W.O. McCormick Academic Day

Our largest annual conference

Academic Day is an annual event jointly sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry, the Nova Scotia Health Authority Central Zone Addictions and Mental Health Program and Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine Continuing Professional Development. It features multiple speakers focused on a chosen theme. In 2014, for the first time the day was recognized as the W.O. McCormick Academic Day in honour of the late Dr. William Ormsby McCormick who passed away in 2013. Dr. McCormick was a fixture in the Department of Psychiatry and was the mastermind behind Academic Day.

The inaugural Nova Scotia Hospital Academic Day, as it was originally called, took place in 1989 at the Nova Scotia Hospital and was part of Dr. McCormick’s strategy to have all clinical sites active in the academic mission of the department.

Academic Day was popular from the very beginning, but once established the numbers wishing to attend often exceeded capacity and people had to be turned away. Today, not a year goes by that Academic Day, which is open to faculty and the public, is not sold out.


'Coaching and Behaviour Change'

When: May 7, 2021
Where: Zoom

Agenda [PDF - 374KB]

Register here: https://register.eSourceEvent.com/AcademicDay21


Registration Rates

Attendee Category Rate

Family Members






Mental Health Professionals


Other Professionals




2021 Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Keri-Leigh Cassidy, MD, FRCPC
‘Principles & relevance of health behaviour change’

Dr. Keri-Leigh Cassidy is a Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Academic Director of Dalhousie’s Geriatric Psychiatry Program at the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She is a national leader in positivism in healthcare and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy expert. She is the founder of the Fountain of Health, a national non-profit association supporting behaviour change to promote brain health and resilience (www.fountainofhealth.ca).

Dr. Cassidy is the recipient of several national awards including the 2016 CAGP’s Outstanding Contributions in Geriatric Psychiatry Award, 2018 CIHR Betty Havens Prize for Knowledge Translation in Aging, and 2019 Canadian Psychiatric Association’s for Creative Professional Activity.

Basia Solarz, MAdED
‘Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out’

Basia Solarz brings over 25 years’ experience facilitating conversations in educational, workplace, and community settings.  Currently, she serves as the Consultant, Communications and Conflict Competence, for the award-winning Workplace Conflict Resolution Program at the Nova Scotia Health Authority. In this role, she offers mediation, conflict coaching, and educational services across the province-wide organization.  A Certified Transformative Mediator™ and Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT), Basia is particularly interested in the moral-ethical dimensions of conflict transformation as well as the intersection of adult learning and the transformative approach (Bush & Folger) to working with conflict.

Derek Puddester, MD
'Coaching in Education, Training and Personal Development: Evidence vs Pseudoscience'

Dr. Derek Puddester received his medical degree from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1995. Most recently he was an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and led special projects for innovation/evaluation in the postgraduate medical education office. He is an expert in physician wellness and occupational psychiatry and has spent almost two decades working in physician health across several sectors. He joined the College as a deputy registrar in 2020.

Concurrent Session Speakers

Mark Bosma, MD, FRCPC
‘Coaching for Competence: Helping Medical Professions Trainees Meet and Exceed Expectations'

Dr. Mark Bosma is a Geriatric Psychiatrist, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University. He has been the Program Director of the Dalhousie Psychiatry Residency Program since 2014. He was also involved in the development of the Dalhousie Geriatric Psychiatry Subspecialty Residency Program, which received accreditation from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2015. He is currently the chair of the Royal College Geriatric Psychiatry Specialty Committee and serves on various education-related committees locally and nationally.

David Gardner, PHARMD
‘Coaching Insomnia Management'

Dr. David Gardner is a tenured professor with Dalhousie University’s Department of Psychiatry. He completed training in pharmacy, epidemiology, and community health at U of T, UBC, and Dalhousie University. His research covers pharmacoepidemiology, safe and effective use of psychotropic medications, and program development and implementation in mental health and addictions services in primary care with a focus on pharmacists’ roles and services. He developed Sleepwell, an online resource for supporting access to cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia and the deprescribing of sedative-hypnotics. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has received local and national teaching awards.   

Scott Janssen, MSW, RSW
‘Motivational Interviewing; a brief glimpse’

Scott Janssen is a Master level Clinical Social Worker (MSW, RSW) and a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT). He has been working in the field of problematic substance and process abuse for over thirty years, and has practiced in his home province of Alberta, the Yukon Territory, and since 1998, for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) Addiction and Mental Health Program in Halifax. For the past fifteen years his focus has shifted from providing direct clinical services as a Clinical Therapist, to Clinical Practice Educator providing staff training, and coaching and development with an emphasis on Motivational Interviewing.

Presentations and Objectives

Principles & Relevance of Health Behaviour Change


1. Understand the relevance of health behaviour change to modern healthcare

2. Know key principles of behaviour change to promote health and patient self-management 

3. Access effective health behaviour change tools to use in practice.

Transforming Conflict From the Inside Out


1. Explore their experiences of conflict using the transformative framework to better understand conflict’s destabilizing effects.

2. Consider the benefits of using a moral grounding to guide our behaviour in times of conflict

3. Identify practical strategies to support responding, rather than reacting, to conflict.

Coaching in Education, Training and Personal Development: Evidence vs Pseudoscience


1. Describe and define coaching practice as it may apply to medical education and practice

2. Summarize the state of the art of coaching in medicine from ethical, professional, certification, and regulatory perspectives

3. Consider when coaching is, and is not, an appropriate and useful skill

4. Consider how coaching can benefit personal and professional development

Coaching for Competence: Helping Medical Professions Trainees Meet and Exceed Expectations


1. Understand and recognize the difference between feedback and coaching

2. Learn the core concepts of coaching in medical education

3. Apply and enhance knowledge of coaching through an interactive large group exercise

Coaching Insomnia Management


1. To support patient/client access to and use of self-guided cognitive-behavioural therapy resources for managing chronic insomnia. 

2. To motivate and enable the deprescribing of chronic use of sedative-hypnotics

3. To identify your needs (knowledge, abilities, resources) to successfully coach your patients to improved sleep through self-guided CBTi and reduced dependence on sedative-hypnotics. 

Motivational Interviewing; a brief glimpse


1. Understand and explain the four necessary elements that produce a productive working atmosphere between helper and client, creating the ‘Spirit’ of MI

2. Understand the four processes of MI, and articulate the rationale of how these processes influence attitudinal and behavioral change.

3. Understand how change occurs along a series of stages, and the importance of meeting the client ‘where they are at’ to ensure therapeutic alliance and reduce change resistance.

Accreditation Information

Educationally cosponsored by Dalhousie University Continuing Professional Development

This one-credit-per-hour Group Learning program meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by the Continuing Professional Development Office of Dalhousie University for up to 5.0 Mainpro+ credits.

As an accredited provider, Dalhousie University, CPD, designates this continuing professional development activity for up to 5.0 credit hours as an accredited group learning Section 1 activity as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

“In keeping with CMA Guidelines, program content and selection of speakers are the responsibility of the planning committee. Support is directed toward the costs of the course and not to individual speakers through an unrestricted educational grant.”