How Working at the System Level Improves Quality Care and Patient Safety

by Sarah Boucaud, Outreach Assistant, Global Health Office

Sarah Boucaud is our outreach assistant and is spending the summer at Accreditation Canada as part of her residency for the Masters of Health Administration program at Dalhousie.

I believe this organization and the role of accreditation are extremely important in ensuring quality care and patient safety in always changing and complex health care systems.

Working at the Global Health Office (GHO) this past academic year, I’ve heard about and been in awe of the many unique opportunities Dalhousie, and the GHO in particular, offers its health professional students. These experiences allow us to gain valuable hands-on experience in a variety of settings, both at home and abroad. I am no exception this summer, since I am doing a residency at Accreditation Canada as part of my Masters of Health Administration. While I am not working within a limited resource setting or in a new environment far from home, I find it absolutely remarkable what Accreditation Canada does in terms of promoting patient safety and quality care both nationally and internationally. Not to mention that my first three weeks here have certainly been an adventure in their own right! I would like to share a bit more about this organization with the global health community and future health care professionals like yourselves, because I believe this organization and the role of accreditation are extremely important in ensuring quality care and patient safety in always changing and complex health care systems.

Accreditation Canada Offices, Ottawa, Ontario

Accreditation Canada Offices, Ottawa, Ontario

Independent and not-for-profit, Accreditation Canada ( has been promoting health quality through accreditation since 1958. How is this done? Accreditation Canada supports health care organizations in a continuous quality improvement process. Organizations are evaluated on a four-year cycle using standards developed based on research, best practices, and consultation. Peer reviewers, called surveyors, conduct these on-site evaluations. The results are evaluated by Accreditation Canada, who renders a decision as to whether or not the organization becomes accredited, and which level of accreditation it receives. What’s more important is that the results identify strengths and areas for improvement. These are provided to the organization to inform action plans and quality improvement initiatives. Accreditation Canada International (ACI) provides similar services abroad (

This type of process puts Accreditation Canada in a unique position to work on the standardization of care throughout the health care system. Accreditation Canada promotes the attainment of high quality standards in all health care organizations with which it works. This organization also takes continual improvement and knowledge translation to heart, keeping up with emerging evidence, and educating its clients and training its surveyors.

Accreditation Canada works with all types of health care organizations: hospitals, clinics, community health centres, emergency health services, and long-term care homes, to name a few. Over 5,700 sites and services have been accredited by Accreditation Canada. Accreditation can be seen as a systematic approach that looks at improving quality of care and patient safety within complex and continually changing health care systems.

We look forward to having Sarah back in September to share more of her experiences with us.

Dalhousie Welcomes Malaysian Partners

Since 1996, Dalhousie University has partnered with the International Medical University (IMU) in Malaysia. Each year, six IMU students are eligible to complete third- and fourth-year clerkships at Dalhousie leading to a Canadian Medical Doctorate degree. This unique partnership builds the educational capacity of IMU and improves the health care in Malaysia and surrounding regions as well as expanding the experience of learners and faculty here in Halifax.

IMU is Malaysia’s leading private medical and healthcare university and is committed to high quality education opportunities for their students.  As a result, they pioneered and maintain a global network of more than 30 partner institutions of higher learning.  Dalhousie University is the only Canadian partner, with a program managed by the Global Health Office and supported by many local individuals.


Front Row (L-R): Dr. Karen Mann, Dr. Marie Matte, Dr. Mei Ling Young, Dr. Sow Chew Fei, Shawna O’Hearn, Prof. Vishna Devi Nadarajah & Mark Heng Back Row: Dr. John LeBlanc, Said Msabaha & Prof. Peter Pook


On April 23 & 24, 2014 we hosted key faculty from IMU who were in Halifax to review the terms of our partnership and to ensure educational standards and outcomes are met.  As always it was a great pleasure to reconnect with this team of dedicated individuals and to continue improving this program to ensure a sustainable future for all.  This partnership is important to both institutions and their students as it encourages cross cultural experience and learning.


Dalhousie/IMU Partnership Program Students (Class of 2014) L-R: Reveik Poobalan, Evan Wee, Yoong Wah Lee & Said Msabaha (Global Health Office) (Absent: Randy Aung)


We are also thrilled to introduce the Dalhousie/IMU graduates, Class of 2014, who were invited to share their experiences at Dalhousie with the visiting IMU Faculty.  Congratulations Reveik, Evan, Yoong and Randy.

For more information on this program please visit our IMU Students page.

