Med 1

Hands-on, case-based learning

First year - Med 1

In Med 1, you’ll take part in dynamic group learning that requires your active participation. The objectives of the first-year units emphasize uncovering the issues of a particular case and understanding "why" and "how" they occur. Cases are used as vehicles that enable you to learn in a clinical context and to apply the first steps of a clinical reasoning process, which will be defined and further developed over the subsequent years of your undergraduate medical education.

A typical week in first year includes the following:

  • tutorial groups – meet for 2 to 3 hours, twice a week
  • lectures – attend between 3 to 5 hours
  • patient contact experience – insight into the patient-doctor relationship, 3 to 4 hours
  • elective – a class or experience of your choosing for one half-day
  • laboratory – a 3-hour experience related to the cases under study


  • Foundations of Medicine
  • Host Defense
  • Metabolism and Homeostasis
  • Human Development
  • Professional Competencies
  • Clinical Skills I
  • Electives
  • Rural Week

Foundations of Medicine

Foundations of Medicine provides the basics for further study in biomedical, epidemiological, social, and human sciences, including genomes, proteins and enzymes, cell structures and an introduction to cancers. Students are exposed to anatomy, histology, pathology, and pharmacology using evidence-based practice. Students also shadow a physician, a highlight of the unit, for a full day of clinical practice at a location within Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

Host Defense (Hematology, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

A study of the complex systems pertaining to blood (hematology), infection, immunity and inflammation in the human body, Host Defence explores the cellular level of health in regional and global populations. Through collaboration, multidisciplinary teamwork, and laboratory medicine experience, students understand the international implications of localized deficiencies in the immune system that lead to infections and blood disorders

Metabolism and Homeostasis

Metabolism, the basic chemical processes that maintain life, and homeostasis, the balance of chemical processes in the body, are introduced to students through the integration of basic and clinical sciences. Oral medicine, nutrition, gastrointestinal health, and hormonal health (endocrinology) frame the understanding of two complex concepts and body functionality.

Human Development

An area of study that is crucial across all years of medical training, Human Development explores the growth of the body from labour and birth to sexual maturity through genetics, embryology, the genitourinary system, and molecular biology. The study of sexuality, also a social concept, gives students opportunities to work through human sexual behaviour and its cultural contexts. Students also learn the fundamentals of patient histories, ancestries, and community responsibilities, as well as genital function and male and female physiologies.

Professional Competencies I

A year-long unit, Professional Competencies complements the content of block units by asking students to apply and contextualize medical knowledge within health-care systems and practice, including professional ethics, patient care, and lifelong learning. Students become aware of community health complexities and are encouraged to find best practices for the legal, social, and historical elements of medicine. Students also participate in the Health Mentors Program: group-learning with real-patient volunteers who suffer from chronic conditions.

Rural Week

During the last week of Med 1, you’ll spend one week observing a rural physician in practice. The opportunity allows you to reflect on the unique characteristics of a rural lifestyle and clinical practice. The purpose of this unit is to help you identify the characteristics of clinical practice in a rural setting, as well as health-care delivery and resource access/use in a rural setting. As well, you will be able to observe the determinants of health unique to the community in which you are located and reflect on how health-care delivery addresses or does not address these needs. You’ll also focus on physician wellness and lifestyle in a rural setting and identify the physician’s role in a rural setting, including leadership responsibilities.