Policies & Procedures

Creating a professional environment

Dalhousie Medical School is committed to creating an environment that is optimal for learning, teaching, conducting research and providing clinical care. To achieve and sustain this, Dalhousie Medical School expects students, residents, faculty, administration and staff to display professionalism, individually and collectively, in all their interactions with each other, with patients and families/significant others, with colleagues in other professions and with members of the public when acting under the auspices of Dalhousie University.

Physicians and scientists have privileged positions in society. Professionalism is central to the ethos of both the practice of medicine and conduct of research, and an expression of our commitment to patients and society.

Respect for others

Professionals demonstrate consideration and respect for others including patients, their families and support persons, colleagues, classmates, teachers, other professionals and the public.

  • we don't allow our conduct to negatively impact on others' learning or clinical activities
  • we don't discriminate against others on the basis of such grounds as age, race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnicity, political beliefs, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity
  • we demonstrate respect for the dignity and rights of patients and their families or support persons, taking into account their diversities, both in their presence and in discussion with other members of the health care team
  • we accept and promote patient autonomy in decision-making, and when the patient lacks capacity, we consult with and appropriately take direction from surrogate decision-makers
  • we respect the personal boundaries of others and refrain from making unwanted or inappropriate romantic or sexual overtures towards others
  • we communicate respectfully with others both verbally and in writing
  • we respect the privacy and confidentiality of those to whom we owe that duty

Honesty and integrity

Professionals demonstrate adherence to the highest standards of personal, professional and academic honesty and integrity.

  • we communicate truthfully with others verbally and in writing
  • we don't falsify documents or records
  • we acknowledge and manage conflicts of interest appropriately, avoiding conflicts of interest, real or apparent, whenever there is potential detriment to others
  • we admit and disclose errors
  • we make accurate records of conversations, histories, physical findings and other information pertinent to patient care
  • we don't engage in plagiarism, nor do we give or receive assistance during an examination or in completion of an assignment unless such is expressly permitted
  • we conduct research in an ethical manner, analyzing and reporting results accurately and fairly
  • we credit the ideas and work of others appropriately and fairly

Compassion and empathy

Professionals demonstrate compassion and empathy for those in distress and especially for patients, their families and support persons.

  • we demonstrate effective listening
  • we are aware of and respectful of others' differences and respond appropriately to their needs
  • we show compassion and provide support for patients, their families and support persons dealing with illness and/or dying and death

Duty and responsibility

Professionals acknowledge their duties to patients, their profession and society and accept the responsibilities that flow from these duties.

  • we attend to patients' best interests and well-being as the first priority
  • we work cooperatively with others for the benefit of our patients and contribute to a healthy working environment for all
  • we make equitable and prudent use of health care resources under our control
  • we are responsible to society for matters relating to public health
  • we recognize and adhere appropriately to policies, codes, guidelines and laws that govern us and our work
  • we participate in the process of self-regulation of the profession
  • we address misconduct, incompetence or behaviours that put patients or others at risk
  • we share resources and expertise, and assume responsibility for our portion of a fairly distributed workload; where issues of fair distribution arise, we act most immediately in the patient's best interests, and seek to resolve issues of fairness through appropriate channels
  • we respond in an appropriate, non-judgmental and non-demeaning manner when our expertise is sought
  • we don't take advantage of colleagues, learners, patients, their families or support persons or others for emotional, financial, sexual or other personal purposes, and we conduct research and educational activities with these groups only with appropriate informed consent
  • we fulfill commitments, meet deadlines and are punctual particularly where these behaviours have significant impact on others; where we're unable to do so, we communicate appropriately to mitigate any negative impacts
  • we engage in lifelong learning, maintain clinical competence and strive for continuous quality improvement
  • we take appropriate and necessary responsibility for our personal health and well-being
  • we recognize our own limitations and seek assistance appropriately
  • we display dress, behaviour and demeanor in the educational and healthcare
    setting in keeping with appropriate pedagogical, clinical or safety standards


For reference, these documents and resources include but are not limited to the following:

This policy is intended to complement Canadian law, policies, guidelines and codes of conduct established for the profession of medicine, and other policies, regulations and ethical standards that govern students, residents, faculty and staff of Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Medical School and undergraduate and postgraduate medical education programs.

More information: