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Jillian Bishop receives the 2024 Dr. D. S. Precious Gold Medal in Dentistry

Posted by Cheryl Bell on May 30, 2024 in News
A proud day for Jillian Bishop, Dr. D. S. Precious Gold Medal in Dentistry winner (Bruce Bottomley photo)

It was a memorable moment. Jillian Bishop had returned from a visit to Dean Village in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she was on holiday, when she received a call from the dean of the Faculty of Dentistry. Dr. Ben Davis was phoning to let her know that she was the winner of the 2024 Dr. D. S. Precious Gold Medal in Dentistry.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Davis had emailed her to ask if he could call her. Jillian says she remembered reading articles about how the dean telephoned previous gold medal winners but thought there was no way it could be her. "It must be about something else," she thought. "Maybe I failed. You never know."
But it was good news. "I remember asking him 'Are you sure?'" says Jillian. "And then I managed to thank him for the call. It really meant a lot to hear the news from him, especially by phone."
As for receiving the award, "It means everything to me," says Jillian. She explains that during dental school she "focused a lot on the clinical aspects of dentistry rather than scoring 100% on a test. It was really rewarding to have my hard work pay off."

Jillian was in Scotland when she heard the news. (photo contributed)

Learning to love dentistry
Back in high school, Jillian was always interested in science-based classes. Then in grade 11, the whole class had to take a career quiz. Jillian’s top three career options from that quiz were paramedic, doctor, and dentist. "My family always makes fun of my sense of direction, so a paramedic was automatically out of the question," laughs Jillian. But she considered both medical and dental school as potential next steps.
Several things about dentistry appealed to her, however, and Jillian applied to be part of a co-op program at school. The program enabled her to shadow dentists at her family dental practice in Quispamsis, NB – Bailey Buckley Family Dentistry – which she loved. After the shadowing period was over, Jillian was offered a job for the summer and every summer after that. "They’ve been amazing mentors for me over the last eight years," says Jillian.
Jillian says the favourite part of shadowing was seeing how all the staff members in the practice enjoyed seeing their patients every six months and developed personal connections with them. "When you build relationships and trust, it really goes a long way to making patients comfortable," she says.
From Mount Allison to Dalhousie
After high school, Jillian went to Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, to study biology. She graduated in 2020 and started dental school the same year. It was the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, so there were many restrictions, but Jillian feels lucky that her class was able to have some in-person labs, which gave them "a little bit of social communication." She thinks the experience brought them together as a class.
Jillian seized many opportunities to be involved in a range of activities during dental school, including Let’s Talk Science and Happy Teeth, an oral health education program she and her classmate Mo Alabdoulsalam devised between them. She was also involved in a lot of fundraising activities with her class, including a turkey drive for Feed Nova Scotia at Christmas.
Jillian says she loved her small group practice group, which was supervised by Dr. Clare Champoux, and the public health elective, taught by Dr. Ferne Kraglund. "It’s a really rewarding feeling to be the one to tell a patient that we’re going to look after your oral health for you and get you back to a state of health," she says.

The next step
Right now, Jillian is looking forward to settling into the practice where she spent so many summers. She is also keen to keep learning. "What I like about dentistry is that there is always the opportunity to learn new skills and build on the ones you already have," she says. "We leave dental school with a great foundation in everything, but we’re by no means experts in anything."
Jillian feels honoured to win the prestigious Dr. D. S. Precious Gold Medal in Dentistry. She is also grateful to her family, friends, instructors, and co-workers for helping her through all the challenges and believing in her over the years. Special thanks, however, go to Drs. Champoux and Kraglund and everyone at Bailey Buckley Family Dentistry. "They are some of my biggest role models and I hope I can be like them some day in practice."

Jillian Bishop graduated with distinction and as the recipient of the CFAO Award for Achievement in Undergraduate Orthodontics, the Dr. Bill MacInnis Scholarship for commitment to the ethical practice of dentistry, and the Dr. Frank Woodbury Memorial Prize for the highest academic standing.