Thousands of Capital District Health Authority employees are taking a $300,000 program to polish their customer service skills, but not all employees are buying it.

The Communicate with Heart program was developed at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States. Close to 10,000 employees in the Halifax region will end up taking it over the next few years.

In a release, the Capital District Health Authority said the program will combat issues like “a lack of empathy.”

"We know we're all busy. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves why we're here,” said Kathy MacNeil, vice-president of people for the health authority.

But not all employees think the four-hour course is a good way to spend more than $300,000.

One registered nurse sent an open letter to CBC and The Chronicle Herald newspaper voicing her concerns.

"In a time where we're being told we don't have money for things. It's a ridiculous amount of money,” said Colleen Colville.

She said not only is it a waste of money, it's disrespectful to nurses and doctors.

Colville says she has university training in therapeutic conversations and relationship building with patients, combined with almost 14 years of experience on the job.

"Customer service is embedded in my practice every day,” she said. “It's something that I do inherently every day and to then have an email to be mandated to take a customer service course. It feels very insulting to my professional practice.”

MacNeil said the course is just one part of Capital Health's strategic plan to improve care.

"It's certainly not the intention to disrespect anybody's experience or training or background here,” she said.