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Kathy Russell, professor

A day in the life

Kathy Russell, professor

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I love my job. Working in a team is exciting, and it’s an educational environment for me, too—I’m always learning, by being around other health-care professionals.

Cleft palate care and research


Dr. Kathy Russell is one of many Faculty of Dentistry alumni who have returned to Dalhousie as a professor. And she’s also head of the Division of Orthodontics in the Department of Dental Clinical Sciences.

After completing the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program at Dal, she did a one-year residency in paediatric dentistry at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital, and then a Diploma in Orthodontics and a Master of Science (MSc) specializing in cleft lip and palate, both at the University of Toronto.

In addition to teaching and co-ordinating the orthodontic curriculum in the Faculty of Dentistry, Dr. Russell also provides patient care and teaches students at the IWK, as an orthodontist and as chair of the Cleft Palate Team. “Cleft palate care is team based,” she explains. “I work with surgeons, dentists, a speech-language pathologist, and other professionals.”

Dr. Russell spends Thursdays at the IWK Cleft Palate Clinic with various Dental students on their rotations. “Patients have the opportunity to see various professionals—as many as 10 in one day. The students observe the interaction, whether it’s with me, the paediatric dentist, or other health-care providers,” Dr. Russell explains. “The rotation gives students a much broader experience.”

Dr. Russell is also a member of the Americleft Research Group. “I’m excited! We’ve co-authored a five-part study that has been published in the American Cleft Palate Journal,” she says. “It’s the first multicenter cleft palate study done in North America.”

She also maintains a one-day-a-week private orthodontic practice in the Halifax area. The best part of her job, she says, is that “It allows me to do a wide range of activities and work with many different people.”

And the kids who come to the Cleft Palate Clinic make her job extra special, too. “I get to know them, following them as they grow. I’ve known one patient for 19 years—he’s going to Germany on a university tennis scholarship,” she says with a note of almost parental pride.

Dr. Russell is also proud of Dal’s Faculty of Dentistry: “We have a really strong clinical program,” she adds. “We have very dedicated profs who care about the quality of the students who graduate and then call themselves Dalhousie University Dentistry Grads.”