News release

More Medical School Seats to Train Rural Doctors

The Province is partnering with post-secondary institutions to train more rural family doctors.

Cape Breton University (CBU) has partnered with Dalhousie University in Halifax to create five new medical school seats this September through the provincially funded strategic health initiative at CBU. To be accepted into the pilot program, students must:

  • meet Dalhousie Medical School admission requirements
  • be a Nova Scotian living in a rural area (including anywhere in Cape Breton)
  • be willing to train full-time at Dalhousie
  • commit to a five-year return of service to practise family medicine in a rural Nova Scotia community (including anywhere in Cape Breton) once their training is complete.

“We need transformational change and out-of-the-box solutions to create the healthcare system Nova Scotians need and deserve,” said Premier Tim Houston. “Today’s announcement is the kind of innovative partnership that will see more family doctors practising on Cape Breton Island and in rural communities, where we know they are needed.”

CBU’s strategic health initiative received $5 million from the Province in March to research and explore new ways to recruit, train and retain more healthcare workers in rural areas of the province, including in Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. The medical school seats account for a $1.5-million investment over four years.

CBU will collaborate with Dalhousie to choose students from the Dalhousie Medical School wait-list for the 2022-23 academic year to fill the new seats.


We are focused on transforming Nova Scotia’s healthcare system, and part of that is bringing more doctors to communities across the province. Nova Scotia is a great place to train and work as a doctor – we have great compensation for family doctors, strong financial incentives, and we are renovating and building new facilities to create modern places to work. Partnerships like this one show how important it is to have everyone working together toward our common goals. Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness

It is part of my mandate to meet the unprecedented demand for doctors and address the challenges in healthcare. When we invested in CBU’s strategic health initiative, it was to enhance healthcare training, innovation and access to care for Nova Scotians living in rural communities, and this partnership is a perfect example of that intent in action. I am proud to see our post-secondary institutions heeding the call to help find solutions for our rural communities. Brian Wong, Minister of Advanced Education

Dalhousie University has a strong reputation for training high-quality, compassionate doctors and recognizes the need to be collaborative for the purpose of increasing access to healthcare in these areas of need. We are eager to learn whether Nova Scotians will respond favourably to this new approach to admissions for this pilot program as it may form the basis for a longer-term initiative. Together with the Government of Nova Scotia, we are in discussions with various institutions about innovative ways to work together to provide greater healthcare access for rural Nova Scotians. This is the first step in a number of strategic health initiatives at Cape Breton University. David C. Dingwall, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cape Breton University

We are thrilled to be entering into this strategic partnership with Cape Breton University and the Province of Nova Scotia. Dalhousie is committed to training physicians who address the primary care needs of our province and ensuring that our physician graduates reflect the diverse communities we serve. Dr. David Anderson, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University

Quick Facts:

  • Budget 2022-23 also committed $1.2 million to support additional seats at Dalhousie Medical School to help address the family physician shortage; it is the fourth year of increased funding to cover the cost of adding 16 additional seats in 2019

Additional Resources:

Budget 2022-23: Solutions for Healthcare, Solutions for Nova Scotians:

Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson’s mandate letter:

Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong’s mandate letter: