Graduate student speaks the language of orthodontics

Dr. Gaston Coutsiers Morell, MSc Orthodontics '20

Jessalyn King - 31 July 2020

Born in Argentina and raised in Spain, Dr. Gaston Coutsiers Morell completed his DDS in Spain. His father is a dentist working in Madrid. "One of the things that I really liked about my dad's job is that he was in a health career, but he was also an independent worker. He was his own boss."

Coutsiers Morell studied dentistry in Portugal, France, Belgium and in Canada, in four different languages, and would be able to practice in all four. He says, "I am still improving my English. When I landed in Edmonton, the longest I had been in an English-speaking country was one week."

Dr. Carlos Flores-Mir, Orthodontic Graduate Program Director, says, "It's been an awesome journey for Gaston because of his English. He took it quite well when people laughed or corrected him. It could have been a stressful scenario, but he would say, 'Oh! Thank you!' so he made it good."

After his DDS, he worked around Spain, then moved to Belgium. He eventually took a Master's program part-time in Lille, France. Again, he arrived with only a basic knowledge of French. He says, "I had discovered that I could do it when I learned Portuguese, so I did it again."

During his program here, he did a trial measuring the volume of teeth before and after treatment (since teeth are known to shorten in length through orthodontic treatment). But the interesting thing for Coutsiers Morell, he says, is that research is encouraged for students here. "In Europe, we focus more on just memorizing the basics. But I am happy to share my research and my experience to increase the school's reputation because I thinks it is important to give back."

He credits his success in the program to the instructors, Drs. Paul Major, Tarek El-Bialy, Carlos Flores-Mir, and Manuel Lagravère. "These people are magic in different ways," he says. “They push the students to be independent and to find their own path."

Flores-Mir says, "Gaston is a joy to have around. He's high-energy and he's a person who keeps people relaxed because he takes them out of their comfort zone. At the same time, he's never crossed a line."

Coutsiers Morell took up curling and learned to skate so he could play hockey. He says, “I wanted to develop a cultural connection with this beautiful country with these beautiful people."

During the pandemic, Coutsiers Morell says everyone always checked in with him. "Dr. Flores would call me once per week to see how I'm doing. I felt safe here in Canada!"

He says that while there were challenges for him studying here, he didn't feel the brunt of them because of the support from everyone around him.

Coutsiers Morell is unsure about where he'll go next. "But I don't want any new countries!" he jokes.

He says of the program, "I wish I could experience it again and again! Orthodontics ended up being another language that I learned."