Partnering with communities

Members of the Dalhousie Medical School community are working hand-in-hand with the members of many other communities to build bridges and create change for the better—in the Maritimes and around the world. In partnership with local communities, wider health care, educational and professional communities, non-profit and business sectors, governments, and others, they’re improving health education, health service delivery, health innovation, and public health.

Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative promotes First Nations’ involvement in health education

Few young people from First Nations communities in the Maritimes currently pursue careers in the health professions. The Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative seeks to attract more young people from these communities into health careers, by creating links to schools and other organizations and holding such outreach events as a junior university for aboriginal youth. Junior university gives youth hands-on experience of what it’s like to prepare for a career in health and inspires them to prepare for university. This partnership, which links Dalhousie’s Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Professions with First Nations communities, is also working to expand First Nations content in the curricula of many health training programs, including medicine.

A junior university for Aboriginal health

African Nova Scotia Advisory Committee seeks to better serve community needs

The African Nova Scotia Advisory Committee is building bridges between African Nova Scotian communities and Dalhousie’s faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Professions. The committee aims to encourage and support more young African Nova Scotians to pursue careers in the health professions—for their own benefit and also for the benefit of African Nova Scotian communities, which will be better served by professionals who truly understand and appreciate their needs. With recent funding from the Government of Nova and support from Dalhousie’s Global Health Office, the committee is hiring a coordinator and charting a course for the future.

Dalhousie Medicine helps Tanzania establish a medical school of its own

Members of Dalhousie Medical School’s faculty are partnering with health and education institutions in Tanzania to help them build a new medical education program. Dalhousie faculty members are providing expertise and assistance in teaching methods, faculty development and curriculum development. Dalhousie’s Global Health Office is heavily involved in facilitating this groundbreaking partnership. In a separate initiative, senior members of Dalhousie’s medical faculty are helping Tanzanian communities develop the skills to mount small, focused research projects addressing health issues of particular concern to those communities.

Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick partners to launch innovation accelerator

Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick (DMNB) is the hub of a new partnership—Health+Life Science New Brunswick (H+LSNB)—that aims to bring research scientists, clinicians and private enterprise together to translate ideas into workable and potentially marketable solutions to pressing health problems. H+LSNB involves DMNB, the University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Community College, Horizon Health Network and other public and private partners in an effort to build a stronger life sciences sector in the province. A vibrant life sciences sector has the potential to launch new technologies and create jobs, while improving health care and the wellbeing of the public.

Nova Scotia Medical Education Network

Dalhousie Medical School is working with district health authorities and community physicians to create more educational placements for med students and residents in communities across Nova Scotia. Through the Nova Scotia Medical Education Network, the partners are recruiting family physicians and specialists to become preceptors, and providing them with opportunities to develop their teaching skills. The physicians, in turn, find that involving students and residents in their practice is a satisfying and stimulating way to hone their own knowledge and skills. Research shows that students and residents who complete part of their medical training in a smaller community are more likely to choose to practice in a smaller centre.

Walk in Our Shoes partners to take foot care to homeless people

Every Sunday evening at St. Andrews Church in Halifax, homeless and marginally housed people can come for supper and stay to have their feet looked after by registered foot care nurses. Dalhousie medical students and nursing students volunteer at the free clinic, known as Walk in Our Shoes Foot Care, where they learn the importance of foot care, particularly for marginalized members of society. Not only do homeless people walk all day in often ill-fitting shoes, many have underlying health issues that increase their risk of foot problems even more. The student volunteers observe and help the nurses assess and treat clients’ feet for problems like corns, ingrown toenails and plantar warts, and help fit them with new socks and shoes before they leave. Local merchants generously donate the socks and shoes, which the volunteers give out by the dozens every week.

Walk in Our Shoes was launched in the 1990s as part of Dalhousie Medical School’s population health program. Now the clinic is led by Dalhousie medical alumnus and faculty member, Dr. Colin Van Zoost, a general internist in Halifax/Dartmouth and associate professor in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Van Zoost coordinates the nurses, community partners and student volunteers, and is overseeing a team of Dalhousie medical students who are laying the groundwork for the clinic to be registered as a non-profit organization.

International Medical Graduates Multi-stakeholder Group

The International Medical Graduates (IMG) Multi-stakeholder Work Group is helping physicians who’ve received their medical credentials in other countries overcome barriers and take the necessary steps to become licensed to practice in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie Medical School is a leading member of this group and works with various partners to ensure the licensing process and access to training are fair and equitable. The IMG work group has created important collaborative programs, such as an online orientation to Canadian medical practice, clinical skills review sessions, an IMG Clerkship, and opportunities for IMGs to observe physicians in practice.

In addition to Dalhousie Medical School, the IMG work group includes the Association of International Physicians & Surgeons of NS, Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS), the College of Physicians & Surgeons of NS, Doctors Nova Scotia, Capital Health, provincial government departments, and other key stakeholders across the province. Nationally recognized as a best practice approach, the IMG Work Group is part of a larger initiative that covers 14 regulated fields, including nursing, pharmacy and dentistry.