Awarding Student Leadership in Global Health at Dalhousie

The 4th and final post in our series celebrating the many global health achievements at Dalhousie this year.


We are thrilled and honoured to be able to present the Dr. Ron Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health at Dalhousie.  This annual award recognizes student achievements through:

  • demonstrated leadership in global health
  • work experience with marginalized communities
  • engagement in global health research

We received so many inspiring student nominations this year and it was with great pleasure that we presented a very deserving student in the School of Nursing.

Amanda Carey

Recipient of the 2014 Dr. Ron Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health


Shawna O’Hearn (Global Health Office), Amanda Carey (Nursing), Dr. Megan Aston (Nursing)


The Dr. Ronald Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health is given to a student in the Faculty of Medicine, Health Professions or Dentistry who has demonstrated leadership in global health and a commitment to improving the health of marginalized communities during their time at Dalhousie.

This award honours Dr. Stewart’s personal, professional and educational support and dedication to global health, and the advancement of social capital worldwide. Dr. Stewart, a former provincial Minister of Health and Order of Canada recipient, has been enriching students’ experiences at Dalhousie Medical School for many years as a popular and accomplished educator, past director of the Medical Humanities program and a key champion for global health education.

This year we recognize, Amanda Carey, a nursing student who has made global health a part of her personal and professional life during her time at Dalhousie.  Amanda exemplifies so many qualities that this award recognizes.  She is an engaged and enthusiastic leader, she is a thoughtful and determined student, and she is a kind and respectful individual. We are certain that as Amanda advances in her career she will continue to carry and grow these skills to the benefit of all who have the pleasure to work with her.


Amanda graciously addressing the crowd on April 1, 2014


Amanda is also a graduate of the Advocates in Global Health Certificate Program which demonstrates her cumulative knowledge and experience in global health over the last four years.  She is described as having a

genuine interest in and commitment to global health issues that is evident in all the work she does at both local and international levels

Amanda has been involved with the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre at Dalhousie, she was a participant in the Global Health Office Summer Program in The Gambia and Tanzania and was the local Halifax co-coordinator for the North American Mobility Project nursing exchange program.

Amanda has been involved in global health research projects at Dalhousie and has given her time to local programs focused on population health in marginalized communities.  Her work on the Dalhousie School of Nursing Global Health Committee has earned her the title “inclusive leader” as someone who works hard, individually and collaboratively, asking tough questions and working toward effective solutions.

Congratulations Amanda!


Amanda receiving the Dr. Ron Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health from Dr. Ron Stewart himself


We have so many students making global health a part of their education, professional practice and personal focus that it is always a difficult choice for our panel of judges to select a winner.  We are so proud of the students and their commitment to their community, making positive changes and motivating others. Students are identifying problems and finding collaborative and sustainable solutions; they have bright and exciting global health futures ahead of them.

These awards are granted annually and we encourage you to nominate students, faculty and residents in 2015. Dalhousie in doing great work in global health and we are eager to continue to recognize these achievements!  Look for our next Call for Nominations in January 2015.

To read more about these awards and past recipients please visit our Global Health Awards page.

Global Health Through My Eyes: 2014 Photo Contest

Post 2 in our series celebrating global health leadership at Dalhousie

As part of our celebrations on April 1, 2014 we also celebrated and recognized the photographic achievements of our students. Photographs evoke feelings, positive or negative, and shape our perceptions of people, places or events. Our students, faculty, residents, and staff often take photos during their global health experiences. Each photo, although representing just one moment in time, also speaks to a compelling story, a narrative of lessons learned, hope, inspiration and a continued struggle for equity at home and abroad.

The Global Health Office (with support from Dr. Lee Kirby and the Department of Bioethics as well as the many student reps from the Medical Humanities program) has been running a global health photo contest for a few years with the focus on promoting ethical imagery and creating awareness for how a single photo can impact both the subject and the viewer. Our photo contest is open to everyone; students, faculty, residents and staff and we are proud to showcase all the entries we receive. You will see these images, and may already recognize a few, in our promotional pieces such as posters, our website or even our social media such as this blog or our facebook page. As part of the global health photo contest, each submission is evaluated on the clarity of that relationship between the image and its intended global health message.   It is clear that the Dalhousie community puts a lot of thought into the image composition and its message and we want to  thank all our entrants who have given us both beautiful images and thoughtful stories!

We are also pleased to announce our 1st and 2nd prize winners for 2014!

2nd place goes to Kerry McInnes for the image entitled “My heart lies in Ireland”.

