Crucial Conversations

Research has shown that healthcare providers tend to struggle to confront their peers when they see errors being made or issues that impact team morale and quality of care for patients. These conversations are high stakes and often difficult to initiate. 

There are seven high-stakes conversation areas in particular, where healthcare providers tend to have difficulty. These include situations where rules are broken, mistakes are made, there is a lack of support, incompetence, poor teamwork, disrespect, and/or micromanagement.  


Course information

Crucial Conversations® teaches skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics. By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), participants surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on their decisions with unity and commitment.

After the live, online, 12-hour course, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss why policies and procedures are not enough to support safe patient care
  • Outline the important steps in holding a difficult conversation
  • Recognize that successful conversations start with an assessment of our own contribution to the situation
  • Engage others in a successful action-oriented conversation

Participants of Crucial Conversations® will receive a toolkit, a copy of the New York Times bestselling book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (2nd Ed.), as well as access to online resources to help refine their skills and retain learning.


This activity is an Accredited Self-Assessment Program (Section 3) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and approved by the University of Calgary Office of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development.

This 2 credit-per-hour “Group Learning” activity has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 23 Mainpro+ certified credits.


This comprehensive course is available to physicians, residents, medical students, and other healthcare providers.

Please contact for more information.

Refund Policy:

Full refunds, cancellations, and transfers will be accepted up until digital course materials are sent out (usually 1-2 weeks prior to the course start date) after that time, we will only be able to issue a partial 50% refund.

A minimum of 10 registrations are required in order to run the course. 

If the workshop is canceled by the Office of Lifelong Learning due to low enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances, you will be issued a full refund or have the option of transferring your enrollment to another open session. 


Crucial Conversations is hosted by Debrah Wirtzfeld, MD, ACC, MBA, an adjunct Professor of Surgery at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. 


Debrah has spent the last 15 years studying leadership and has identified a few important things that can enhance your success, whether leading informally through supporting your patients or leading change within the healthcare system. 

Known as a collaborative leader, Debrah has a passion for harnessing success in others through her work as a change agent and Executive Coach. She considers Crucial Conversations to be one of the pillars of effective leadership as it gives you the skills to open doors to resolving conflict, managing negotiations, and building relationships. She believes that being able to listen with empathy and truly hearing others will take you to the next level in your career. It will empower you to understand your patients, relate to your colleagues, and even build on important personal relationships!


"Crucial Conversations is one of the best leadership courses that I have ever taken. Partway through the course, I already was using the skills that were being taught. I have substantially more confidence and skills to have crucial conversations, and appreciate the ability to analyze when I need to shift gears and what I can shift. I will be recommending Crucial Conversations to people who are entering leadership positions or even those who want to have more effective conversations with their teams."

"This was a phenomenal course and I really wish I had taken it 10 or 20 years ago; I really believe every learner should take it.  So insightful and helpful in terms of strategies to change a conversation from a huge conflict to a common goal."

"Debrah you are a gifted instructor; the pace, moderation, and instruction around these tools was crystal clear and relevant to every day conversations.  A million thanks to you and Melanie!"

"Overall good course that informed me of the traps I have fallen into during difficult conversations"