Spotlight on part-time faculty members

Part-time faculty members at Schulich Dentistry help deliver exceptional programming to undergraduate and postgraduate learners. More than 150 local dentists and orthodontists commit their time and energy to learners, sharing outstanding knowledge and skills in providing exemplary care to the diverse communities the School serves.

Two of the School’s part-time faculty members share their own journeys in dental education, and discuss the important role they play at Schulich Dentistry.

Dr. Drew Smith, Adjunct Clinical Professor

Dr. Drew SmithWhile I am now well-entrenched in the London dental community, I have always considered myself a bit of an outsider. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, I attended St. Francis Xavier University for my undergraduate degree before moving on to Dalhousie for my Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. A General Practice Residency in Minneapolis was next, followed by my specialty training (MSc) in orthodontics at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

I moved to London upon graduation in 1996, partly for the opportunity to teach at Schulich Dentistry, and have been happily practising as an orthodontist since. I serve as an adjunct clinical professor in the Division of Orthodontics and Paediatric Dentistry. 

I am committed to teaching at Schulich Dentistry, as I was inspired by a number of my clinical professors throughout my dental education and they really helped shape who I am as a professional today.

Private practice experience brought to the dental clinic at the School is such an important part of dental education, as it brings so much more to the table than just the didactic and clinical aspects of our profession. The 'part-timers' add patient management approaches from multiple perspectives, not to mention facets of practice management, helping to develop an ethical lens that the students can view the patients through, rather than just focusing on criteria for graduation.

The advice I have always given to the students since I started at Schulich Dentistry in 1996 is simple – do good work and treat people fairly, and success will surely follow. Current students also know me for my mantra of the importance of patient communication in running an efficient practice with happy patients and staff.

Dentistry, like all aspects of health care, is changing at an amazing rate. New technologies and techniques help to keep me inspired every day. The satellite program of rotating students through my office is particularly satisfying to me, as the students get to see first-hand how technology is applied in clinical practice. They always leave with a big smile knowing what’s in store for them down the road.

Dr. Sonia Palleck, DDS’93, MClD’99, Adjunct Clinical Professor

Dr. Sonia PalleckI am in private solo practice, having completed my specialty training in orthodontics at Schulich Dentistry in 1999, and built an office in Woodstock. I completed a one year dental internship at the hospitals after I graduated from Schulich Dentistry in 1993. 

I was teaching in Oral Surgery as a clinical instructor while I was the staff dentist at University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre from 1994 to 1996. I taught undergraduate orthodontics as a part-time clinical instructor when I was in my graduate program. 

I became a clinical instructor in the Graduate Orthodontic clinic eight years ago. This has been my most rewarding station as I am able to not only teach my techniques, but also be a practice mentor.

Dentists serve a very important role in people's health and well-being. Dental colleagues are in a very special position to relate while teaching. There is a compassion and understanding that a dentist in private practice can bring to a dental student that may have the majority of their education provided by the university professors.

My favourite thing is being kept current on advances in orthodontics and discussions and debates that arise from different view points. I always advise young professionals to follow their passion and remember to work to live, not live to work. Dentistry can be consuming and life is short.

Dental technologies obviously change faster than the curriculums can adjust. Trying to stay cutting edge is a challenge and that is why part time clinical instructors are so important. I can implement changes quicker than an institution, and keep students current in their thinking and practice. In orthodontics, this is true of the scanning and digital approaches to treatment that we use every day.

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry extends its sincere appreciation to the part-time Dentistry faculty members. Thank you for sharing in our mission of education and research.