Emergency: 911
Telecare: 811
Poison: 1-800-565-8161
5850/5980 University Ave., Halifax, NS B3K 6R8

In response to COVID-19 patient and visitor restrictions are in place. Entrances have been reduced and screening is in effect. Please visit our COVID-19 information page for up to date guidance and information.


Your Health Care Team

We’d like to introduce some of the members of your, or your child’s/youth’s, health care team whom you may meet during your stay with us. All staff at the IWK Health Centre wear identification tags to help you identify them.

The attending physician, a member of the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, is the doctor in charge of your, or your child’s/youth’s care.

Residents are fully-qualified medical doctors who have received their medical degree and are pursuing advanced postgraduate training. They are physicians, not medical students. They may care for you without supervision in areas where they are qualified.

Medical Fellows are qualified consultant medical doctors who are pursuing additional medical education in a sub-speciality field.

Nursing staff are assigned to you or your child/youth 24 hours a day. They provide the most immediate care to you and/or your child/youth. Nurses coordinate much of the activity of the health care team, as well as provide individual support for you and your family. Nursing staff are available to help answer any questions you have regarding your, or your child’s/youth’s, care.

The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is a registered nurse with advanced education in nursing and is an excellent source of information and support for parents and helps families through their experiences at the Health Centre. Clinical Nurse Specialists are available for consultation in many of the specialty care teams.

The Nurse Practitioner (NP) has advanced nursing and medical education in the care of women and critically ill newborns.  They help provide specialized care to these groups.

Medical students/clerks are in their final two years of medical school. They do not make independent decisions about treatment, but are in the Health Centre as part of their medical education.

The Ward clerk is the person who usually greets visitors or answers the telephone during the day on the nursing unit. S/he will see that your questions or requests are given the appropriate attention. The ward clerk has the responsibility for making sure the unit runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

Ward Aides maintain the supplies and equipment that patients use while staying in the Health Centre.

Housekeeping staff ensure the units and areas are kept clean.

You may meet other important members of your/your child’s/youth’s health care team listed below. If you have any questions about their services or roles, please ask them or another member of your health care team.

  • Bilingual Interpreters
  • Child Life Specialists and Child Life Workers
  • Cultural Health Interpreters
  • Clinical Dietitians-Nutritionists
  • Educators / Professional Development Coordinators
  • Mental Health Workers
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Out-of-Province Liaison Nurses
  • Spiritual Care Workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Researchers
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Speech Therapists
  • Teachers
  • Technologists (X-ray, Lab, Hearing and Speech etc.)
  • Volunteers


Other helpful definitions:

Accreditation: Accreditation is a requirement for all Canadian health organizations, and involves a visit by a team of surveyors from across Canada with specific interdisciplinary care teams. These interdisciplinary care teams complete an indepth evaluation of the care and service they provide and identify opportunities for additional improvement -- information that is shared with the survey team. Certificates of Accreditation are awarded by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation (CCHFA) to deserving health facilities.  The IWK Health Centre is an accredited organization.

Advocate: A person or group of people who actively support or argue for a cause, policy, etc. on behalf of those who need assistance to act on their own behalf

Doula: The word doula comes from the Greek word for the most important female servant in an ancient Greek household. The doula helped the woman of the house through childbearing and performed other household duties. Today's doula is a woman experienced in childbirth, who provides physical, emotional, practical and informational support to a mother before, during and after childbirth.

Mother-Baby Nursing: The health care team cares for the mother and baby together throughout their stay in the Health Centre.

Continuum of Care: Health services can be considered to form a continuum, ranging from health promotion and illness prevention activities, to sophisticated, specialized acute care.

Family Centred Care: A way of caring for patients that recognizes and respects the essential role of their family in their lives. Family-centred care strives to support families in their care-giving role; and promotes a partnership of mutual respect and support among families and staff.

Health Care: Those services provided to individuals or communities through health organizations or professions. The aim of health care is to enhance, maintain, restore, and monitor health. It is not limited to medical care provided by physicians, but includes many professions.

Health Care Team: A team made up of staff, physicians, other health care professionals, partners and volunteers, as appropriate, who together are responsible to make, put in place and review a care plan that meets the needs of patients and families. The team may, at times address administrative issues and quality improvement

Health Promotion: The process that enables people to increase control over, and to improve their health (World Health Organization, 1986). Health is seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable eco-system, sustainable resources, social justice and equity.

Learning: As a 'learning organization' the IWK is committed to providing today's and tomorrow's health professionals with advanced knowledge about health, illness and disease; and to creating an environment characterized by a spirit of inquiry, innovation, collaboration and continuous learning.

Learners: The IWK partners with students in a variety of health care programs at universities throughout the Maritimes and health professionals working in partner agencies. Learners are a very important part of the health care team. As a teaching Health Centre, the IWK is committed to providing learners with the valuable, practical experience they need to pursue their careers as health care providers. The IWK also recognizes all staff and volunteers as 'learners'; whether through orientation to a new role, introduction to new technologies, or the introduction of new work processes.

Primary Care: Care to which users have direct access - can include diagnosis and treatment; referral to secondary health care level; prevention care; and heath promotion and education. Primary health care could be visiting your family doctor or nurse practitioner, talking to a dietician or a pharmacist, or calling a toll-free health advice line to talk to a health professional.

Program-Based Care: A way of providing care that puts patients and families first by creating interdisciplinary care teams whose members work together to coordinate the care of families. See definition of health care team.

Secondary Care: Care for which patients do not have direct access and for which they must be referred from some other part of the health system - most Health Centre specialist services.

Tertiary Care: A form of care that is highly specialized or complex.

Well-Being: If you refer to someone's well-being, you are referring to whether they are healthy, happy, etc., so that life is enjoyable.


A Guide to IWK Health Centre Acronyms!

(IWK = Izaak Walton Killam)

CCG Children's Cancer Group 

CHIRPP Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program 

CNS Clinical Nurse Specialist 

CIU Clinical Investigation Unit 

CSPD Central Sterile Processing Department 

DI Diagnostic Imaging 

ECG Electrocardiography 

EEG Electroencephalography 

EMG Electromyography 

ENT Ear, Nose, & Throat 

ERG Electrodiagnosis 

FATC Fetal Assessment and Treatment Centre 

FCCC Family-Centred Care, Family-Centred Care Council, Family-Centred Care Coordinator 

HR Human Resources 

IT Information Technology 

IVF InVitro Fertilization 

MAC Medical Advisory Committee 

NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit 

6 NORTH Patient Care Team: Nephrology, Oncology, Research, Transplant, Hematology 

PAT Clinic Pediatric Assessment Treatment Clinic 

PDC Professional Development Consultant 

PICU Pediatric Intensive Care Unit 

PMU Pediatric Medical Unit 

PNC Perinatal Clinic 

PR Public Relations 

RCP Reproductive Care Program 

RN Registered Nurse 

RRU Respiratory Rehabilitation Unit 

UPA University Pediatric Association