Meet Dr. Francois Venne, family physician at the GMF-U Vallée-de-l'Or
Having been born and raised in Montreal and accustomed to living in a big city, Dr. Francois Venne describes himself as someone who is “Very urban.” After completing his MD degree at Université de Montréal, Dr. Venne began exploring his options for residency. “Val d’Or charmed me,” he says. “I knew for a long time that I wanted to complete my residency in family medicine.” Although staying in Montreal was among his options, he discovered that working in rural areas brings more diversity to the practice of medicine, “It takes versatility to practice far away from major centres.”
Dr. Venne has many interests, which helped bring him to family medicine. “It's a field that allows you to be close to people. You become a specialist of the whole human body.” In addition to his practice at the GMF-U de la Vallée-de-l'Or, Dr. Venne also teaches and works in hospitalization, including the intensive care and geriatrics units.
Another factor that attracted Dr. Venne to a rural area is his desire to help Indigenous Peoples. In addition to his other responsibilities, Dr. Venne works as a family physician at the Mino Pimatigiwin clinic, bi-weekly, where he sees many Cree and Algonquian patients living in Val-d’Or. “To take care of them, you need to understand them and their history. You do not need to know how to speak their language, but learning some words is a good step.” Learning about their history is key to understanding their current struggles and medical state.
Dr. Venne believes that health professionals should not be reluctant to reach out to Indigenous Peoples. “They have been neglected for a long time, but they are very welcoming; you just need to be flexible and open-minded.” GMF-U de la Vallée-de-l'Or offers two days of training for their residents specifically to learn more about Indigenous Peoples, so that they can be more effective as doctors.
Dr. Venne is also part of a team that is opening a new clinic to treat dependence problems in Val-d’Or. In this clinic, doctors will treat patients struggling with addiction, who also often develop psychosocial problems because of their substance abuse. Dr. Venne is already treating a number of patients that are struggling with those issues, but this clinic will be more accessible to everyone because of location and flexibility in the delivery of care. The clinic was set to open in downtown Val-d’Or this fall, but because of the current coronavirus pandemic, it is now on hold.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Venne received a call from the Public Health Department of Integrated Health and Social Services Centres (CISSS) Abitibi-Témiscamingue to become a medical officer in the field of sexually transmissible and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) in the region. He gladly accepted the offer, as this is another area that interests him. “In Abitibi, there are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, and we have a hard time getting people tested.” By taking on this new role, Dr. Venne hopes that other family physicians will be more comfortable testing, treating, and working to prevent transmission of STBBIs.
Dr. Venne offers another reason why he enjoys working in a rural area such as Val-d’Or. “We all know each other, we joke around and everyone is extremely competent. This creates a nice working atmosphere; we develop work techniques to be more efficient with patients as a team.” Dr. Venne adds that it is very stimulating to work in this type of environment. “I never stop learning, I often have to rely on myself to find answers to my questions.”
Dr. Venne urges medical students who are approaching residency to explore rural areas. They are challenging, exciting, and rewarding areas to learn in.