Introduction to Undersea Medicine Canada

There are thousands of commercial, scientific, harvesting and aquaculture, and recreational divers across Canada who require medical care by diving physicians. Until recently however, there were no regular diving medicine courses available in Canada outside of the military. Interested physicians generally needed to travel abroad for training, and although many courses are of good quality, they do not address Canadian diving regulations and safety standards, diver medical forms, or focus on the nuances of Canadian diving practices. This reduces the value of such courses to Canadian professionals.

The non-profit educational organization ‘Undersea Medicine Canada’ (UMC) was established in 2016 to offer courses in diving and hyperbaric medicine designed for Canadian physicians. Although physicians are the target audience, hyperbaric nurses and certified hyperbaric technologists (CHTs) will also benefit from these courses.

The 3rd ‘Introductory Course in Diving Medicine – Fitness to Dive’ is now open for registration.

An expert faculty of diving medicine physicians, scientists, and technical staff has been assembled to deliver the program. Click here for information on faculty members. Upon successful completion of the course, physicians will qualify as a CSA Z275.2-15 Level 1 Diving Medical Examiner and can have their name listed with the Diver Certification Board of Canada (DCBC) to conduct commercial diver medicals in Canada. This Group Learning Program has been accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for 35 MAINPRO+ CME credits. The course will be taught in English, but several of the faculty members are native French speakers.

The course will be held in Québec City, QC from 7-11 May 2018 at the Québec Aquarium, 1675 Avenue des Hôtels, Ville de Québec, QC G1W 4S3. A small block of rooms has been reserved at the very pleasant Hôtel Sépia, 3135 Chemin Saint-Louis, Ville de Québec, QC G1W 1R9 which is within easy walking distance to the Aquarium. A corporate rate of $130/night has been secured which includes parking, a daily hot breakfast, and WiFi. If you are planning to stay there, we would recommend that you book early. Call (418) 653-4941 and tell them that you are with the Undersea Medicine Canada diving medicine course. You can also visit their website at

The course fee is $1250 + $100 GST for the week. This includes catered lunches, refreshment breaks, a Welcome Reception on the first evening of the course, and transportation for site visits and tours.

Dr Debbie Pestell is the Medical Director for Undersea Medicine Canada. She served in the Royal Canadian Navy for 21 years, the last ten as the Diving and Submarine Medicine Consultant for the Canadian Forces after having completed a fellowship in diving and hyperbaric medicine with the US Air Force and US Navy, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Since retiring from the military in 2011, she has worked in the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, NS and provides medical support to commercial divers and diving operations across the Maritimes. Dr Pestell teaches diving and hyperbaric medicine courses internationally, and is the current President of the Canadian Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Association (CUHMA),

Dr Neal Pollock is the Scientific Director for Undersea Medicine Canada. He has long-standing ties to Duke University and Divers Alert Network (DAN), both in Durham, NC. He conducted research at Duke in the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology between 1997 and 2016, and served as DAN Research Director from 2008 to 2016, as well as the continuing medical education course director. His academic training is in zoology, exercise physiology and environmental physiology. His research interests focus on human health and safety in extreme environments, including all forms of diving. He is currently an Associate Professor in Kinesiology at Université Laval in Québec City, QC and is developing research at the Centre de medicine de plongee du Québec, Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis, QC. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Association (CUHMA), on the editorial board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, and as Editor-in-Chief of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

If you have any further questions or require additional information, Dr Pestell can be reached at or at (902) 225-8214.


Group Photo

Introductory Course in Diving Medicine – Fitness to Dive, Halifax, Nov 2016