meet the needs of the English communities. The main area is the Bursary program, which helps local students in CEGEP, University and Vocational levels complete their desired studies in the Health field.

Not just for McGill students

The McGill Bursary

A significant part of the retention program is providing bursaries to students pursuing studies in the health and social services sector who are dedicated to returning to the area to put their education into practice. Generally, the bursary is open to students from selected Quebec regions who:

  • Are Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have resided in a selected Quebec region for at least 24 months;
  • Have appropriate English and French language skills to provide health and social services at a Quebec institution that offers those services;
  • Are pursuing studies in a government recognized educational institution;
  • Are currently accepted into or pursuing full-time studies in a government recognized health and social services program that permits the students to work professionally in Quebec upon completion of studies;
  • Are registered full-time during the relevant academic year;
  • Are committed, following completion of studies, to return to a selected Quebec region to work in the field of health and social services in a public health and social services institution or related organization for a minimum of one year per bursary awarded;
  • Agree, upon completion of studies, to participate in any follow-up, monitoring or evaluation of the Program conducted by the McGill Project and/or the community network.

The Bursary application period for this school year is OPEN. The deadline for submission is May 7th, 2024 before 5pm. To receive or submit an application, please contact the bursary coordinator below.

Healthcare & Social Service Testimonials

explore local career options through their eyes

Choosing a career is a difficult task! At Vision, we want you to know about all of your options. In this section, we will explore careers in health and social services. As well as providing you with information, we will periodically feature a testimonial by a professional in a specific field explaining why they chose a career in health and social services!

Danielle Gagnon – Occupational Therapist

My name is Danielle, and I am an occupational therapist, here in Gaspe. I graduated from my master’s in occupational therapy in December of 2020, from Laval University. To be completely honest, 2 weeks before the application deadlines in university, I can remember crying in front of my computer, with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I applied in Occupational Therapy, not really knowing what to expect, but today I can say that it was one of the best decisions of my life!

Occupational therapists are the health professionals that help people function in their everyday life. We enable people to do what they must do (their responsibilities), but also what they want to do in order to give their life a meaning. As the saying goes, “A doctor may save your life, but an occupational therapist helps you live it”! Although we can work with all age groups and many different health conditions, I personally am working in the mental health field. Having the chance to be a McGill bursary recipient myself, this opportunity gave me the time and space to put create and build the Occupational therapy mental health service, here in Gaspe. What I love most about occupational therapy is, for me, the balance between science and creativity our job requires, as well as allowing us a chance to really make a difference in people’s life.

Tara Simpson – Audiologist

I am one of those lucky people who get to say “I’m from Gaspé.” However, it did not make it any easier for me to discover what career I wanted to pursue. Growing up in town, I went to English elementary school, high school, and then made the obvious transition and obtained a DEC from the CEGEP in Natural Sciences. At this point in my life, if someone asked me, “what would you like to do when you ‘grow up’?”, my answer was simply, “not sure, but I know I like science and that I want to help people.”
Based on those two ideas, I continued on and completed a Double Major in Biology and Neuropsychology from Bishop’s University. Even after three years of University, I had no clear picture of what it was that I wanted to do exactly, only that the healthcare field was very appealing to me.  Two years later (one that I spent in Québec City at l’Université de Laval improving my French skills and the second working for a pharmaceutical company in Montréal), it finally hit me: I wanted to be an Audiologist! It was a way I could use science, help people, but also relate to them. As a child, I had experienced symptoms like hearing loss, ear pain, and tinnitus because of a history of repeated ear infections.
After a two year intensive French Master’s program at Ottawa University, I was finally an Audiologist, and I’m still thrilled about it today!

In audiology, there is a merge of “technical practice,” using different equipment to preform evaluations, and “practical practice,” where you analyse results. Based on the results and knowledge of the hearing system, it is our role to infer how these results can impact the hearing capacities of a given patient. I thoroughly enjoy working with patients of all ages and I’m lucky to be able to – although, I have to admit I see more adults then children.  After discussing their case history and completing an evaluation, together we get to look at concrete results and focus on solutions to improve their specific hearing needs. It is very rewarding to see people staying connected or becoming reconnected and functional, by simply improving their hearing situation.

There has never been a doubt in my mind that Gaspé is right place for me to work and live. After having lived 7 years away from home (and dreaming of coming back soon after I left), I know how important it is for me to be close to my family members and friends who live there too. I am also getting to see what a joy it is to raise my young family near these very same people. Not to mention the other perks, one of them being traffic free mornings! This makes for a stress free and short commute each day. Weekends are almost always filled with a trip out snowshoeing and/or skiing in the winter and bicycle rides and beach time in the summer. With the great outdoors as your playground there are almost no limits!

Heidi Adams – Pharmacist

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a pharmacist. I grew up with parents who worked at a pharmacy and spoke highly of pharmacists since I was a child. I loved the special trust and connection they had with their patients.  After graduating from the Gaspe Polyvalent High School I went on to obtain my DEC (diplôme d’études collégial) in natural sciences. I then moved to Sherbrooke to attend Bishop’s University. I graduated from there with a bachelor’s of science with a concentration in health sciences and a minor in psychology. I then applied to multiple pharmacy schools. Sadly, there are no English universities who offer the pharmacy program in Quebec and because I wanted to continue studying in English I applied to pharmacy schools across Canada. I interviewed at both Waterloo University in Ontario and at UBC in Vancouver. I fell in love with the west coast the moment I stepped off the plane. Moving across the country far away from family and friends was not easy but I knew that it would be worth it. I also knew that I would not be on the west coast forever as my heart was and will forever be in the Gaspésie. 

