Developing well-rounded citizens helps dentist win national teaching award

His commitment to society helped Steve Patterson earn the 2013 Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry (ACFD) Bisco National Dental Teaching Award.

FoMD Staff - 28 March 2013

Steve PattersonWhen small-town dentist Steve Patterson wasn't shuttling one of his six kids to sports practice, piano lessons, or dance recitals, he was in Edmonton working hard to teach dental students to be more than just dentists, but well-rounded citizens.

"Steve works incredibly hard to ensure that we are graduating "well-rounded" dentists, who are not just academically strong and clinically competent, but also professionally responsible and socially aware," says colleague Anthea Senior, clinical assistant professor, radiology.

That commitment to society has helped earn Steve Patterson, associate chair of academic affairs, at the U of A School of Dentistry the 2013 Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry (ACFD) Bisco National Dental Teaching Award.

This award is presented annually to an outstanding teacher at a Canadian dental school.

"Dr. Patterson is one of those professors who inspires his students to be passionate about their field, and want to better their society," says Linda Lan, a member of the class of 2015 and one of the many future dentists Patterson has helped train. Students consistently identify Patterson as one of the best teachers in the School of Dentistry.

Patterson, an alumnus of the University of Alberta, started his career as a general dentist in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and later followed his passions into the practice of dental public health and teaching.

He is the father of six children and the oldest of four brothers, who are alumni of the University of Alberta as well. His father was a university professor and dean of education at the University of Alberta and Brigham Young University, and was instrumental in shaping Patterson's vision of teaching and learning.

Patterson's passion for teaching now extends through the eyes of his children, students and colleagues. "My father has been a powerful example for me," says his daughter, Melanie. "Not only does he teach me to be a better person, but he helped me to understand the value and importance of education, which gave me a desire to seek out and complete my own higher educational goals."

In 1994, Patterson began teaching undergraduate students in the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Dental Hygiene (DH) and Doctor of Medicine (MD) programs at the U of A. During this time he discovered his true passion for teaching, and formalized his teaching philosophy, which had been years in the making. This philosophy now guides everything he does related to teaching.

"I made a conscious choice to be a teacher early in my professional career," says Patterson. "I wanted to make an impact on the lives of students and future colleagues."

"I consider Dr. Patterson one of the best educators in Canada and highly deserving of this award from his peers," says Paul Major, professor and chair, School of Dentistry and senior associate dean, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "He is an innovative and visionary education scholar who has made a major impact at the University of Alberta and beyond."

Patterson will be presented with the award at the 2013 ACFD Biennial Conference on June 17, 2013, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.