Linda Harrison surpasses role of “mother” in the Simulation Lab

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Linda Harrison

A wife and mother of two accomplished daughters, Linda Harrison has earned her bragging rights. She transitioned into a her new career at McGill later in life after starting out as a Dental Assistant and then trained to become a Dental Technician specialising in wax up and gold technician. As the Administrator of the Preclinical Lab, the students affectionately refer to her as “mother” and she says it’s her job to see them rise above and conquer!

What is your role in the Faculty of Dentistry?
My official title is Administrator of the Pre-clinical Lab, a role that entails preparing for all disciplines of labs taking place in the pre-clinic. Part of my role is to prepare the lab to ensure that students and teachers have everything that they need so that their classes go smoothly. The other part of job is to be compassionate and available to students. Every year, January to June is when the 2nd year dental students begin their rigorous training on patient simulators before continuing their education on people for 2 more years. This is a hard, disciplined semester for them so they need some encouragement. I have to be compassionate and yet at the same time instill confidence in them. There is always tears and low self-esteem and it’s my job to see them rise above and conquer!

What are 3 words to describe your role?
The students like to say “mother”, resourceful and takes initiative.

What do you find the most challenging about your position?
The most difficult part of my position is helping the students work together. Our classroom size has now increased from 35 to 40 students a semester. That is 40 different personalities and backgrounds. Encouraging the students to work together benefits them in their future education, endeavours and relationships.

What has been your favourite project with the Faculty?
It was not a project per say but one of my favourite moments of working in the Faculty was during the 2011 strike. I began working at McGill in late 2010 and had little experience at the University. I was thrown in to help out at the MGH dental clinic where they needed extra hands. For four months I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off filling in various positions such as sterilisation, the dispensary, as a dental assistant and ordering supplies to name a few. It was an awaking seeing how all of the different units function, seeing the big picture. We winged it but in the end everyone graduated. I had BIG shoes to fill!!

What is the favourite part about working here?
My job is very rewarding. I like seeing the students every year starting out as “Newbies”; raw and vulnerable and then two and a half years later enthusiastic and ready to start their new careers. It’s great watching their transformation over the years and seeing them grow.

What is your proudest moment with the Faculty?
The graduating class of 2012 voted me as a “Valuable Employee” and I received a plaque at their Graduation Roast.

Top 3 life highlights?
Travelling internationally
Raising 2 daughters that are comfortable in their own skin
Career change later in life and loving it!

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