Empathetic periodontic graduate excited to put his skills to work

Dr. Dongdong Fang, MSc Periodontics '20

Jessalyn King - 31 July 2020

Dr. Dongdong Fang has had quite an academic and worldly journey to get to where he is today, and that breadth of experience benefits his patients.

Drs. Monica Gibson and Douglas Dederich, Co-Directors Graduate Periodontics, agreed Fang was a kind and gentle person, with much compassion and willingness to help others. Gibson says, "His passion shone through in the way he took his pictures and presented his cases. He was 100 percent committed to doing what he does."

Having practiced dentistry in China for 5 years, Fang completed his Masters of Periodontics in China before coming to Canada. He completed a Ph.D. in dentistry at McGill in craniofacial science with a research study about salivary gland regeneration post-radiotherapy.

When he applied for the Master's program here, he planned to stay in academia. He has since shifted his plan to work in private practice. "I really enjoyed teaching the undergrad students. I also learned from them, so it's a mutual relationship! So whenever the chance for me to teach comes up, I would be there!"

Because of his variety of training, Fang has the benefit of perspective. "We are more evidence-based at the U of A," says Fang. "Here, we have excellent systems to show your patient is taking their medication, and what medical issues, if any, they have, and that we are in communication with their physicians. This isn't the same everywhere."

Dederich says, "Dongdong is empathetic towards his patients, which is a good trait to have. It's great to go to work every day, be compassionate and find meaning in what you do."

Since there are only three students selected for this graduate program each year, Fang says he was pretty lucky he had such great year-mates. "We helped each other all the time, and we studied and chilled together. We just enjoyed each others' company. I will miss them so much after graduation."

Being a member of the first graduating class of any program comes with its own set of challenges. Fang elaborates, "In the beginning, this program was like a newborn baby. But it keeps getting better and better, and we've done a lot of procedures. I am confident in my skills and being able to provide the right treatment once I graduate."

Dederich says, "Dongdong and his classmates were the pioneers. They took risks, experienced struggles, and earned their memories. They all went through the process of continual change and survived as competent periodontic practitioners. They will succeed in their professional lives!"

Fang's family joined him in Montreal for a year of his program. After his daughter was born, his wife brought the children back to China for family support. During the second year of this program, Fang was able to bring them to Edmonton.

Fang is most excited about getting a salary to support his family. "It's been seven years that I've been in school," he says. "So finally, I hope to get a job and let them enjoy life."