The thick, humid air and small, unorthodox work space in the tiny church didn’t dampen Jennifer Archibald’s enthusiasm as she set up her dental equipment and looked up to see a long line of people waiting to receive care. In fact, it inspired her.
Archibald was one of several Schulich Dentistry students who travelled to Jamaica this past summer to provide free dental care for one week to the islanders. It was just one in a long line of experiential learning opportunities she has enjoyed during her dentistry training.
Archibald is a big picture thinker. And for her, the journey to becoming a dentist has included more than long hours studying and refining her skills in the simulation lab and clinic.
It has meant asking important research questions, working at the bench, volunteering with the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) program, working in a community hospital in Moose Factory and a soup kitchen in London, and teaching young people the benefits of good oral health through the DOCSKids program, all while mentoring her peers.
Passionate about research, Archibald has spent three summers involved with the School’s Summer Student Research Program. She enjoyed rewarding research experiences after her first year with Graeme Hunter, PhD, and Harvey Goldberg, PhD, when she focused on biomineralization, and during her second year with Drs. Jacinta Santos and Gildo Santos when she completed a clinical evaluation of different treatment options for tooth restoration.
Following her third year, Archibald went in yet another direction and began working with Dr. Sahza Hatibovic-Kofman.
Working at the Children's Clinic and three community clinics, Archibald conducted research on the efficacy of a new sealant material for paediatric patients. Her work garnered her the CDA/DENTSPLY Award at Schulich Dentistry’s annual Research Day, and she’ll travel to the 2017 Canadian Dental Association National Conference to present her findings.
While Archibald spent the summer in the lab, during the academic year, she indulged her passion for the local community by volunteering with DOCS.
The program provides free dental care to low-income families who have no dental insurance.
As challenging as it was to make the time due to the demands of her studies, she felt invigorated after each session. “I’d be at the clinic helping out with DOCS and say to myself, wow, I get to do this as part of my training and I’ve just made a huge difference in someone’s life,” she said.
Making a difference in people’s lives is one of the things that Archibald loves so much about dentistry. And when she was chosen to travel to Moose Factory in Northern Ontario to provide dental care to community members she jumped at the opportunity.
“To be selected to participate was incredible,” she said. “We worked for two weeks providing hospital dentistry and learning about the health issues people face in Ontario’s North.”
Meanwhile back in London, Archibald is furthering her commitment to the community as an executive member of DOCSKids and by volunteering in a local soup kitchen. She is also an executive and founding member of the Western University branch of the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association, a national, student-driven association that was established to promote and support students’ life-long commitment to ethical behaviour — to benefit the patients they serve and to further the dental profession.
With only a few months until graduation, Archibald is grateful for her experiences thus far. “I’m so happy that I came to Schulich Dentistry. We’re really lucky we’re getting such a great education.”
Through it all she has learned the value of collaboration, teamwork and the importance of community. She’ll take all the lessons and experiences from the past four years to complete her journey of becoming Dr. Archibald.