Nova Scotia

Dal's medical school earns 8-year accreditation term

Dalhousie University's medical school received an eight-year accreditation term earlier this week, completing a turnaround from eight years ago when the program was placed on probation.

Dean says new programs, curriculum overhaul helped rebound from 2009 probation

Faculty, staff and students at Dalhousie University's medical school are celebrating word the program has been granted an eight-year accreditation term. (CBC) (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Eight years removed from what was a major low point for Dalhousie University's medical school, Dr. David Anderson believes the school has found the prescription for prolonged success at the Halifax institution.

Anderson, the dean of the medical school, along with the rest of the staff, faculty and students were celebrating news earlier this week that Dal has received accreditation for an eight-year term following a review by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

Bouncing back from disappointment

The school was well-prepared for the review last February and March, said Anderson.

"There's been a tremendous amount of work done on our medical education program over the last eight years."

The work started in earnest in 2009 after a review resulted in the program being placed on a two-year probation.

Since then, the school overhauled its curriculum, opened a campus in Saint John and added new aspects to the program such as student research options and an office dedicated to supporting students with stress, preparation for the next phase of their careers and other services.

'The bar is always rising'

Anderson said 2009 was a wake-up call that "the bar is always rising" for medical education, and that what is innovative at one point can quickly become standard. The plan now is to be constantly evaluating the program, said Anderson, so in eight years the school will be fully prepared for the next accreditation process.

"You don't want to do that again and so we made sure that we were ready to go when things came around this time," he said of the 2009 experience compared with now.

"In this accreditation process you can't sort of start working on it six months ahead of the accreditation date and expect to be ready; it really is years of work and anticipation of the process that is required."

Still some work to do

Dal received top marks in 85 of 94 elements reviewed.

Of the other nine, eight were marked as being up to standard but requiring more data to show the progress is sustainable. One element — student awareness of mistreatment policies and reporting mechanisms — was found to need more work.

Anderson said he's confident the program is making the progress it needs to tick the remaining boxes in a year's time when an update on the efforts is due.


Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at