Address patient needs with excellent communication skills

The Communication Skills Program is responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of teaching communication skills across the continuum of medical education.

We support the Faculty of Medicine’s mission to prepare highly competent, caring and socially responsible physicians. We achieve this through teaching and learning activities that affirm a patient-centred approach and build communication skills for effective clinical, scholarly and collaborative practice.

Our philosophy

Developing competency in patient-doctor communications is an important part of medical training at Dalhousie Medical School because effective communication with patients can lead to improved health outcomes.

We subscribe to a skills-based approach grounded in the understanding that communication is a core clinical skill that can be learned, taught and enhanced over a lifetime of practice. As your communications skills improve, you will become a more empathetic and effective doctor.

In addition to patient-doctor communication, our program also focuses on communication skills within the health-care team.  We aim to foster skills in communication as well as collaboration.

Program Goals

Train medical students and residents to communicate effectively with patients and collaborators.

Enhance the communication skills of practicing physicians through continuing medical education initiatives.

Promote the importance of communication skills in medicine for physicians in their role as teachers/learners and collaborators within health care teams.

Good doctors are good communicators.


Our curriculum was designed with the diverse needs of a developing clinician in mind.  Our program can help to develop core medical interviewing skills by addressing issues, challengs and perceptul skills in medical communication.

Medical School

In medical school, communication skills are integrated into the Skilled Clinician program. Students take patient-centred medical histories and perform physical examinations during Med 1 and Med 2, working with volunteer patients.

In the clerkship years, students consolidate and build on communication skills as they engage in progressively more in-depth and challenging patient-doctor intractions that are relfective of the increasing complexity of practice within the larger health care team. There is additional communication skills training imbedded in PIERS during clerkship.


Moving along the continuum into residency, the teaching and learning of communication skills is broadened beyond the patient-doctor focus to include skills specific to the expanding role of residents as teachers, scholars and collaborators.  In PGY1 residents attend a communication skills workshop which allows them to practice advanced communication skills.

Continuing Professional Development and Faculty Development

As proponents of life-long learning, we acknowledge that faculty and practicing physicians may want to improve their communication skills. To address this need, we provide continuing professional development and faculty development training that is suited to the needs of practicing clinicians.

We offer guidance on how to effectively assess and evaluate the communication skills of your students and residents or help you to improve your own communication skills through the following offerings:

  • Faculty training on effective strategies for teaching and assessing communication skills to adequately prepare medical learners for CanMED's role of communicator (patient-doctor communication), collaborator (team dynamics and conflict management), and scholar (providing feedback, dealing with challenging learners).
  • Faculty of Medicine member training in feedback and evaluation skills
  • Identifying and working with faculty role models and "champions" of communication skills in medicine

For more information, visit the Faculty Development website.

Our People

Communications Skills faculty

Dr. Stuart Wright
Faculty Lead, Undergraduate Medical Education
Phone: 902-494-6307

Dr. Alison Dixon
Faculty Lead, Postgraduate Medical Education
Phone: 902-494-6307

Communications Skills staff

Shruti Joshi
Administrative assistant
Phone: 902-494-6307