Today I am in my fourth and final year of pharmacy school. I have a contract signed with the Jean Coutu pharmacy in Chandler and Grand-River where I will start working as a full time pharmacist after graduation. I am looking forward to coming back home after being away for almost a decade. While I enjoyed my time away from home and had the chance to explore new places, I know there is no better place to live, work, and raise a family than the beautiful Gaspésie. 

Thérèse Synnott – Pediatric Nurse

As a teenager, I was uncertain about my future. I didn’t think I had a passion so a school guidance counselor helped me make that huge decision to enroll in College as a nurse. It wasn’t always clear in my mind how satisfying and fulfilling it would be at that stage of my life. When I finished my academic requirements I headed to university to continue for a community certificate. After getting my license, I worked a few years in the hospital but realized that my calling was definitely as a community nurse. Having a chance to develop a trusted relationship with a family, support them, provide them with the help and care they need is like nothing else. This career brings me such a sense of accomplishment that I have no doubt today that I made the right choice!

Tracey Jones – Physiotherapist

I was born and raised in the small town of Gaspé.  I completed a degree in health sciences at the English section of the local college (Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles).  I had known for many years that I wanted to pursue studies in the healthcare field, but was not sure in what sector. After much reflection, and many hours of volunteer work in different areas, I decided on physical therapy. In the fall of 1991, I moved to Montréal and completed a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at McGill University.  I graduated in the spring of 1994 and moved to Québec City to complete my internship. I then moved back to Gaspé with my husband in 1995.

I grew up in an Anglophone home and completed all my studies in English. When I made the decision to move back to the coast,  I was concerned that my French language skills would not be up to par. I did struggle to a certain extent at first but with time (and a lot of patience) I slowly improved and I can now say that I am comfortable working in French. 

Physical therapy is a very rewarding career. Through the study of movement, physiotherapists work to enhance and maintain physical function in individuals of all ages. What I like most about my job is helping people attain their goals and be able to participate in the activities they enjoy. Over the years I have worked in a variety of fields. Recently, I have developed a passion for pediatrics. Every day I work with amazing children and their families.  
Looking back, the decision I made to move home to the Gaspé Coast was the right one.  I have raised my family close to nature and I am privileged to have many family members and childhood friends close by. My daughters have close ties to both the English and the French community.  My two minute commute to work along the stunning York River, picnic dinners on Haldimand Beach, and  weekend camping trips in  Forillon National Park are just a few of the perks.  
My past, my family, my roots, and my future all belong to the Gaspé Coast.

Kristin McCallum – Auxiliary Nurse

I have been an auxiliary nurse since 2006 when I graduated from Algonquin College’s RPN program. I spent my first 6 years working on a Post-partum Maternity Unit in Ottawa, before moving back to Gaspé in 2011.  My first few years in Gaspé were spent as a float nurse on numerous units at the local hospital, long term care facility as well as in the CLSC system.  I was able to gain invaluable experience as a float nurse in so many interesting departments; including post-operative, geriatric, pediatric, maternity, end of life care and family medicine.

Four years ago I took the leap into the private sector and am happily the nurse at Clinique Synergie now.  With our incredible team I provide liaison services between our doctors and patients.  My other tasks here involve triaging, assisting on minor surgeries, laboratory follow ups, industrial nursing services and general clinic operational tasks.  Helping our doctors ensure that their patients receive the best care possible is very rewarding and we love the relationships we have been able to foster as a family medicine facility. 

Gabrielle Labbé – Masters of Social Work Student

My name is Gabrielle (she/her), and I am in my final year of studies in social work at l’Université de Sherbrooke. I grew up in Gaspé where I was lucky to be connected and raised with both the Anglophone and Francophone linguistic communities.

I knew Bishop’s was for me because of how it reminded me of home. I completed my BA in applied psychology at Bishop’s before moving on to l’Université de Sherbrooke to complete a program that would allow me to practice as a social worker. I realized that social work was the right field of work for me through my experiences working in group homes, but also with the help and guidance of some professors. Social work is a discipline that aligns with my values – promoting community, empowerment, and social justice. I love seeing individuals, families, and communities flourish to their full potential, and as a social worker, I can assist them in doing so.

I’m grateful to have been able to call Lennoxville my temporary home for the past six (6) years, but I’m very excited to come home. I appreciate all the support I have received from my community back home, now it’s time for me to be able to give back. My goal is to ensure that anglophones have access to care that fits their specific needs. I plan on doing that by working alongside the various institutions and by involving the community.  I can’t wait to be back!

For more information, please contact

Bursary Applications: Sophie Wheeler by email at s.wheeler@vgpn.ca
Language Training Coordinator: Emma McGinnis by email at emma.mcginnis@vgpn.ca
or call the office at 418-368-3212.