The Mirror, December 2019 The Mirror December 9, Rev Dec 9 - Page 16

GETTING TO BETTER KNOW THE MEMBERS OF THE ACADEMY DR. ANITA GÄRTNER CHAIR, WHISTLER LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE Why did you choose to specialize in Pediatric Dentistry? As an older student in dental school I did not expect to specialize. I was attracted to family dentistry and being involved in a community. In dental school I excelled in prosthodontics and pediatric dentistry. In pediatric dentistry, it was the connection with the child and the management of the situation that was the challenge. After graduation I was accepted into a residency program at BC Children’s Hospital. After the residency, I worked as an associate in general dentistry and in public health dentistry in a school based program. Although I enjoyed working with children, I did not think about specializing in pediatric dentistry until I discovered the program at the University of Washington. I chose this program so that I could return to work in BC and help my family – my sister was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and in dental school my mom was diagnosed with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration – so I needed to be close to home. Where did you do your training? My undergraduate degree was completed at the University of British Columbia. My graduate degree was completed at the University of Washington. What do you enjoy most about your job? It is a thrill to work with kids and an absolute privilege for a parent/caregiver to trust me with their child. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that every morning I wake up that I go to a job that I love. I have a wonderful team that supports each other. What do you find most challenging? As with most things in life there are great days and days that are hard. That might involve a challenging patient, parent/caregiver or staffing situation. I have learned over the years to be more empathetic and look at the bigger picture. It’s hard not to take things personally when a situation is not ideal, so I am learning to be more mindful and accept my own limits. What is the most misunderstood aspect of pediatric dentistry? When I graduated I felt like I had to know all the answers and that a child’s oral health was my responsibility. I saw the world in more black and white absolute terms. Now I gladly tell a parent when I don’t know something and engage them in the decision making process. I am no longer patriarchal – it’s not my responsibility to prevent decay with a larger filling. It’s my responsibility to give choices and listen to a families’ needs.