Dalhousie University: Dalhousie and Cape Breton University to pilot undergraduate medical education partnership

A new partnership was announced today between Dalhousie Medical School and Cape Breton University (CBU), and aims to create solutions to alleviate family physician shortages in rural Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian communities.

In a bold and innovative strategy to address health-care needs in Nova Scotia, the Medical Education Pilot Initiative will test whether Nova Scotians will respond to a different approach to medical school admissions that includes geographic and program of focus criteria, along with a return of service provision.

The program, beginning in September 2022, will see CBU sponsor five seats at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine MD Program for qualified rural Nova Scotian applicants including Cape Breton, Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous and African Nova Scotian individuals.

A focus on family medical care

“We are thrilled to be entering into this strategic partnership with Cape Breton University and the province of Nova Scotia,” says Dr. David Anderson, dean of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. “Dalhousie is committed to training physicians that address the primary care needs of our province and ensuring that our physician graduates reflect the diverse communities we serve.”

With a shortage of family doctors in the province, creative solutions are necessary to fill in gaps.

“Health-care issues are a large part of our strategic plan, and this pilot is the first step in a number of strategic health initiatives at Cape Breton University,” says David C. Dingwall, Cape Breton University president and vice-chancellor. “Together with the Government of Nova Scotia, we are in discussions with various institutions about innovative ways to work together to provide greater health care access for rural Nova Scotians.”

The five successful students will commit to a return of service criteria including committing a focus on family medicine, and working as a family doctor in rural Nova Scotia for five years after completing their degree. Students will graduate with a Doctor of Medicine from Dalhousie University with efforts to create more capacity for residencies in rural Nova Scotia.

“We need transformational change and out-of-the-box solutions to create the health-care system Nova Scotians need and deserve,” said Premier Tim Houston. “Today’s announcement is the kind of innovative partnership that will see more family doctors practising on Cape Breton Island and in rural communities, where we know they are needed.”

Cape Breton University will collaborate with Dalhousie University to select students from the Dalhousie Medical School waitlist for the 2022-23 academic year to fill these seats.

The five students selected for this program will begin their studies in September 2022.