My Heart Lies in Ireland by Kerry McInnes

My Heart Lies in Ireland by Kerry McInnes

Here’s an excerpt from Kerry’s submission: ” I think this photo is appropriate for a global health theme because it challenges the societal image and connotations we have surrounding the elderly. Rather than eliciting sympathy and pity, this photo invites you to share in this beautiful woman’s joy as she explores a country she has dreamed of visiting her entire life. Rather than portraying old-age, illness, and disability, this photo captures her youth, her health, and her ability.”

1st place goes to Suzanne Clarke for her image “Now that I have seen”.

Now That I Have Seen by Suzanne Clarke

Now That I Have Seen by Suzanne Clarke

Here’s an excerpt from Suzanne’s submission: “If however, a health problem or general societal inequality is known and allowed to continue unaddressed  ~ We do indeed become responsible. Improvements in global health can be made and I believe, are very achievable. First however, we must acknowledge them and accept responsibility for that knowledge.”

To see all 2014 submissions please visit the Global Health Office Facebook page.

Recognizing student achievement in global health: the advocates certificate program

The Global Health Office held a very special awards ceremony on April 1st, 2014, to recognize a group of extremely dedicated and hard working individuals, our Global Health Advocates!

Class of 2014 Advocates in Global Health L-R Dr. Dan Boudreau, Brie Rehbein, Amanda Carey, Alex Hosein, Erika Lemon, Spencer Holowachuck

Class of 2014 Advocates in Global Health L-R Dr. Dan Boudreau, Brie Rehbein, Amanda Carey, Alex Hosein, Erika Lemon, Spencer Holowachuck

In 2012, the Global Health Office, with the support of our faculty mentors Dr. Dan Boudreau and Erika Burger, developed the Advocates in Global Health Certificate. Dalhousie students were already doing amazing work in global health, but something was missing. There was a need to tie together this hard work into something recognizable, and from this need, the Advocates in Global Health Certificate was born.  This certificate was designed to recognize students’ achievements in global health within the Faculties of Medicine, Health Professions, and Dentistry; in order to promote the development of a global health curriculum, and to provide students with a holistic understanding of the issues related to global health. Students meet these achievements through faculty mentorship, education, skills development and public engagement. And by doing so, they become part of a network of students and professionals at Dalhousie committed to working within global health settings.

Students are given two years to complete the required modules which were developed based on the global health competencies presented through socio-economic, cultural, political, and ethical lenses.

This certificate has three overarching objectives:

1. To provide students with an educational framework to develop a robust understanding of global health. Students become familiar with the major forces affecting the health of populations transnationally, and understand the complexity of global health issues in diverse contexts.

2. To foster skill development in advocacy

3. To increase inter-professional learning opportunities in global health at Dalhousie University

Our 2014 graduates, met these requirements through a variety of initiatives: International electives in Tanzania, Ghana and the Gambia; language training (Swahili, Wolof and French); skills building sessions in housing, advocacy, gender, global health systems and African Nova Scotian health; and volunteering at the methadone clinic, participation on student global health committees, and the STI (sexually transmitted infections) Research Network.

We are proud to honour our third round of Advocates in Global Health. Five students graduated this year and each was presented, not only with a certificate, but with a global health related book to symbolize continued learning. The Advocates in Global Health Certificate is certainly not an end to the global health path of these students, but another well earned accomplishment along the way.

Congratulations to Amanda Carey (Nursing), Spencer Holowachuck (Medicine), Alex Hosein (Pharmacy), Erika Lemon (Social Work), Luke Wiseman (Pharmacy)

To find out more about this exciting program please visit our Advocates in Global Health page.

To read more about the global health competencies please visit the Canadian Federation of Medical Students website and their section on global health.

Due to the many great stories from our event on April 1st we plan to create a blog series for you.  More to come shortly!

Dalhousie’s Global Health Voice: Annual Symposium

2014 promises to be an exciting year for global health. The Millennium Development Goal’s (MDGs) target date is only a year away and  strong leadership, accountability, and collaboration are needed to continue to build on the momentum they have started. Dalhousie’s Global Health Office is also in the midst of reflecting on the year’s past accomplishments and successes, while looking forward to new adventures in global health.

This is why we are more than pleased to invite you to our annual symposium on April 1st, 2014. This year’s theme, Dalhousie’s Global Health Voice, recognizes some of the unique opportunities the year  2014 will provide us. We are offering 3 main events to encourage global health expansion, as well as collaboration in this field, and a chance to celebrate and honour Dalhousie’s leadership in global health.

