Volume 9 • 2022 • Issue 6

Dr. Lynn Tomkins president@cda-adc.ca Responsive Dental Schools, Resilient Profession Since becoming CDA president in April, the announcement of an increased federal investment in dental care has been the primary focus of my work with the CDA board. Like many in our profession, we’ve been considering some significant questions about the future of dentistry. How can our oral health care system better care for underserved Canadians? How will our work as dentists evolve in response to this federal investment, but also to the social, technological and economic changes that are shaping our nation? In times like these, I often think of a quote attributed to Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Our profession has a proud history of transformation and expansion of our knowledge and treatments as science and technology advance and the needs of patients change. I believe that our ability to be responsive is rooted in our university education, our grounding in critical thinking and scientific skepticism. Our dental schools are the incubators of the dental and oral surgeons of the future and forge new ideas through innovative research. University-based research produces the scientific data that help us decide which materials have the properties we need and empowers us to make objective treatment recommendations to our patients. More than 90% of oral health research, which is the core of the evidence-based clinical knowledge on which our profession is based, takes place in our dental schools. Universities are producing new treatments in gene therapy, biomaterials, cell cultures and tissue growth that will, in time, become everyday dentistry. A strong dental profession requires strong dental schools. Our 10 schools have been innovating their educational models, improving their facilities, and rethinking the student experience, while navigating considerable funding and staffing challenges (p. 22). I’ve seen this first-hand at the University of Toronto, where I’ve had the privilege of being a clinical instructor since 1990. The new federal funding for dental care will require graduating students to be well rounded and confident in working with a more diverse patient population and a broader range of needs. CDA’s Future of the Profession Task Force recommended that extending the educational process with a PGY1 (a “post graduate year one” during which new graduates would work in a variety of settings) could help build confidence and enhance clinical skills, while also exposing them to different models of delivery. At the same time, a PGY1 could increase the capacity of university dental clinics to provide care to the underserved Canadians that the new federal funding will reach. We have an opportunity to think about the future of our profession and what an optimal oral health care system that serves all Canadians could look like. It’s an important moment to support our dental schools so that they can continue their outstanding work educating the next generation of dental researchers, educators as well as well-rounded, frontline oral physicians that can interact knowledgeably and comfortably with the medical systemwhile providing excellent patient care. Our universities need our support, whether we provide it by remaining active in alumni associations, mentoring dental students, contributing financially or teaching. We owe a great deal to our alma maters; indeed, I believe that our continued status as a respected profession is dependent on them. From the President 7 Issue 6 | 2022 | CDA atWork