Because I CAN...

A Profile - Michèle Ouellet, volunteer, citation editor
By Teresa Luk, volunteer journalist

Michèle Ouellet, a native of Quebec, Canada, was a software developer, and with her husband shared a passion for Japanese language and culture. In 2007, when an opportunity came up to work in Japan, they relocated promptly. In Japan, as a non-working spouse, Michèle immersed herself into language and culture, with a special focus on visual arts. While she had studied intaglio printmaking in Montreal before, she now broadened her studies to include moku-hanga, sumi-e and gyotaku.*

Without the pressure of regular deadlines, Michèle found herself wanting to give back through volunteer work. As a foreigner, the language barrier made it difficult to volunteer locally. Online virtual volunteering, however, posed no such constraints. As she began to seek opportunities that were challenging and educational, she came upon ICAN. Though she had never heard of ICAN before, this organization was recruiting and it seemed to be a good fit. How right this turned out to be.

Michele Oullet

Michèle Ouellet in Higashi-Matsuyama,
Saitama, Japan. March 4, 2010.
Authorized for use by Mineo Yamamoto,

After signing on in July 2010 as a web research intern on the Breast Cancer Team, she was soon tapped to become assistant citation editor due to her quick grasp of issues and exceptional work performance. Last year, when Leora Bentov, LB, RN, PhD left ICAN to pursue grant work, Michèle became ICAN's new citation editor.

Michèle explained the scope of activities required for each job function during the time she has volunteered. When working as a web research intern, she noted that it involved researching medical databases online and retrieving relevant and timely abstracts about a given topic. As assistant editor, her duties changed to a formal editing role. Taking information gathered by research interns, Michèle organized and reformatted it to be consistent with other articles released by ICAN.

In addition, as a non-specialist, she reviewed the documents extracted by the web research interns, pointing out and correcting format discrepancies, following the hyperlinks and checking that the document accurately reflected the material found in the databases.

In her current role as citation editor, Michèle's responsibilities include direct online interfacing with research team leaders and web research interns, identifying and correcting problem areas. Furthermore, she guides interns in the formatting of documents according to ICAN standards. She finds this to be a welcome challenge since in her former profession, she communicated mostly with machines.

Michèle says: "I am a member of the ICAN community. There is a strong bond that grows through email, even though I have never met anyone I work with. In my position, I have come to know Regina Klopfer and Marcia Horn best, but have met many other selfless, eager team leaders and web research interns whom I find very engaging and inspiring."

Such strong sentiments are, in fact, mutual. Marcia Horn, CEO, ICAN observed, "Michèle's meticulous eye for detail and zest for quality control never cease to amaze us. Volunteers mentored by Michèle or whose work she reviews end up gaining an enhanced skill set and level of confidence going forward." Regarding Michèle's contribution, "We continually remark how fortunate ICAN is in having Michèle as part of our senior Research Services leadership. We have complete confidence in her work." added Regina Marie Klopfer, ICAN's Director of Research Services and Strategic Planning.

Regarding how to succeed at ICAN, Michèle suggested: "You don't really need any particular kind of work experience or educational background, I feel. Of course, for ICAN's Research Services, you have to be fluent with word processing, email and web search. As for personal traits, you have to be very critical in terms of what passes and what does not. Finally, I think you need to practice psychology and diplomacy."

Through volunteering at ICAN, Michèle feels that her work is rewarding because she has the chance to meet with a community of caring and hard-working people; people who really place cancer patients and their families first.


Download a PDF version of this page.