Focus on Faculty: Dr. Christine Quinn

Posted on: Saturday, 05/02/2020

Dean Krebsbach: How long have you worked at the dental school and what is your role as an educator? As a provider of care?

Dr. Christine Quinn (pictured at top right): I have been working at the UCLA School of Dentistry since 1989 – if you do the math it makes me old… so, 31 years this July.

I have a hybrid role. I love what I do as both an educator and a provider of care. I still remember what it felt like to be a dental student, and I hope that I am able to bring that empathy to my didactic teaching. As for patient care, I enjoy my specialty because I am able to help patients who have had difficulty accessing quality dental care prior to coming to UCLA. I was very fortunate that I was able to help establish our residency program in Dental Anesthesiology, which unfortunately had to close in 2018. In my opinion, our program at UCLA was one of the very best. We have graduated top notch clinicians and educators. Now, with no postdoctoral program at UCLA, I try to keep students who are interested in dental anesthesiology engaged in the specialty.

Dean Krebsbach: Obviously, the physical environment for teaching has evolved in the last few years, especially in the last month. What challenges are you facing? What positive progress have you seen?

Dr. Quinn: I think the didactics that I teach at UCLA lend themselves well to being prerecorded. However, selfishly, I really enjoy seeing the dental students who attend class. It gives me a chance to interact, see how they are doing, or sing happy birthday if it happens to be someone’s special day. I find it harder to tell my stories in a recorded lecture – you just don’t get the same feedback were you to be in person. However, despite our current narrowed teaching parameters, I feel that this change has opened doors to allow for more creativity in delivering curriculum.

Dean Krebsbach: What do you hope that this pandemic experience teaches students? Faculty? Academic leaders?

Dr. Quinn: I think this pandemic will teach us all how we can pull together and solve problems. It has been quite remarkable seeing the efforts of all of our community during these difficult times. Dental school is hard enough, let alone having to experience it remotely. As dentists and dental students, we want to connect with people and the pandemic – for the moment – has taken that away from us. I look forward to the day that we can come back together.

Dean Krebsbach: What was your mentality going into the recent remote learning conversion?

Dr. Quinn: I understood that everything was going to change. I was not worried about the remote didactics but rather how was I going to be able to attest to the clinical competency of the graduating D4 students in my clinical discipline. Graduates of the UCLA School of Dentistry are competent in the delivery of nitrous oxide and oxygen inhalation sedation. I attest to their competency – based on their clinical experience and challenge of a competency experience with nitrous oxide sedation. I knew that I would have to figure out a way to remotely accomplish this.

Dean Krebsbach: What benefits do you find in the new remote teaching environment? What are the challenges?

Dr. Quinn: The positives are the time I’ve saved by not commuting for 2.5 hours and I’m accomplishing quite a bit through my laptop. Challenges are that I’m a “work in progress”. I’m trying to learn how to keep my “audience” engaged. I also miss the direct student interaction, especially in the anesthesia setting. Unfortunately, no amount of remote teaching can duplicate the patient experience, but then isn’t that the challenge that we are all currently having?