Volume 9 • 2022 • Issue 6

School pride Throughout the pandemic, we continued to manage to train and graduate our students. I’m extremely proud of the entire faculty, staff and student’s dedication and resilience. I’m also excited for the return to normalcy—including aerosol-generating procedures no longer being restricted to enclosed operatories for non-COVID patients, and the return of in-person classes and activities. I am proud of our new, modern satellite clinic at 777 Bay St. where we continue to provide excellent patient care and student training. Finally, I am eagerly anticipating the beginning of our simulation lab renovation. Challenges Our mission remains to shape the future of dentistry to promote optimal health by preparing the next generation of clinicians, scientists, educators, and leaders in the profession, conducting high-impact research, promoting comprehensive and patient‑centred care. One challenge is recruiting and maintaining excellent faculty members. We need to attract and provide mentorship for potential leaders, scientists and educators. Our curriculum is also challenging for students. We need to ensure that our academic environment allows students to focus on patient-centred care. Student wellness will continue to be a priority. The new federal investment in dental care for low-income Canadians promises to deliver the largest expansion for dental care in Canada. The faculty wholly supports the objective of the federal government to increase access to dental care. The federal plan, however, may have unintended negative consequences on the ability of dental faculties to attract patients and train future dentists. It is important for all dental faculties to be a strong voice in organized dentistry, with government and with our regulators to advocate for the needs of the school and stakeholders. Our faculty is currently focused on revitalizing and rebuilding our infrastructure to provide a fantastic new clinic for student learning and patient care. We would not be able to do this without financial support of our outstanding community. Evolution of dental education The dentistry curriculum continues to expand with the emergence of new materials, techniques and knowledge that covers the broad oral health spectrum. We are always striving to keep our curriculum up-to-date and relevant. We will do so by incorporating more digital dentistry, professionalism, and service to diverse and vulnerable populations. It’s also important for dental education to broaden outreach programs and to integrate research in undergraduate education. Our faculty has put more work into EDI initiatives—I think this is important for all dental schools. Lastly, during the pandemic, we learned very quickly how to adapt to different educational technologies; I believe some of these new elements will remain for the foreseeable future. School pride I am really proud of how our faculty, staff and students stepped up to deal with the realities of COVID-19. While we’re not out of it just yet, their sheer dint of will demonstrated what we’re capable of in very difficult circumstances. Coming out of COVID-19 has also presented us with an opportunity for significant renewal, and we’re taking advantage of it to define the future of dental education at Western University and hopefully beyond! Challenges Funding, faculty and staff recruitment, and curriculum renewal. Over thenext 5 to10 years, dental education will need to become more socially, operationally, and environmentally sustainable. University of Toronto Western University Dr. Laura Tam, interim dean of the Faculty of Dentistry Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, vice-dean and director of dentistry at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry 28 | 2022 | Issue 6 Issues and People