Day in the life of Blaine AuCoin, assistant clinical professor and associate chair (Student Affairs)

Blaine AuCoin is an assistant clinical professor and associate chair (Student Affairs) for the School of Dentistry.

3 July 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you end up at the School of Dentistry?

I was born and raised here in Edmonton as the youngest of three siblings. I am a proud graduate of St. Francis Xavier High School (go Rams!) and the University of Alberta. I began my dental career in 1989 when Trudy AuCoin and I graduated from the U of A with our DDS degrees in hand and purchased a dental practice right out of school in Hinton. We embarked on a 25-year career owning our own practice and being involved in the community as we raised our family in this small town in the foothills of the Rockies.

Eventually, we decided for family reasons that we would move back to Edmonton. Trudy started at the School of Dentistry in 2009 while still maintaining a private practice in Hinton and I started in 2016 after our practice had sold. We decided to return to the school to pass along our knowledge of practising dentistry in small-town Alberta and to do our small part to improve the learning environment for students.

What does a typical day for you look like?

I wear several different hats at the school, so each day can be a little different.

As one of four comprehensive care directors, I am in the clinic some days mentoring students while they examine and treat patients. This role also involves following each student on Team 3 (13 students in each of DDS III and DDS IV) on their progress in several areas through the clinical part of the program. We review the quality and quantity of their clinical experiences, patient management skills and professionalism.

I am the course director for DDS 530, which is a year-long clinical course for DDS III students. This involves planning and coordination of learning expectations and assessments from all dental disciplines and scheduling clinics and rotations. I am assisted by many others at the school in completing this work.

The other aspect of my position here at the school is my role with Student Affairs, which involves helping students on their journey through their time here. I have the help of student advisors in the DDS and DH programs to aid the students with issues that arise. These can be academic, health-related, personal or family, or financial in nature. We as a team help navigate conflict management as well. I am fortunate to have a great team of student advisors to help in this role.

Outside of work, a typical day would be spent walking in the river valley with Trudy and our super-hyper four-year-old labrador retriever Lola or participating in a different sporting activity.

What are the most interesting parts of your job?

The ability to meet and learn from so many people with different cultures and backgrounds than my own. This could be our students, our patients, or our faculty and staff. In addition, I have had the opportunity to travel with Dentistry for All to Nicaragua and Guatemala, and with Access for All Dentistry to remote communities in the Yukon. I’ve also travelled to Métis communities within Alberta. These experiences are not just about providing oral health care but also learning about and understanding the people we are treating. It might be learning how to “jig” in Cold Lake or listening to the elders speak in Nicaragua telling stories of the past. All these experiences have touched my heart.

What are your hobbies and passions?

I am a sports guy. Playing, officiating and watching are all passions of mine. It would be hard to name a favourite but hockey, tennis, golf and cycling are among them. I have recently embarked on re-learning how to play the violin as I did it up until the age of 13. This time, though, I’m learning more of the fiddle style as opposed to classical violin. It is a work in progress. Another passion is spending time with our first grandchild Tristan, who is 16 months old and is so much fun.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you?

My father was a mechanic by trade so I learned a lot about mechanics while growing up. I have helped my dad restore a few old farm tractors and vehicles over the years. Before he passed away in 2021, he had been working on the restoration of a 1937 Chevrolet pickup truck. He had made significant progress. My plan is to complete this restoration in his memory.