Med 1 core units


Med 1 is a combination of systems-based units (teaching clinical knowledge) and professional competencies (physician practice challenges). The following core units run from September - May of each academic year with a devoted week at the end of May to Rural Week.

Foundations of Medicine

The Foundations of Medicine unit prepares you for successful completion of the systems-based units of the curriculum, including foundations in biomedical, epidemiological, social and human sciences. The two major components consist of a review of cell and molecular biology and an introduction to evidence-based practice.

The cell and molecular biology component highlights medically-important concepts in genomes and gene expression, proteins and enzymes, cell structure and dynamics, and concepts in signal transduction. Cancer is introduced in this context as a longitudinal disease theme.

The evidence-based practice component focuses on finding, appraising and using evidence from the medical literature. The unit also includes an introduction to the basic biomedical science disciplines (e.g. anatomy, histology, pathology and pharmacology), a full-day experience of shadowing a physician in his/her practice, and presentations by clinical and biomedical researchers. 

Host Defense (Hematology, Infection, Immunity & Inflammation)

Host Defense includes hematology, immunology, infection and an inflammation component.

During the hematology component, concepts such as the development and function of blood cells, normal hemostasis, diseases of the blood system (including anemias and haemoglobinopathies), bleeding and clotting disorders and hemotological neoplasms are presented.

The immunology component is designed to introduce medical students to the structure function and development of the immune system, immune deviation and immunopathology.

The infection component examines the various components of blood that are involved in fighting pathogens, the types of pathogens that affect the population locally and globally, the basics of infection and infectious disease.

Metabolism (Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Nutrition & Oral Medicine)

Upon completion of this unit, you'll be able to describe the mechanisms underlying biochemical and physiologic processes related to oral medicine, gastrointestinal issues, nutrition and endocrinology.

You'll learn to recognize normal and abnormal anatomic and histological structures of the gastrointestinal and endocrine systems and establish how societal factors influence health and disease relevant to oral medicine, gastrointestinal issues, nutrition and endocrinology.

To complement this learning, a one-week program on oral medicine has been included.

Human Development

Human Development is an integrated review of all aspects of human reproduction, encompassing sexuality, the genitourinary system, embryology, genetics, labour and birth.

Clinical cases are used to illuminate and reinforce the acquisition of basic concepts of anatomy, physiology and pathology and demonstrate their linkage to high level themes of professionalism, patient centredness and community responsibility.

The course provides a solid foundation for further development of these content areas in Med 2, clerkship and residency.

Professional Competencies I

This is the first year of a two-year, longitudinal unit that includes a weekly two-hour tutorial followed by a one-hour large group session. This unit provides you with the opportunity to integrate your biomedical and clinical learning within the context of patient care from a professional, community and life-long learner perspective.

Content includes public health and infectious disease management in the community, end-of-life decision-making and other ethical challenges, patient safety and other system and quality improvement approaches, social accountability and global health, physician wellness and career paths, and the Health Mentors Program.

Key concepts come from population health, epidemiology, ethics, law, informatics, health policy and the humanities. The unit is highly applied and case-based, and closely integrated with the other Med 1 units through shared cases and topics.

Skilled Clinician Program

Through the use of a variety of assessment methodologies and a learning portfolio, this four-year program helps you keep track of your learning and development throughout the MD program.

Research in Medicine (RIM)

The Research in Medicine (RIM) program is an integral component of the undergraduate medical program for all medical students enrolled at Dalhousie Medical School. It’s the first program of its kind in Canada, and it’s intended to develop skills of critical thinking and creativity through a mentored research project conducted longitudinally throughout the four-year curriculum. Learn more about Research in Medicine


Electives provide you with opportunities to explore specific areas of medicine you’re interested in. During elective time, you'll develop and execute a personal project under the guidance of physician preceptors. In Med 1, electives take place in Halifax or Saint John.

Rural Week

At the end of Med 1, you're required to spend one week observing a rural physician in practice. The purpose of this unit is to help you identify the characteristics of clinical practice in a rural setting, as well as health-care delivery and resource access/use in rural areas. You'll observe the determinants of health unique to the communities in which you’re located.

Interprofessional Health Education

Students in the Faculties of Dentistry, Health Professions and Medicine are required to participate in interprofessional health education activities. These activities, together with specific program requirements, are currently evolving and in transition and are integrated into the curricula of individual programs. Participation is mandatory. The objective of interprofessional education include developing:

  • knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, the expertise, roles and values of other health and human service professionals
  • understanding the concept and practice of patient/client/family-centred care.
  • effective communication, teamwork and leadership skills applied in interprofessional contexts.
  • positive attitudes related to the value of collaboration and teamwork in health and human service contexts.
  • an understanding, from a multi-disciplinary perspective, of the Canadian health and social systems, the legal send regulatory foundation of professional practice, how health and human service institutions are organized and operate, and how different health and human service professions contribute to the systems and institutions.

During each year of the four-year undergradaute medical education program, learners will be required to participate in IPE activities.  In years 1 and 2, some activities will be embedded in their curriculum, and others will be elective.  In year 3 there are multiple embedded interprofessional learning activities during several clerkship rotations.  During the final year of the medical program, all students are required to particpate in an interprofessional educational elective, in a collaborative setting.

Volunteer Patient Program

The Volunteer Patient Program (VPP) gives you the opportunity to practise your interviewing and examination skills in a safe, simulated setting. The VPP runs throughout the academic year, and with each new unit in the curriculum, you'll be taught the relevant physical examinations. Learning takes place with community volunteers, under the direction of physician tutors.

By practising with volunteer patients, you'll be better equipped to interact with the patients you see in real-life clinic and hospital environments.

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