MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade




MAJOR JOSEPH FRANKLIN: I’m Major Joseph Franklin from Windsor, Ontario, a Dental Officer working at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

CAPTAIN JEANETTE JOHNSON:  And I’m Captain Jeanette Johnson  from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I’m a Dental Officer currently posted to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

FRANKLIN:  In the Canadian Forces, Dental Officers serve our soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel in modern clinics across Canada and on deployments and exercises around the world, focusing on outstanding patient care and continuing education. And there are opportunities not commonly available to our civilian counterparts, including Disaster Victim Identification and humanitarian missions overseas with the U.S. Navy.

FRANKLIN: I know my buddies in private practice are always saying that “This patient, we should do this, but the patient is opting for extraction because of the cost”.

JOHNSON: Well, it feels good when someone comes in with an issue and you tell them what the possible treatment plans are and you can say “This is the best treatment and this is what I think you should have” and you don’t have to go and ask “Well, how much is that going to cost and how long is that going to take”; it’s just “this is the best thing, let’s do it”.

FRANKLIN: Because you’re not afraid to talk about implants, you’re not afraid to talk about bone graft, and you’re not afraid to talk about surgical endodontics, apicoectomy.  You can talk the full story and allow them to make an educated decision.

JOHNSON: Whether it’s at home in a base clinic, in a mobile dental clinic in support of a humanitarian mission, or aboard a Canadian Navy ship mid-ocean, half-way around the world, we work with a team of well-credentialed, well-educated, very motivated professionals.

JOHNSON: Typically in the private practice, you would refer something out to somebody.  I’m lucky here, in that we have a specialist, an advanced general dentist here at our clinic.  Or if I have a procedure that maybe I’m not 100% sure that I’m ready to tackle on my own, we can do it together and there’s no better way to learn than actually seeing it and doing it with somebody who’s experienced and willing to teach.

FRANKLIN: It’s a beautiful environment in terms of, not only are there specialists that are next door to you – it’s to their advantage to help you and mentor you and bring you along, so that your skill levels develop in their areas as well as your own.

JOHNSON:  On base, we see our patients in some of the best-equipped clinics in the country, with state-of-the-art equipment, dedicated professional dental technicians, and support personnel who take care of the administration.

JOHNSON: Whether you’re currently licensed to practice dentistry in Canada, or if you’ve just been accepted to a Canadian faculty of dentistry, serving in the Forces is a uniquely rewarding career path.

JOHNSON: There’s also a part-time option as a member of the Health Services Reserve.

FRANKLIN: If you are truly interested in providing the best care possible without the limitations of finances and things of that nature, the military is the perfect environment.  We’re looking for good dentists.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

FRANKLIN: I’d say the coolest part about being a dentist in the military is travel.  Travels in terms of temporary duty, which are for courses, travel for filling in behind someone who has deployed.  So the opportunity to see different parts of the country, as well as different parts of the world, is unique and great in the military.

JOHNSON: The coolest part of my job, I think, is working on people who have been all over the world, fighting for your country.  You know, they take a lot of pride in that; I get to talk to them about where they’ve been and what they’ve done.  I’ve deployed on a small, humanitarian mission, but to hear the scope of what our other soldiers, our other members of the Canadian Forces are doing, is pretty -- is pretty cool.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

FRANKLIN:  There are two paths to service as a Dental Officer, depending on where you are in your career.

FRANKLIN: If you’re already licensed to practice dentistry in a province or territory of Canada, you may qualify for direct entry. You’ll walk right into an established, state-of-the-art clinic, without having to advertise for patients.

JOHNSON:  If you’re just beginning your studies, or are part-way through, the Dental Officer Training Plan may be a perfect fit for you. The Canadian Forces will pay your full tuition fees and expenses, including textbooks and instruments. Plus, you’ll earn a full salary while you’re in school, in exchange for a four-year commitment after you graduate.

JOHNSON: Like all new officers, Dental Officers start their military careers with basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean, Quebec. Then they move on to Borden, Ontario for the Basic Dental Officer Course – a four-week orientation to the unique facets of practicing dentistry in the Canadian Forces.

JOHNSON: Candidates in the Dental Officer Training Plan do their basic training the summer after their first year at university, and then spend their second and third summers working and training in a clinic on a Canadian Forces base. These officers do their Basic Dental Officer Course following their graduation from Dental School.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

JOHNSON: New Dental Officers are assigned to a base clinic, usually in a large group practice for the first year or two, and then possibly a smaller clinic or even a field unit or Navy ship.

JOHNSON: On base, Dental Officers can usually expect to work normal office hours Monday to Friday, with occasional on-call responsibilities evenings and weekends, to handle emergencies.

FRANKLIN: After three years of service, you’ll be eligible for subsidized education in a variety of specialties including oral surgery, periodontics and prosthodontics, at no cost to you.

FRANKLIN: It’s more than just a culture of continuing education.  It’s a culture of excellence.  I’ve actually just completed Advanced General Dentistry at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  I learned so much and confirmed my knowledge that, I don’t think in private practice, I would have taken the time out to pursue post-grad.  I would have continued with the knowledge base that I learned in university and gone with that.  In terms of where I’m at in my career, I think I’m way ahead of my classmates, to tell you the honest truth, and that’s not to blow my own whistle, but I’m very very proud of the care that I’m able to give.  And that’s because of the support I’ve received from the military.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

JOHNSON: I went for six weeks down to Latin America, and we worked on the local population down there, with a team of dentists from around the world.  Travelling to and from the ship, travelling to and from work every day on a helicopter – well, that’s not something that people get to do every day.  So, you know, you had a little bit of adventure getting to work, and then when you’re at work, you’re doing what you love, so it was a neat experience for me.

FRANKLIN: I’m about to deploy to Afghanistan. It’s an opportunity not just to do dentistry for the soldiers, but to train dentists in Afghanistan; how to improve their skills so that they can provide better care to other soldiers and to the population there.  To me, that’s an excellent opportunity because it’s part of nation building, and for me to be able to do that as a dentist is a tremendous opportunity.