If I show respect, I am likely to be respected
By now, every dentist in Canada must be aware of the Facebook group behavior at Dalhousie University that has featured prominently in media across the country for the past month. There has been a lot of very heated discourse about what should be done in the wake of this series of events, and I know that many dentists feel particularly hurt by how our profession has been portrayed in some of the more biting commentaries.
On a personal basis, I have wrestled with how to analyze the behavior and place it in proper context. I have also wrestled with what we as a profession can learn and how we can move forward both wiser and stronger. The temptation to label this student behavior as being solely a gender-related issue, and localized to one institution or one profession doesn’t rest comfortably with me.
I have been searching for the proper language framework to describe the actions of the Dalhousie Facebook group, and my reaction to them, and I didn’t feel I had it until I came across the phrase “culture of respect” on a section of the Dalhousie University website. When I saw that term in that context, I felt I could begin to conceive what we in the profession might do to foster an augmented culture of respect among our members, from day one in dental school until retirement from practice.
Almost coincidentally with stumbling upon the “culture of respect” section of the university website, I unearthed from the nether regions of my computer hard drive, the text of a keynote address I delivered at the first White Coat Ceremony that was held at the McGill University Faculty of Dentistry over a decade ago. Reading through the text of the speech I delivered to the new 3rd year students entering the clinics to treat their first patients, I found that same message about a culture of respect (albeit stated in other but similar terms) being a cornerstone of a healthy profession.
What can we learn from Dalhousie’s experience? What can we as a profession do collectively to enhance our culture of respect for the public, patients, team members and colleagues? I would love to hear from you (on a confidential basis) about how you feel about the Dalhousie Facebook group behavior and what lessons you believe we as a profession can learn that will make us more caring, respectful and wiser.
You can contact Dr. John O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org and 1-800-267-6354 ext 5000