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Dalhousie Medical School is an internationally-recognized faculty in undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education. As the only medical school in the Maritime provinces, it is closely affiliated with the provincial healthcare systems in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and is affiliated with more than one hundred teaching sites, including nine teaching hospitals.
The school’s history begins with The Dalhousie College Act, ratified in 1863, which stipulated the establishment of a medical faculty. With the support of the premier and a provincially-funded Halifax hospital, the Faculty of Medicine opened in 1868, half a century after the founding of the university, and the fifth medical school in Canada, preceded by McGill (1842), Queens (1854), Laval (1823) and Toronto (1843).
The initial class of 14 students was taught by a volunteer faculty of Halifax physicians under the leadership of Dr. Alexander P. Reid as dean. Only primary subjects were offered, and students transferred to McGill, Harvard or New York to complete their training; by 1870 a full program was available and in 1872 the first class graduated from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine.
In 1873 financial difficulties forced the school’s closure, and two years later the independent Halifax Medical College was formed, with Dr. Reid as president. After an ambiguous affiliation with the college, in 1889 Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine was re-established, with the Halifax Medical College remaining as the teaching body while the Faculty of Medicine took the role of an examining body.
As a result of an application to the Carnegie Foundation in 1909, the medical school was reorganized, and in 1911 the Halifax Medical School was fully reintegrated into the university, a full-time pre-clinical teaching staff was appointed, and strict entrance requirements were established. In the absence of a dean, Dr. A.W.H. Lindsay served as faculty secretary until 1915.
The medical faculty made significant contributions to First World War efforts with the 1915 mobilization of Stationary Hospital No.7, which provided medical care between French field hospitals and those in Britain and Canada. Stationary Hospital No.7 comprised 162 Dalhousie medical professors, senior students and nurses. On returning from France in 1919, Dalhousie’s Colonel Dr. John Stewart was appointed Dean of Medicine, remaining in the position until 1932.
In the early 1920s grants from the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations enabled the construction of the Dalhousie Public Health Clinic and the Medical Sciences Building, and the expansion of the Pathology Institute. In 1925 the school obtained an A1 accreditation from the American Medical Association.
Dr. Harry Goudge Grant served as dean from 1932-1953, overseeing the faculty through two decades of financial troubles, which were alleviated somewhat by contributions from the provincial governments of Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. During this period the faculty established the first continuing medical education program in Canada.
From 1954-1971 Dr. Chester Stewart served as dean, and it was during his tenure that the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building was conceived and completed, housing the W.K. Kellogg Health Sciences Library, several medical science faculties, and facilities for teaching and research. Subsequent deans included Dr. Lloyd Macpherson (1971-1976), Dr. J.D. Hatcher (1976-1986), T.J. (Jock) Murray (1986-1993), John Ruedy (1993-1999), Dr. Noni MacDonald (1999-2003), Dr. E. Howard Cook (2003-2009) and Dr. Thomas J. Marrie (2009-2015) and David Anderson (2015- ).