Natashia Bose-Roberts looks towards her future as a dentist

April 2015

Tasha(1)Natashia Bose-Roberts is the type of student that tends to fly under the radar despite her strong academic and extracurricular showings. Growing up between Kelowna, BC and Grenville-sur-la-rouge, QC she has been volunteering her time, energy and skills for as long as she can remember. An avid traveller, she took a year off before starting her undergraduate at UBC in Microbiology to backpack through Europe and work in Switzerland. After completing her BSc she decided to take another year off, this time travelling and volunteering with a local AIDS organisation in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. A recently published author, she sat down with me to talk to me about her four years at McGill.

Why did you choose dentistry? Why McGill?

I always knew that I wanted to be in healthcare. When I was in Uganda working with local doctors and nurses, I didn’t like the feeling of helplessness we had when dealing with complex medical issues afflicting HIV positive patients. As a dentist, you have the ability to fix oral disease in a tangible, hands-on way. As I am a results driven person, the idea of having a direct effect on my patients overall health and well-being appealed to me. This was really important for me and led me to apply to dentistry.

McGill was a natural choice as the Faculty of Dentistry is renowned not only for academics but its’ outreach programs. McGill offers a unique experience for dental students to be involved in outreach activities from first year to graduation. As I intend to continue working with underserved populations, I knew this experience would be invaluable to me.

Volunteering and giving back to your community is obviously something you believe in. Why is this so important to you?

My mother is a social worker who completed her PhD in disability studies. Growing up she was always encouraging my brother and I to look beyond societal norms and to help people in need. Volunteering has been a passion of mine since I was young. If we all offer help to those whom are unable to help themselves, collectively we could make a huge impact.

You are the fourth year student representative for the Student Community Initiatives Committee (SCIC). How were you selected for this role?

I was selected for this role by Dr. Frances Power because not only was I heavily involved with student initiatives but I really believed in the SCIC mandate. Dr. Power and I had worked closely together on outreach initiatives and during my time as Student Coordinator for the McGill Inter-professional Global Health course. The SCIC role requires a student who is actively involved with student initiatives and has a finger on the pulse of what is going on within the Faculty. After personally organizing some of outreach events without much guidance, it was clear that an official committee was necessary to guide students interested in creating new outreach initiatives or organizing one of our existing, very successful events such as the recent outreach gala.

Has being on the SCIC changed your perceptions of volunteerism?

Having Dr. Power as a mentor and being part of the SCIC has taught me the importance of understanding the needs of the population with whom you are volunteering. It is so easy to adopt a paternalistic role without intending to. Without doing the research and determining the actual needs of the population you are working with, you are at risk of doing harm rather than good!

Has anybody in the Faculty been instrumental in helping you through the past four years? Who and why?

We are so fortunate at McGill to have such great instructors, it is really hard to narrow it down!! I will be forever grateful to Dr. Benhamou and the Kindness in Action team. The experience I gained from the trip to Mexico in 2014, providing free dental care to the people of the Yucatan Peninsula, was invaluable. Working hand-in-hand with such experienced clinicians to help a population truly in need is something I will never forget.

I would also l like to mention two people who have really been supportive throughout the last few years, Dr. Frances Power and Dr. Sam Malkinson.

These two instructors are dedicated to teaching, and truly care about their students’ success. Dr. Power is constantly challenging our views of our responsibilities to our community and emboldening us to give back. Dr. Malkinson’s passion for his profession and promoting the best possible care for our patients without ever compromising on standards of care makes his students want to be better clinicians.
I am so grateful for the support and encouragement these faculty members and so many others have offered me throughout dental school. I truly believe I will be a better clinician because of all of their positive influences the last four years.

How have you managed your time between school and extracurricular activities?

Balance is the most important thing to me, and in order to achieve that I have relied on great time management… It also doesn’t hurt that I am a morning person and much of my schoolwork gets done in the early morning hours!

Now that you are almost finished school, what are your plans for the future?

In July 2015 I will start a General Practice Residency at the Jewish General Hospital. Upon completion I hope to satisfy my travel bug and backpack for a few months in India or Southeast Asia. I will most likely return home to Kelowna, BC to work as an Associate, but if the right opportunity arises in Montreal, I may be swayed to stay!! I hope to work as an Associate and eventually become owner of a practice. Specializing is not in my near future, but who knows what the future holds!

What does success mean to you both in and out of the classroom?

Success is always trying your best in every situation and striving to have balance in your life. I’ve always had a work hard, play hard attitude. If you can give your best effort during your work life, you’ll feel great and not stress about taking time for your private life.

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