First, our workshop (2:30-4:30pm, Tupper Room 14B2) will explore Dalhousie’s global health voice in a post-2015 agenda. Please join this discussion with key faculty so that we can identify common themes moving forward, areas for additional collaborations, and opportunities for funding in global health.

Following the workshop, a reception and poster presentation (4:30-5:30pm, Tupper Link) will be held to satisfy your afternoon coffee craving and highlight some of the exciting programs at the Global Health Office.

Last, but not least, we will celebrate the recent achievements of Dalhousie’s students and faculty in global health with an award and graduation ceremony (5:30-7:30pm, Tupper Theater A). This will include:

  • Global Health Advocate’s Graduation: We will honour this year’s graduating class of Global Health Advocate’s. These students have worked extremely hard to accomplish knowledge, professional development, and public engagement criteria in order to be graduating the program.
  • Certificate in Health Systems Graduation: In addition, we are also pleased to recognize our first graduating class form the new Certificate in Health Systems!
  • Global Health Awards: The opportunity will also be taken to announce our global health award winners!  The Dr. Ronald Stewart Student Award recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership in global health and commitment to the health of marginalized communities during their time at Dalhousie. The Dr. John Savage Memorial Faculty Award recognizes an outstanding humanitarian contribution to global health by a Dalhousie Medical School Faculty member.
  • Photo Contest Winner: You will also have the chance to find out who will take home 1st and 2nd prize from our photo contest; where candidates’ submissions reflected the theme Global Health through my eyes.

Please be sure to join us with an eagerness to learn, willingness to participate, and of course, the spirit to celebrate! We look forward to seeing you there!  Join the discussion on twitter with #DalGHImpact.

Moving forward: The African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Advisory Committee

The Dalhousie community has been hard at work! While our last few posts in this series have focused on our new program coordinator, Michelle Patrick, and her role in addressing the underrepresentation of African Nova Scotians within the health professions, her role is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Behind her is the support and groundwork of a hard working group of individuals here at Dalhousie, the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Advisory Committee.

The committee was established in 2011. Under the faculty of medicine, its members looked to address the underrepresentation of African Nova Scotians in the profession of medicine and on a larger scale, improve health outcomes within the African Nova Scotian community. Over the years, their mandate has expanded to include all health faculties, in order to improve health outcomes for all Nova Scotians.

The committee, through an advisory role to the Dean of medicine, was intended to assist the Faculty of Medicine in fulfilling its social accountability mandate to the African Nova Scotian community. This involved promoting and supporting equity in admissions, student resident support, faculty recruitment and retention, curriculum development and research relevant to the community. However, they have accomplished so much more.

In addition to these formal expectations, the committee has managed to organize visits from speakers, Dr. Chad Williams, Dr. David Haase, and Dr. Will Ross in their “Doctors from African Nova Scotian Communities: Making it Happen” event.  They have also managed to award bursaries to first year medical students, get into the “Medical School community event”, and have seen an increase in the representation of students of African descent in Dalhousie’s medical school.

The committee realized it needed a full-time coordinator to dedicate much needed time to the coordination and consultation around the development, implementation and monitoring of programs to enhance African Nova Scotian engagement. And this is where Michelle Patrick comes in. She is an extension of the wonderful work the committee is doing. Through encouraging engagement of local community based organizations with the committee, her role will enable strategic development in order to attract African Nova Scotian students. She will also assist the committee’s activities through the development and implementation of a pipeline program (including elementary, junior, and senior high schools) for careers in health, dentistry and medicine, and through culturally specific training for staff and faculty in health professions, dentistry and medicine, among many other activities.

Stay tuned for the official program launch, however the African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Advisory Committee and their new addition to the team, Michelle Patrick are, as always, hard at work. And we can be sure to expect more stimulating lectures and events, such as the most recent “Is Racism a Determinant of Health?”, with Dr. Williams, and the upcoming summer program for African Nova Scotian youth.

Is Racism a Determinant of Health?

Part 2 in our series on our new program

In December 1995, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and by 2008, thanks to, now retired Nova Scotia Senator Donald Oliver, Q.C. the Senate officially declared February as Black History Month. We now refer to it as African Heritage Month across the country.

On February 10 and 11, in honour of African Heritage Month, the Global Health Office at Dalhousie University with the Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC), Cancer Care Nova Scotia, Capital Health and Dalhousie University’s African Nova Scotian Advisory Committee, welcomed Dr. David R. Williams, an expert on racism and health from Harvard University to Halifax.


