Pearls of Wisdom for Effective Pandemic Response Virtual Webinar
This month marks the 10th Anniversary of Women in Dentistry, an organization founded in 2010 by Toronto-based prosthodontist, Dr. Effie Habsha. With a membership in excess of 1,500 registrants, the organization addresses common issues faced by women in the dental profession and hosts live events, web resources, and social media networking opportunities across Canada and beyond.
But like every other organization in the COVID-19 world, Women in Dentistry has been forced to pivot their well laid plans. Speaking via Zoom under pandemic lockdown, Dr. Habsha recalls the moment when it became clear that she would have to postpone this year’s Women in Dentistry live symposium, scheduled for April 24th.
“There was this realization that everything is done. Lecturing, traveling, so many things in the calendar that came to an immediate halt. It took 24 hours and then it was like, okay, you just have to adapt. Because if you don’t you’re not going to survive.”
In a matter of days, Dr. Habsha had reinvented the Women in Dentistry annual symposium as an online event, co-hosted by CDA Oasis. It is still scheduled for April 24th - an impressive recovery, given the circumstances. But then considering her track record, that’s hardly surprising.
Born in Tel Aviv, Dr. Habsha moved to Toronto when she was four years old. She studied dentistry at the University of Toronto at both graduate and master’s level. She made an early decision to specialize and by 1998 became only the second woman in Canada to specialize in prosthodontics. She joined Prosthodontic Associates in the same year and has been building a busy practice ever since, as well as keeping up a hectic schedule of national and international lectures.
But the trailblazing didn’t stop there. In 2010, as a mother juggling four young children and a busy dental practice, Dr. Habsha decided to start the Women in Dentistry group. Originally conceived as a way to connect with female referrals, in ten short years, Women in Dentistry has grown to be an important initiative, given the shifting gender demographics of the profession. Two years ago, dental school classes tipped in favor of female students for the first time. The majority of graduates are now female. And while the number of women practicing dentistry is higher than ever before, issues remain when it comes to representation in the leadership body, role-modelling, mentorship and work life balance.
“Our mission is to help guide and empower women in the dentistry field and to build a community that strives to achieve a healthy balance between our work and our personal lives,” says Dr. Habsha. “To bring women together to network, share and learn from each other’s unique perspective.”
This year’s online symposium may be the first of its kind for the dental community in Canada. A full 2 hours of speakers include Dr. Sally Safa, Dr. Reena Talwar and Dr. Aaron Burry, speaking on topics ranging from Practice Recovery after the Pandemic to Mindful Leadership to Triage and Management of Dental Emergencies during Covid-19. And though many of the participants this Friday will be from the Canadian dental community, Dr. Habsha doesn’t see why Women in Dentistry can’t include networks from around the world. Thinking back to when it all started, she says
“You can live your life safe and not put yourself out there, but for me I’m running with it. If you build it, they will come. Well, we built it and they came.”