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Observerships for Medical Students

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Medical students who wish to participate in an educational experience outside of their undergraduate medical education program must obtain a medical student observership permit.

A medical student observer will be given opportunities to observe and participate in clinical interactions in order to acquire the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and judgement required for future practice.

Limitations to the activities permitted, as laid out in this policy, must be clearly understood and adhered to by both the observing physician and the most responsible physician(s). (MRPs)/supervisor(s) approved by the College.

Medical students doing electives at Dalhousie do not require observership permits from the College.


In order for a medical student observership permit to be issued, the student must:

  1. be enrolled in a medical school that meets criteria approved by Council as set out in the policy University or School Approved by Council;
  2. have the approval of the undergraduate medical education office of their medical school;
  3. submit a medical student observership application form to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia with supporting documentation;
  4. arrange to have one or more Supervision Agreement form(s) completed by an independently licensed physician with a Full or Academic Licence, who has agreed to act as the MRP/supervisor, according to the expectations and limitations laid out in this policy; and
  5. provide a character reference from an individual who is not a relative and who has known the candidate for at least five years, that is acceptable to the Registrar.

The medical student observership permit will remain valid at the discretion of the Registrar but will usually be time-limited and location specific.

Medical student observers must function under the direct oversight of a College-approved Supervisor at all times. Supervision may not be otherwise delegated.

Medical student observers may (with the patient’s consent):

  • Observe any aspect of a patient’s care;
  • View medical records; and
  • Conduct clinical assessments (history and/or physical examination) in whole or in part, under the direct and immediate oversight of a College-approved Supervisor.

Medical student observers are not allowed to do the following:

  • Make entries in the patient’s medical record;
  • Give medical advice to a patient or make a medical diagnosis;
  • Prescribe treatment;
  • Take a telephone call regarding clinical matters on behalf of their supervisor or other physicians;
  • Perform or assist in medical procedures (exclusive of the clinical assessment, above);
  • Conduct handover; or
  • Discharge a patient from care.


Applicable Legislation

Medical Practitioners Regulations – Section 32 to 35

Approved By

Registration Committee, Executive Committee, Council

Approval Date

June 15, 2018

June 19, 2018

Review Date

April 2020