Vice Dean's Message

Photograph of Dr. Bertha GarciaIt has been a pleasure to serve as the Vice Dean & Director of Schulich Dentistry for the past eight months. While this is not a role that I would have predicted in my career, I feel uplifted and inspired by the work that is taking place each and every day in our school of Dentistry. Much of that is because of the dedication, commitment and engagement of the faculty, staff, students and alumni in Dentistry.

Together we have accomplished a lot. This issue of The Bridge celebrates and acknowledges just some of that work, while profiling students, two new faculty members and some of our research initiatives.

There is so much more taking place.

As you may know, for some time we have been focused on increasing our faculty complement, and I’m pleased that we have been able to welcome six new full-time faculty members already.

These include Drs. Amarpreet Sabharwal, Cecilia Dong, Sharat Pani, Shawn Steele, Trevor Thang and Liliani Vieira. Eight new adjunct faculty members have also joined the clinical teachers team incuding Drs. Patrick Winter, Luis DaSilva, Yiyi Zhang, John Suljak, Angel Sanchez, Amanda Reavely, David Harris and Rajan Gupta.

At the same time, we have strengthen our leadership team welcoming several faculty members to new roles. These include Dr. Fernando Inocencio, Assistant Director, Academic Affairs; Dr. Rae Dorion, Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs; Dr. Shawn Steele, Director, Dentistry Surgical Care Unit; Dr. Liliani Vieira, Chair, Paediatrics; Dr. Trevor Thang, Chair, Oral Medicine & Radiology; Dr. Ali Tassi, Interim Program Director, Graduate Orthodontics.

This past spring, we launched our new clinic-training model, which is profiled in some depth in an article in The Bridge. The model pairs third and fourth-year students in their operative clinical cases providing an enhanced clinical learning experience and peer mentoring. Introducing the model is part of a larger move to a group practice model that more closely resembles private practice in the community.

At the end of 2019, the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada informed the School that all of its programs are fully accredited. This includes the Doctor of Dental Surgery, Internationally Trained Dentists, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Graduate Orthodontics and the General Practice Residency programs. In doing so, they commended the School in meeting all the requirements and recommendations that the Commission has requested. The CDAC identified few additional recommendations and requested a follow-up report in August 2020.

We could not have achieved this without the dedication of the faculty and staff who are committed to ongoing quality improvement and who remain steadfastly focused on creating and providing outstanding learning and patient care experiences.

Behind the scenes, we are identifying and reviewing all of Dentistry’s processes, including those associated with the teaching clinics and simulation facilities. Our goal is to achieve standardization, good quality assurance methodologies and increased efficiencies. And I’m pleased to report that we are well on our way.

Since my appointment, we have also fine-tuned the student town halls with a student-centred agenda, which is built in partnership with our Associate Dean, Undergraduate Dental Education and other academic leaders.

Students bring their questions forward, and they also bring information obtained through their networks for further discussion. For example, we are currently engaged in a benchmarking exercise with other dental schools regarding students’ expenses to see what opportunities exist to help address their challenges.

Looking ahead, we have several priorities, but top amongst them is to continue recruiting new faculty members; to complete the implementation of the new clinical model; launching the expanded three-year program for the Internationally Trained Dentists and expanding our continuing dental education initiatives, including calibration of community part-time faculty.

We have planned a few alumni events, one taking place in March in Vancouver and the other in May in Toronto. I hope to have the opportunity to meet many alumni at the events and continue to share the outstanding work taking place in Dentistry.

2020 is a very special year for our school. We are preparing for and looking forward to Homecoming Weekend in October when we will celebrate the 50th reunion with our inaugural Class of 1970.

I hope that you enjoy this year’s issue of The Bridge, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events.

Dr. Bertha Garcia, Vice Dean & Director
Schulich Dentistry