“You gave me my smile back,” the patient said, beaming up at Rachelle Laviolette, DDS’14, from the dental clinic chair.
Laviolette had just finished her last appointment with the patient at Schulich Dentistry’s main adult clinic, a special moment for the fourth year student.
“Dentistry truly has the potential to touch people’s lives,” she said. “This moment reaffirmed for me that I had chosen the right profession.”
It is a profession she is entering with 56 other classmates on Friday, June 13 as the Dentistry Class of 2014.
During her time at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Laviolette contributed to the School and local communities through volunteerism and student leadership.
A volunteer with Sharing Smiles Day and the Dental Outreach Community Services (DOCS) program, Laviolette embraced the value of social responsibility and giving back the School promotes.
As vice president, finance for the University of Western Ontario Dental Student Society (UWODSS), she also helped organize student and faculty events.
In October 2013, Laviolette was selected for the Northern Ontario Clinical Elective in Moose Factory, Ontario. For two weeks, she provided hospital-based dentistry to the underserved population.
“The experience was extremely rewarding,” she said. “The patients were happy to receive the care they needed and I was able to greatly improve my diagnostic skills.”
It was childhood trips to her family dentist that first sparked Laviolette’s interest in the field. In high school, she spent time shadowing in the practice and learning what the job entailed.
“My own passion developed through observation,” she explained. “For me, this passion is about the intimate nature of the dentist-patient relationship and the meticulous hand skills that are required for successful treatment.”
Laviolette completed her bachelor of science at McGill University in 2009.
With the dental profession in her sights, she knew Schulich Dentistry was the right fit. “I felt very welcomed from the moment I set foot on the Western campus for my interview,” she said. “I chose to attend Schulich Dentistry because of its academic merit, strong clinical program and sense of community.”
For Laviolette, the one-on-one clinical instruction she received from faculty members was invaluable. “This was really crucial to the development of my clinical skills,” she said.
In July, Laviolette will be starting a full-time associate position in a Hamilton dental practice. She is working toward opening a practice of her own, with a focus in cosmetic dentistry.
Looking forward to many happy reunions with her classmates at future alumni events, Laviolette also plans to return to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry for continuing dental education courses.
But it is the personal relationships she built with her patients that have had the most impact on the young professional as she begins her career.
“Schulich Dentistry has given me the ability to foster meaningful relationships with my patients,” she said. “I already miss them.”
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry congratulates Rachelle and the entire Dentistry Class of 2014 on their achievements during the past four years and on their graduation.