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"Belong": Inclusiveness and diversity in Dentistry

In March 2015, Dalhousie’s strategic initiative on diversity and inclusiveness (Charter 5.2 in the university’s Strategic Direction), released the “Belong” report. The report concluded the first phase in an ongoing process to foster a collegial culture grounded in diversity and inclusiveness at Dalhousie. The “Belong” report makes 15 broad recommendations with specific activities for the university to undertake.

The Faculty of Dentistry is doing our part to help Dalhousie become a more supportive and welcoming community—one in which everyone belongs. In some cases, this means supporting university-wide projects and initiatives. In others, it means taking leadership within our own Faculty community.

Many of the recommendations of the “Belong” report align with work presently underway within the Faculty, while others will be addressed in short order. A selection of these includes:

Learn

"Design a statement of commitment to the value of inclusion to be signed by each student as part of their admissions package or orientation process."

  • Our first-year Dentistry and Dental Hygiene students sign a Student Code of Professional Conduct and swear an Oral Health Professional Oath at their White Coat Ceremony. These documents were prepared by students, for students, in consultation with the Faculty.

"Design and implement a formal, mandatory education program on respect and inclusion for all students at Dalhousie."

  • Beginning in Fall 2015, the Clinical Comprehensive Patient Care courses for third- and fourth-year Dentistry students will include a mandatory public service component.

"Review student orientations to study the design and operation of orientation week events on campus and within faculties and to ensure that they demonstrate respectful inclusion of the wide range of students."

  • Our orientation processes are currently under review and we intend to have a plan in place beginning in Fall 2015.

"Explore the potential of upstander programming to provide additional supports on respect and inclusion."

  • As part of our commitment to ensure a safe environment for reporting of concerns and complaints (formal and informal), our Restorative Justice and Next Steps projects are examining a number of initiatives including clear, transparent reporting processes.

Reflect

"Create welcoming and accessible services and building, including accessible and gender-inclusive washroom facilities, a unified plan for ensuring full physical accessibility including weather accessibility, and champion universal design for learning and work."

  • These are important priorities in the standards for our ongoing Dental Clinic Renewal project.

Support

"Consider ways to enhance respect within faculties and units. Conducting exit interviews and monitoring turn over rates as means of better understanding the pressures within faculties and units and support taking steps to address those issues."

  • Our Dean's Office staff conduct exit interviews with all graduates and compiles an annual report of feedback (anonymous) which is relayed to the appropriate department(s) for review and/or action. All graduating Dentistry students must also complete a curriculum review survey (also anonymous) as a condition of completing their graduation requirements.

Heal

"Enhance counselling services with appropriate resourcing and structures that meet the needs of a diverse community."

  • Resources and referrals are available through the Assistant Dean of Students when students are identified at risk or in crisis.