Disciplined Dalhousie students finding dentistry work: lawyer

Ottawa lawyer hired by Dalhousie would not say how many of the 13 students found work in their field upon graduation

(Darren Pittman/CP)

(Darren Pittman/CP)

HALIFAX – A lawyer for Dalhousie University says many of the dentistry students disciplined for participating in a misogynistic Facebook group are now employed as dentists.

Sally Gomery, an Ottawa lawyer hired by Dalhousie to give it legal advice on the Facebook posts, would not say how many of the 13 male students found work in their field upon graduation.

“The university has been advised that many members of the Facebook Group have secured employment as dentists, which would require licensure,” Gomery said in an email.

“To date only one licensing board has contacted Dalhousie for information about a student who belonged to the Facebook Group,” she said.

Gomery said she would not comment further because of the university’s obligation to protect the privacy of its students.

Following a complaint from a female student, Dalhousie announced in January it had suspended the clinic privileges of 13 male students who were identified as members of a Facebook group featuring sexist and sexually violent posts.

When the suspensions were announced, the registrar of the licensing body that governs Ontario’s dentists said he wanted the names of the students involved.

Irwin Fefergrad of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario said the governing body wanted to make sure that if the disciplined students applied for licences they would face tough questions from the college.

That request was rejected by Dalhousie on privacy grounds.

But as a direct result of the Dalhousie incident, the Ontario regulator added a new question to its licensing application, Fefergrad said in an interview Tuesday.

He said the form now asks applicants if they were ever the subject of a complaint, inquiry or investigation at a post-secondary institution.

“We feel that it’s an important question to ask of anybody. So we learned something out of the Dal situation,” said Fefergrad.

“Just because somebody has had an experience in the dental school, it doesn’t automatically dis-entitle that person from registration. What it does is it triggers our obligation to make inquiries as to their suitability to practice and under what circumstances.”

Fefergrad would not say whether his organization has contacted the university for further information on any applicants.

The Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia also announced policy changes in response to the Dalhousie situation.

“The Board is moving to strengthen its licensure review process by requiring all applicants to disclose any disciplinary proceedings or complaints made against them during their university education,” the organization said in a statement in March.

When asked this week if the board had contacted Dalhousie to find out if any licence applicants were involved in the Facebook group, chairman Tom Raddall said privacy laws prevent the disclosure of details from specific applications.

Follow @tim_callanan on Twitter.

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