Charting a new path forward

On October 12, faculty, leaders and student representatives came together at a full-day retreat to discuss the future of Schulich Dentistry. This included their vision for clinical education, curriculum and the student experience at the School, as well as the profession of dentistry as a whole.

The goal of the retreat was to gather information that would help inform the transition and priorities of the new Vice Dean & Director, once appointed.

“Dentistry is a complex unit that is geographically distributed across four floors of the Dental Sciences Building. Coming together has helped focus the group on our common purpose,” said Dr. Bertha Garcia, Acting Vice Dean & Director.

The day began with participants being asked to reflect on the past 18 months at the School; to share their highs and lows, and insights from the lessons learned.

“It was insightful to see the commonalities of the highs and lows amongst staff, faculty and students. As well, it was touching to see the pride people had in achieving so much during the difficult pandemic times,” Dr. Nedra Peter said. Peter is an adjunct clinical professor, who was involved in organizing the event.

Lisa Johnson, Director of Dentistry Operations, also presented findings from a survey with all students and faculty at the School, as well as information generated from meetings with staff members, identifying Dentistry’s strengths as well as opportunities for growth.

Participants were asked to discuss the main themes from the survey results in small groups. These included infrastructure, facility and human resource needs, potential growth of graduate programs, Continuing Dental Education opportunities and the development of partnerships with community practises and hospitals.

“The most impactful part of the day was the free-flowing small-group conversations, with a mix of faculty, staff and students dreaming of a better future together as a strong and unique dental school,” Dr. Garcia shared.

To conclude the retreat, Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, Professor and Director of the Graduate Specialty Program in Dental Public Health at the University of Toronto, gave a keynote lecture titled ‘Dental Education: The Future is Now.’  Quiñonez’s research focuses on the politics and economics of dentistry, with a specific focus on health and social equity. He spoke about the history and future of dental education in Canada and highlighted the importance of fostering the concepts of social responsibility and accountability in future dentists.