Conversation with Dr. Paul Allison: Thank you for a great deanship
I had the pleasure of hosting Dr, Paul Allison, current Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University. Dr. Allison’s term of deanship will end on June 30th of this year and we at CDA Oasis wanted to say Thank you to a great leader!
Dr. Allison is a dentist with professional training in the fields of oral surgery and dental public health as well as research training in the field of clinical epidemiology. Broadly, his research interests concern the psycho-social and behavioral aspects of oral health and oral health care. In particular, Dr. Allison is interested in the evaluation of various educational interventions, the development and validation of health-related quality of life and similar instruments, the use of these instruments to describe the oral health of various populations and to evaluate the effectiveness of various interventions, and the investigation of how psycho-social factors are involved in the etiology of oral health problems and how they affect patient prognosis. My current research projects concern issues of access to oral health care.
I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did and you find it useful. Lots of good ideas are shared on how dental education can facilitate oral care for under-served populations. If you prefer to see the conversation in French, click here.
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Until next time!
Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager
How would you describe your deanship at McGill and what do you consider as the high moments?
My deanship has been an amazing experience in which I’ve learned quite a lot. I’ve interacted with so many different people that I perhaps would not have interacted with and certainly in different ways than if I had not been dean; and I’ve learned so much from those people.”
As a service to the community; creating new services, creating new learning opportunities for dental students and residents, and engaging our researchers and our research graduate students in those activities. The idea being that we should be at the vanguard of these activities, the universities, the faculty should be the vanguard of change in the dental profession in a variety of ways, we should be trying to create and pilot new service delivery models. We should be putting our students and our residents into those services so that they’re learning about interacting with different groups and they’re learning about providing different forms of dental care in different settings with different groups of people; and so that they take on these messages and they become themselves the champions for creating new forms of service for different groups, particularly groups that are currently unable to access dental care.
McGill has shown a keen interest in research and McGill students have been awarded an increased number of awards this year, does that reflect your own interest and belief in oral health research?
My predecessor, Jim Lund did an amazing job of bringing in some really good researchers and initiating some great research programs. In this faculty, one research program comes to mind, which is in the field of pain research; and I was lucky enough to inherit that good work and hopefully I’ve built on that work and we continue to move forward in that area.
What is the future of dental education and what should dental schools focus on to prepare the next generation of Canadian dentists?
One of the biggest visible areas reflecting what we have been doing is moving into an entirely new clinical facility, which was a great challenge; but I also think a great success at the same time. Moving into the new clinical facility took the faculty into the 21st century. We’re now in a place where I think we can use these facilities to build on, to create new ways and new mechanisms and techniques for teaching and learning. For instance, we have a means to create videos for our undergraduate students and for continuing education where we can interactively feature live patient and live demonstrations whether that be with students or with professionals from the dental community. So, there are all sorts of opportunities for us moving forward, quite the accomplishment.
What are some of the challenges facing dental education today?
So, there are so many different things that are going on in our society that need to be considered There are issues around the health status of the population. There are interesting issues around healthcare, dental care delivery mechanisms to the overall population. And then, there are issues around the way we are interacting socially, the obvious examples being the electronic communications. Another area is lifelong learning. We’ve been talking about lifelong learning for many years, but I really think that we in universities in general and dental schools in particular, need to think about this are differently. In universities we tend to set up our learning in a very structured way. You’ve got an undergraduate degree, your bachelors and then you got a professional degree like a DDS or DMD, and then you’ve got your master’s and your PhD; and you got a few variants on that, but not very much. If we think about the future of the dental profession and of training dental professionals, I think we really need to think about integrating continuing education with the what’s going on a day-to-day basis in schools and thinking about creating new modules of learning to equip our professionals in the field and in the community.
Oasis Moment – Take Away Message (1.46″)
Full Conversation (9.39″)