100 Years of ADEA: Dr. Marcia Boyd


Marcia Boyd, CM, D.D.S., M.A., L.H.D.(Hon.), D.Sc.(Hon.), L.L.D.(Hon.), FACD

Professor Emerita and Former Dean
University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry
Senior Associate
ROI Corporation

Even during her early days as a young dentist, Dr. Marcia Boyd was making her mark in the profession, working with the underserved in the remote stretches of Canada and young elementary school children before joining the University of British Columbia faculty. Decades later, Dr. Boyd would be appointed to the Order of Canada, the highest honor awarded to Canadian citizens for a lifetime of outstanding achievement, for her contributions to the profession of dentistry. In her Q&A, Dr. Boyd shares her perspective on advancement of women in the profession, the importance of mentorship and giving back to communities, and what she hopes for ADEA’s future.

Q. Before entering academia, you began your career administering dentistry to the underserved—from Inuit populations in their Eastern Arctic region to offering treatment and preventive work to elementary school students. Do you think younger generations of dentists should explore similar opportunities early in their careers? How did it benefit you as a practitioner and/or educator?

As a new graduate, it is exciting to undertake different challenges before making a final decision about your future dental career and assuming that life-long decision and commitment. In my situation, the opportunity to provide treatment to the Inuit population in the Canadian Eastern Arctic was an unexpected and true delight. I had accepted the challenge to “go anywhere in Canada,” not thinking about the Arctic, but it was truly an amazing experience. To visit and engage with the members of the communities who had never seen a dentist before or understood effective dental prevention, it was a unique chance to go “MAD”: Make A Difference! I learned so much about patient interaction and effective communication, as well as the need for TLC in delivering care … certainly a priceless experience! And, of course, it affected the rest of my career. My focus became more directed to public health initiatives and the positive impact of education, which was then applied to my time with the City of Vancouver treating 3- to 5-year-olds and conducting preventive programs in elementary schools. I was “noticed” and asked to join University of British Columbia as a full-time faculty member. I believe I was gifted with a natural inclination toward and love of teaching and was always striving for excellence, so I undertook a master’s degree in Education with a major in Curriculum and Evaluation.

These experiences proved to be a solid foundation for my long and varied career. They really took off “the blinders” of what was generally expected of dental graduates, particularly women, and rather than having “tunnel vision” or even “funnel vision”, it provided profound peripheral thinking.

I certainly do believe new graduates should seriously consider unique options upon graduation to “think out of the box“ and take on a challenge that is different while they are still independent and have that opportunity to explore and learn in an entirely different environment. And the reward is that you are paying back and helping others who benefit from your knowledge and skill. It is very heartwarming and meaningful.

Q. You were the founding President of the Educational Research Group (EGR) of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). How does a group like this help ease the way for innovations in dental education?

At the time that the IADR Educational Research Group, ERG, was founded, it became an opportunity to recognize the contribution of educational research, and its application to dental education. Until that time, other research—which was primarily either laboratory or clinically based—had the profession’s support and recognition. The ERG became a chance to undertake science-based studies with sound methodology and analysis of outcomes related to various educational approaches that could then be applied for the betterment and advancement of dental education. And the ADEA Journal of Dental Education provided a peer-reviewed opportunity for reviewing, respecting, publishing and sharing such research for the benefit of all.

Over the years the ERG has grown to now enjoy a solid foundation and place in the research community. It was a timely move and I compliment the IADR for understanding the importance of educational research and for translating that vision into reality and the support of the ADEA Journal of Dental Education.

Q. At ADEA, you've served as Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee and the International Women’s Leadership Program Committee. How have you seen the role of women in dental education leadership change over time? What impact, if any, has it had on dental education?

When I began my career in dentistry, of course I was in the minority in a male-dominated profession. It was the last century! Fortunately, I was given opportunities as a female as there was a focus on inclusion at that point, at least for the optics of having a woman involved and participating in committee structure and work. I never said “NO” and always strived very hard to be sure that my gender was well represented and respected to help ensure our future participation and potential contributions.

ADEA stepped up under the outstanding leadership and influence of Dr. Jeanne Sinkford, a true pioneer in our profession. She assumed the leadership role in ADEA, creating focus on the International Women’s Leadership Program and the Women’s Advisory Committee. I was honored to be a part of both groups, and to be able to contribute to the advancement of various innovative programs and initiatives.

Women are more represented today, however, perhaps not as much as they might otherwise be, since they have a variety of roles to play in society that occur at a certain age, including motherhood. These factors do impact their ability to meet certain criteria related to reward and advancement within academia. But certainly, I know that women are very hard working and giving and there are some definite “super women” out there who are constantly aspiring to break “the glass ceiling”. My hope is the pipeline will continue to be filled with willing, talented, intelligent women who want to dedicate themselves to the ongoing growth and exceptional leadership in all aspects of our profession—be it in practice, teaching, academia or organized dentistry.

Q. In 2014, you were appointed to the Order of Canada, the highest honor awarded to Canadian citizens for a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation, honoring people in all sectors of Canadian society. You received it for your contributions to the field of dentistry and for your stewardship of the profession. What do you see as your biggest contribution to the profession?

Having enjoyed and been blessed with such a diverse career, that is a difficult question! Like others, I had just taken on challenges and opportunities when they were presented, not thinking at all about any return or recognition for such efforts. When one is promoted and recognized by their peers, it doesn’t get any better than that in one’s career! It is certainly an amazing honor and the kindness, in both thought and deed, of my colleagues is so much appreciated. I treasure them … and it is my privilege to wear my Order of Canada “Snowflake” pin with tremendous pride, every day!

Effective contributions? Well, I believe some of my efforts have come through the advancement of reliable and valid competency-based evaluation—be it at the faculty/teaching level or in partnership with The National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) for certification and licensure in Canada. It was a steady evolution that I was pleased to be involved with and publish studies whose application has had a meaningful outcome for our profession, not only in Canada but also at large to maintain competency within the profession and provide respect for our patient population.

In addition, I have always reached out to mentor students and young colleagues. It has been a passion of mine. Having dedicated myself to that and to teaching has meant I have touched many individuals’ lives and careers and have consistently aimed to impact them positively through being an exemplary role model for both ethics and professionalism by “doing the right thing”. I encourage involvement in organized dentistry and undertaking leadership programs so they can contribute to the advancement of our beloved profession and to their community, even beyond quality patient care. This is a wonderful, comforting legacy for me.

Q. How do you hope ADEA continues to evolve as an organization into the next 100 years?

I hope, and certainly expect, that ADEA will continue to grow as an iconic, strong organization which will sustain its pursuit of the advancement of dental education in the areas of teaching, research, health care and leadership while recognizing and actively embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. Looking back on the history of this organization, that has been one of its strengths, and ADEA will continue in those efforts and become even more powerful under the leadership and vision of my enthusiastic, young, dedicated colleagues.