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Next Steps Committee: Key Initiatives

The Next Steps Committee is a Faculty-led initiative comprised of Dalhousie Dentistry faculty and staff. The committee’s mandate is to create and sustain positive cultural change within the Faculty community and foster a working and learning environment in which every student and faculty and staff member feels safe, included, and respected.

In line with recommendations contained in the Restorative Justice Report, the Report of the External Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia, and the Belong Report, the committee has created action plans to strengthen the Faculty’s culture, policies, and curriculum around professionalism, diversity, and inclusiveness.

Next steps are now underway on key initiatives under several headings:

Supportive and respectful environment

Building and maintaining a supportive dentistry community among students, staff, and faculty is vital for creating a professional and respectful working environment in which everyone feels a part, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Recent achievements and planned initiatives for 2015-16 include:

  • A Women in Dentistry Circle was introduced in Spring 2015. This was an opportunity to bring together female oral health professionals and students to discuss topics and scenarios the students may experience in the working world. This will continue in 2015-16.
  • Additional family-focused student social events during Orientation week and throughout the year.
  • Upcoming faculty and staff development opportunities, including sessions on appropriate language and behaviour.
  • Accessible and gender inclusive washrooms will be part of the clinic renewal project.

Diversity and inclusion

Faculty, staff, and student leaders from dentistry and dental hygiene are working together to strengthen their relationship and build a more inclusive community. Steps are also being taken to welcome and involve all international students in the academic and social life of the Faculty. Recent achievements and planned initiatives for 2015-16 include:

  • Qualifying Program students will be integrated among clinical clusters in Fall 2015 to allow all students to share their unique knowledge and experience.
  • An International Day will be coordinated in 2015-16, to help the dentistry community appreciate the different cultures of their faculty, staff, and students.
  • An Assistant Dean of Students for dental hygiene will be appointed in Fall 2015.
  • Continuing to build on inter-professional learning modules with dentistry and dental hygiene faculty, staff and students.

Professionalism and ethics

The Faculty is taking steps to improve the effectiveness of ethics and professionalism education by making courses more central to the curriculum and integrating learning on these subjects with other courses. Recent achievements and planned initiatives for 2015-16 include:

  • The Student Oath and Codes of Conduct are currently being reviewed and will incorporate student input.
  • Regular professionalism and ethics seminars and lectures will include guidance on the appropriate use of social media. Interactive professionalism sessions will be held with all students in Fall 2015.
  • The timing of modules on ethics and professionalism in the curriculum is currently being reviewed.

Curriculum and program structure

A professional and collegial approach to patient care is an important model for students to have. Steps are being taken to reduce competition, stress, and the perception of inequality between students while maintaining excellence in teaching and patient care. Recent achievements and planned initiatives for 2015-16 include:

  • Scheduling time in the curriculum and increased administrative support will allow students and their faculty advisors to meet monthly. This will facilitate the distribution of patients to ensure timely patient care, while meeting the needs of students to gain clinical skills.
  • Guidelines for student evaluation will be reviewed with all clinical instructors as part of orientation, and monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure fair and equitable implementation.
  • Stress management skills sessions will be coordinated for faculty, staff and students.

Reporting processes and conflict resolution

To support the Faculty’s community-building efforts and create processes for resolving any situations that arise, current policies will be reviewed and updated and clear channels put in place to help faculty, staff, and students report problems and address concerns. Recent achievements and planned initiatives for 2015-16 include:

  • The Faculty website will be updated to provide clear links for reporting concerns and complaints. The updates will also ensure that faculty, staff, and students can easily find the resources and supports they may need.
  • Conflict resolution training will be made available to all staff, faculty, and students.
  • The academic and clinic policy manuals are being reviewed and updated.


The Next Steps Committee will continue to work on the recommendations contained in the Restorative Justice Report, Report of the External Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia, and the Belong Report. It will also continue to identify engagement strategies and resources required to move them forward.

We welcome your ideas, thoughts and/or concerns. Please contact the Next Steps Committee at communications.dentistry@dal.ca