Dr. Jay Walker: Balancing a life in dentistry

Dr. Jay Walker is a proud Western graduate, who has been a passionate instructor and mentor for Schulich Dentistry students for more than three decades. Currently juggling her teaching workload, community practice, and service as chair of the Adjunct Committee, Dr. Walker took a few minutes to share her thoughts on a variety of topics.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching dentistry?

I have been involved for many years in establishing a voice and political presence for the Adjunct Clinical Instructors, alongside Drs. Elliott Gnidec and James Jean. The adjuncts are the backbone of the students’ educational experience. I have enjoyed my relationships with other Adjunct Clinical Instructors, and the Full-Time Instructors.

Every day teaching is a fun day for me. With very few exceptions, students are so enthusiastic, hardworking, and focused. They inspire me and they force me to stay current in my knowledge.

Best piece of advice for new grads?

Take continuing dental education courses, especially hands-on courses given by specialists in the area of interest. Graduating students have been provided with building blocks to be great dentists, but new grads need to learn how to use those building blocks. In addition, it is important to build strong relationships with specialists in the


 community – they can teach you and save you from mistakes. Don’t forget to engage in social justice programmes too. And find a hobby – something outside your comfort level.

What is my family life like?

I am married to a dually trained pediatric dentist and orthodontist. We have six kids – only one is studying dentistry – periodontics in the U.S. We have four dogs who make me laugh.

What is exciting for the Schulich Dentistry today?

Kudos to Dr. Garcia for her oversight during the past the last three years. Job well done! Now we are very excited to welcome our new Vice Dean and Director. I was part of the selection process and can tell you we had many incredible candidates. Dr. Quiñonez brings enthusiasm and a fresh positive outlook for us all. He is full of exciting ideas and will propel us in a positive direction. I charge us all to make him feel welcome, bring him our ideas, and support his vision.