Dalhousie University. Faculty of Medicine.

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Dalhousie University. Faculty of Medicine.

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The first steps leading to the founding of a medical school in Halifax occurred during discussions leading to the establishment of Dalhousie College in September of 1843. The Dalhousie College Act, which became law on April 29, 1863, contained a future condition that a medical faculty was to be established within the College. Having this legislation in place, the support of then Premier, the Honourable Dr. Charles Tupper, as well as a provincially funded-hospital on the South Common in Halifax, allowed the Faculty of Medicine to come into being in 1868, some 50 years after the founding of Dalhousie University. The faculty has the distinction of being the fifth medical school in Canada, having been preceded by McGill(1842), Queens(1854), Laval(1823), and Toronto. Fourteen students began their first class of instruction in 1868 in the original Dalhousie College located on the Grand Parade. At that time, the teaching staff consisted of the city's physicians who offered their services voluntarily and expenses were met from the modest fees collected from the students. While originally intended to provide only primary subjects with students then transferring for their final years to McGill, Harvard or the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, by 1870 it was agreed that a full program be offered and the first class to graduate from the Faculty of Medicine was in 1872.

The Faculty of Medicine has endured a rather complex history since that time. Even though the teaching staff was offered no renumeration, by 1873 the lack of funding became a serious concern. Accordingly, Dalhousie was forced to discontinue the teaching of medicine.

Through the determined efforts of volunteer medical teachers, an independent institution known as the Halifax Medical College (HMC) formed in 1875 with Dr. Alex P. Reid as its President. HMC had an ill-defined affiliation with the University between 1885-1887, and in 1889, the Faculty of Medicine was re-established at Dalhousie. During this period, the Halifax Medical College remained a separate entity as the teaching body for medical students while the Faculty of Medicine took on the role of examining body.

As the reputation of the faculty grew in the early 1900s, an approach was made to the Carnegie Foundation for funding in 1909. The Foundation's resulting Flexner Report (conducted by Abraham Flexner of New York and Dr. N.P. Colwell of Chicago), which was based on a 24 hour visit to Halifax in 1910, noted "inadequate facilities for training." This led to a reorganization of the medical school and, finally, in 1911, HMC was fully reintegrated back into the University and became the Faculty of Medicine once more. A full-time pre-clinical teaching staff was appointed and strict requirements for entrance to the program were laid down. Though no one was given the title of Dean after the reintegration, Dr. A.W.H. Lindsay served as Secretary to the Faculty until 1915.

During World War I, the faculty made a significant contribution to the war effort with the mobilization of a stationary hospital (Stationary Hospital No.7) in November 1915. In essence, the idea was to provide a stage between the field hospital and those back in Britain and Canada. Stationary Hospital No.7 was comprised of 162 staff members including Dalhousie medical professors, senior students and nurses. They sailed from Saint John, New Brunswick on December 31 on the Metagama to Plymouth and located themselves in the Shorncliffe Hospital in Kent where they provided medical attention mainly to Canadian soldiers. The team was subsequently called upon to serve in France in 1916 and took over a former British stationary hospital in Le Havre. In 1917, Stationary Hospital No.7 was moved to an old chateau near Armentieres and began treating German prisoners of war as well as Canadian soldiers. At President MacKenzie's urging, the staff of Stationary Hospital No.7 were finally returned to Halifax in 1919. Colonel Dr. John Stewart was among those who returned. Dr. Stewart became the Dean of Medicine for the faculty in 1919 and remained in that position until 1932. Dr. W.H. Hattie served as Assistant Dean.

In the early 1920s, the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations provided substantial grants to the Faculty of Medicine. This enabled the construction of the Dalhousie Public Health Clinic and the Medical Sciences Building to proceed at that time. The Pathology Institute was also expanded. In 1924 a visiting outpatient dispensary was set up in the new Public Health Clinic staffed by doctors supplied by the faculty. Shortly afterward, in 1925, the Medical School obtained an A1 accreditation from the American Medical Association.

Dr. Harry Goudge "Pat" Grant was appointed Dean and Professor of Preventive Medicine in 1932. Dr. Grant had come to Dalhousie from Virginia where he had held the post of Commissioner of Health. During the 1930 and 40s, funding issues continued to plague the faculty. So much so, that there was even talk that the Faculty might have to close. As such, attempts to obtain funding were on-going to the Nova Scotia provincial government as well as the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. Given that the Faculty of Medicine provided enrollment to students from all four Atlantic provinces, funding approaches were also made to the provincial governments of Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island during the late 1940s and 50s. At the encouragement of then Premier Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland was the first to contribute funding in 1942. New Brunswick eventually followed suit in 1947. By 1953, all four Atlantic provinces were contributing to defray some of the costs for the Faculty, but Dalhousie itself still provided the majority of the funding.

During 1953, a search for a new Dean to replace Dr. H.G. Grant ensued. A revolt from within the Faculty of Medicine in 1954 also occurred over issues of more autonomy. It was eventually resolved that the Dean and the Faculty Council would take more of a lead in issues of policy, projects, curriculum, appointments, salaries and budgets. In May of 1954, Dr. Chester Stewart was appointed as Dean.

In 1962, the idea for a new medical building for the faculty was proposed. It was to be named after Sir Charles Tupper, who had been instrumental in the formation and development of the Faculty. Sir Charles was also a doctor, Premier of Nova Scotia, the founding President of the Canadian Medical Association, and the father of Confederation. With the assistance of Premier Robichaud, initial funding was obtained for the new medical building in 1966, but costs for the project continued to escalate. A grant from the federal government Health Resources Fund, alumni and the Kellogg Foundation ensured completion. The Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building was officially opened by the Queen Mother on July 14, 1967. The celebration coincided with the celebration of Canada's centennial. The building houses the W.K. Kellogg Health Sciences Library, several medical science departments, as well as facilities for teaching and research.

Dr. Stewart resigned his post as Dean on July 1, 1971. Dr. Lloyd Macpherson served as Acting Dean until a suitable replacement could be found. After an extensive search, Dr. Macpherson was appointed Dean in July of 1972. Since that time, the Faculty of Medicine has continued to serve as the centre for medical research and education in the Maritimes. In 1976, Dr. J.D. Hatcher became the Dean and served until 1986. Dr. T.J. (Jock) Murray was appointed in 1986. Dr. John Ruedy then became Dean in 1993 with his term followed by that of Dr. Noni MacDonald.

As of 2000, the Faculty encompasses twenty departments (5 basic science and 15 clinical), each having its own Department Head. Approximately 1400 teaching faculty provide undergraduate medical education to 360 (MD) students, 350 post-graduates (Residents) and 180 graduate (Master's and Ph.D) students. A combined MD/Ph.D program is also offered. Some $35 million in research dollars are brought into the Faculty on an annual basis.

The major teaching hospitals for the Faculty include the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (including the Victoria General, Camp Hill Hospital, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre and the Halifax Infirmary), the IWK Health Centre, the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth, Saint John Regional Hospital, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, P.E.I. In addition, rotating internships have occurred at a number of hospitals around the Maritime provinces. Alongside the current hospitals, teaching was also offered at the Dalhousie Public Health Clinic (now the Clinical Research Centre) and the Halifax Tuberculosis Hospital.

The post-graduate medical education division continues to provide an opportunity for doctors in the Maritimes to keep up-to-date with rapid changes in the field of medicine by providing a program of refresher courses. In addition, a number of students have taken advantage of the Faculty's student research program offered during the summer months as a means to investigate specific projects under the mentorship of a faculty investigator.


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