Dr Williams Speaking to DHW

Dr. Williams speaking to the Department of Health and Wellness
Photo Courtesy or Meg McCallum, Cancer Care Nova Scotia


Dr. Williams is internationally recognized for his research on understanding how race, racial discrimination, socioeconomic status and religion affect physical and mental health. He is the Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of Sociology and African and African-American Studies and professor of Sociology at Harvard University.

It is significant that the global health office and Dalhousie were part of this initiative as it is important for all students, staff a faculty to gain a better understanding of the determinants of health and in particular how they relate to marginalized members of our community.  This event also highlighted the need to ensure that Dalhousie students are prepared to work in a diverse world by providing opportunities to enhance cultural competence and humility.


Dr. Williams speaking with the Dalhousie community

Dr. Williams speaking with the Dalhousie community
Photo courtesy of the global health office


During his Dr. Williams met with the African Nova Scotian Advisory Committee and presented current research on how race, racial discrimination, and socioeconomics affect physical and mental health.  This information was shared with front-line healthcare professionals, the academic community and policy makers.  The focus of these discussions examined the gaps and opportunities for research as well as the roles of provincial and district health authorities to decrease health inequities and increasing quality of care.  Dr. Williams also presented to the community offering the hard facts about racism and health that resonated with the audience as they nodded in agreement and began to understand their role in advocating for their own health and that of the community.


Dr Williams Speaks to Community Members Feb 10

Dr. Williams speaking to community members
Photo courtesy of Meg McCallum, Cancer Care Nova Scotia


The partners were supported with funding from Diversity and Social Inclusion, Primary Health Care, Department of Health and Wellness.

Dr. Williams’ presentations are available at


Local Global Health: Addressing inequities for African Nova Scotians

Part 1 in a Series on our new program


Disparities in health and education are closer to home than you might think. African Nova Scotians are underrepresented within the health professions and within the health professional schools at Dalhousie. This is largely due to the inequities African Nova Scotians face in accessing these education opportunities and in navigating the complex university system.

Ideally, the diversity among health care professionals would reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. This is important in mitigating existing health disparities, as health care professionals from minority or marginalized groups tend to go back into the community and provide much needed care to these populations.



Dalhousie Dentistry student

The African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Initiative is a new program that attempts to address these disparities by promoting equitable access to health professional education here at Dalhousie. The program will accomplish this through one-on-one support and by serving as a link to other resources. However, Michelle Patrick, the new program coordinator of the initiative, described how the program cannot work alone to increase African Nova Scotian representation in the health professions,

Choosing a career as a health professional starts well before university, it starts in the community, in high school and even elementary school.

A simple example of this is how pre-requisite courses are often needed to apply to health professional schools. If a student is unaware of this early on in their high school career, he or she may feel that is too late to pursue a career in the health professions during his or her graduating year. Forming partnerships to help create an educational pipeline that can promote aspiring health professionals early on is key to increasing the application pool of African Nova Scotians to health professional schools at Dalhousie.


Image courtesy of Dalhousie University

Image courtesy of Dalhousie University


The African Nova Scotian Health Sciences Initiative falls under the umbrella of the Global Health Office. Why? When most people hear Global Health, they think of International Health, which has historically only considered countries and populations outside national borders. Global Health provides a more inclusive and holistic view; it’s about looking at all people around the entire world and the health disparities that exist not only between countries, but between individuals within them. Global health issues can be found right at home, which is why this new program’s home is with Dalhousie’s Global Health Office.

Michelle Patrick is busy in her new role, but is always looking for opportunities to connect and provide support for African Nova Scotian students. She is available for one-on-one chats. You can reach her by email at or stop by the Global Health Office and be sure to say hi.

Healthy Water, Healthy People in the Gambia

Samantha Romkey teaching in the Gambia 2013

Samantha Romkey teaching in the Gambia 2013

Every summer Dalhousie medical, nursing and pharmacy students participate in the Global Health Office Summer Programs.  These programs are offered through our partners in Tanzania and the Gambia and allow Dalhousie students to practice health care delivery in diverse settings.  In July 2013 Dalhousie student, Samantha Romkey participated in the Global Health Office Summer Program in the Gambia.  This program allows Dalhousie Nursing and Medical students the opportunities to immerse themsleves in a peer to peer learning model with the Nova Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA).  Samantha was one of 4 Dalhousie students who lead education sessions as part of the Healthy Water, Healthy People program to children aged 14-21.  We invite you to read Samantha’s blog about her experiences.

For more information about these and other programs please visit the Global Health Office Summer Program in the Gambia or the Nova Scotia Gambia Association Healthy Water, Healthy People project.