I had the great pleasure of meeting virtually and for the first time Dr. Erin Hennessy, President of the Nova Scotia Dental Association. Her journey started with the arts, traveled through education and landed in dentistry. She graduated in 2004 as a valedictorian from Dalhousie University and was awarded the CDA President’s award “presented to the graduate who has shown the most outstanding qualities of leadership and character, and who may be expected to become a leader in the dental profession, the dental community, and society at large”.
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Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager
Dr. Erin Hennessy’s career has had many interesting twists and turns. With a background in musical theater, she toured with her own company throughout the Maritimes. Much of her theater work had an educational slant so becoming a teacher was a natural progression. Finally, after being inspired by her dentist father-in-law, she decided to join the armed forces and study dentistry at Dalhousie University. She graduated in 2004 as her class valedictorian and currently, she is the president of the Nova Scotia Dental Society.
Given her strong arts background, Dr. Hennessy finds that the arts has helped her see dental issues from different perspectives – social, historical, economic – and not just from a bio-medical one. Her education background has also helped her develop meaningful messaging for her patients.
Her memories of dental school are positive with supportive friends and colleagues. She was challenged with work-life balance having had a baby during her third year of dental school. One of the biggest challenges currently for dental students, in general, is the substantial debt load upon graduation. For women, this can be particularly problematic as they may struggle with having to repay the debt and find time to have a family which usually means some time off from their professional lives.
Dr. Hennessy has had great mentors along the way who have worked in organized dentistry. Her foray into organized dentistry began with work at the local level before she started at the provincial level. Organized dentistry has given her the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals that have similar goals. Women’s involvement in dentistry really reflects women in society with respect to age and cultural diversity.
Full Interview (15.48″)