Ferne Kraglund, assistant professor

A day in the life

Ferne Kraglund, assistant professor

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All students should understand the many barriers to dental care. We need to instil in them the desire to give back to the community. And the response indicates they’re more than willing to do so.

Improving access to care

After completing a Master of Science (MSc) in Dental Public Health, Dr. Ferne Kraglund is back at Dal teaching. “Public health isn’t something most dentists go into,” she says. “People have frequently asked, ‘Why would you go into the only dental specialty where you end up making less money?”

Dr. Kraglund has also worked in private dental practice for the last seven years. “One of my frustrations is that dentistry is oftentimes thought to be a business and isn’t considered under the larger umbrella of health care,” she says. “But to me, the appeal of public health is that you’re doing something for a larger, and quite often marginalized, population.”

“Sure, it’s great to hold a drill in your hand and fix teeth,” she continues, “but it’s also great to have someone say ‘This is the first time I’ve been in a chair for seven years,’ knowing you’re going to provide that person with care they don’t normally receive. Prevention is a big part of it,” she adds. “I’d like to help change the mindset of dentistry.”

For one of the outreach clinics Dr. Kraglund organized, she asked for 20 student volunteers. Twice that many came forward. “It was hard to turn students away—they were really disappointed they couldn’t help. But the response was overwhelming, which made me feel really good. My challenge now is to find other avenues for students to give back.”

“I’m the odd duck in Dentistry,” Dr. Kraglund says with a smile. “I’m trying to deal with the more global issues. But the Faculty is incredibly supportive—you suggest something and the Faculty tries to find a way to get it done.”

“It’s very gratifying to get up every morning,” she adds. “I tell my students, it’s not the people you treat in your private practice you have to worry about—they’ll be well taken care of. It’s all the others you need to worry about.”