I am Dr. David Stevenson, President of the Ontario Dental Association and a dentist practicing in Carleton Place, a small but growing town west of Ottawa. I grew up just outside Toronto and was always extremely active outdoors; canoeing, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing as well as training hunting dogs. Living and working in the Ottawa Valley makes it very easy for me to continue enjoying these same activities today while at the same time having a very rewarding career contributing to the health of people in my community. Sharing both my recreational activities and professional responsibilities with fellow members of my community is a tremendously welcoming experience.
How did you decide which initial career to pursue?
I have always been interested in science and medicine. But I have also always been interested in running my own business because I felt I was good at working with people and enjoyed establishing long term relationships. I am also the sort of person who, although I appreciate the rewards of long term projects, also enjoys the satisfaction of seeing the immediate results of my work. Dentistry seemed like a natural fit. Dentistry also presents lots of options of how to enjoy this career be it through solo private practice, group practice, public health, academic research, and even the military.
Where did you receive your education and how did you find this helped you to begin your career?
I entered Dental School at the University of Toronto at the same time I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Dental Corps of the Canadian Military. The military paid for my tuition, supplies, instruments, and also provided me with a salary for living expenses throughout my four years of dental school. During this time my summers were spent training with the military as a Dental Officer. I enjoyed every stage of this training, including the rather strenuous Basic Military Training!
Who provided the most support to you as you were getting started and how did you connect with this person or people?
Without a doubt the people who most supported me when I was getting started were my fellow dentists. I looked for mentors and found many in my own profession who were happy to share their knowledge and experience. These folks were my colleagues, not my competitors. I met them by becoming involved in my community, through study clubs, and most importantly, by joining my professional association, the Ontario Dental Association. All of these connections have been so helpful at every stage of my career and they also have provided me, throughout my 32 years as a dentist, the opportunity to return the favour!
Please briefly outline your career path beginning from when you first started out after graduating, to where you currently are in your career.
Upon graduation from the University of Toronto, in return for paying my way through four years of dental school, I had to fulfill a four year commitment to the Military. I was posted to the Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen in what was then West Germany. This was a tremendous four year experience from all perspectives; as a dentist, as a military officer, and as a Canadian living abroad.
Upon return to Canada, I moved to Carleton Place where my wife (also a dentist) and I purchased a dental practice. After twenty-seven years, my wife retired and we sold our business to a young dentist and it has now become his business. I continue to work as an associate dentist in the very same practice to this day. Although I am no longer a business owner, the clinical practice of dentistry continues to interest me. As well, I have always been fairly active in my professional association and I am currently the President of the Ontario Dental Association. Dentistry can be rewarding in so many ways!
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
This is simple to answer. Shortly after graduation, a fellow dentist told me if I was kind and fair to my patients, and always considered their good health to be the most important thing, my career would be extremely rewarding professionally, personally, and financially. He was right!