We’re shining the spotlight on Ethel MacPherson, Dental Assistant at Antigonish Family Dentistry in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Ethel tells us about her nearly four-decade career in the industry, witnessing positive patient transformations and the importance of thinking outside of the box.
Tell us about your background — why did you choose this career, and how long have you been with Antigonish Family Dentistry?
At the age of 19, I began working for a friend and colleague of the family my mother worked for, Dr. Mary Foley. A few years later, Dr. Foley suggested I become certified, so I enrolled in a Dental Assisting program. After graduating, I worked for Dr. Foley for 17 years. Dr. Wotton took over the practice in 1988, and the practice partnered with dentalcorp in 2014. I have now been with the practice for 39 years and have experienced many changes, including the growth of the team to three dentists, five dental assistants, and seven hygienists.
What do you enjoy most about being a dental assistant?
I enjoy full mouth reconstruction and witnessing transformations, especially when it's something patients have struggled to achieve for years. It is an incredibly satisfying experience to see them smile with confidence.
What skills are essential to being successful as a dental assistant within the dentalcorp network?
Having compassion, being a good listener, showing up on time every day, and being reliable, alongside staying organized and professional. I like to be one step ahead. I think it's important to think outside the box and be prepared for new opportunities.
What’s a little-known fact about dentistry that most people would be surprised to learn?
Tooth enamel is the hardest part of the human body, even more so than bone.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received, and what advice would you offer those thinking about joining the industry?
Don't jump at the first opportunity that presents itself. Visit the practice, meet the dentist and team, and ask to job shadow before accepting the position to ensure it’s the right fit.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
I enjoy taking care of dogs and stray cats, and I have been grooming dogs for quite a few years. I also enjoy spending time at our family cottage with my two grandchildren. We love swimming, sea-dooing, boating, and finishing our days with a bbq. Oh, and a few trips south each year help me rejuvenate and rest up for long winters!