10: THE NETHERLANDS
11: BACK TO GERMANY
18: CYPRUS WIND DOWN
22: MEXICO Y ESPANA
FINAL YEAR IN DENTAL SCHOOL WITH A SIDE TRIP TO JAMAICA
I was fortunate to have had great classmates in dental school. So as I began my final year towards my dental degree it was with mixed feelings. As fortune would have it we have ,in many cases, kept contact. Reunions were almost family like. At one reunion I was telling a Jewish classmate who observed the Sabbath strictly, “ Hey people didn’t know I also had strong beliefs, I never studied on Fridays “ J Montreal was a great city to for students. The pub life was excellent, the scenery was great and the ambiance was world class. I had a nice circle of friends. A couple were residents in the post graduate General Dentistry program at McGill. The Montreal General had a nurse’s school and our social lives were really a nice welcome to our heavy clinic and academic requirements. Thanks to all who made this year so memorable.
The chapter on Jamaica with my travel mate Rick tells of our Christmas holiday. The last half of my final year at McGill Dental School had begun on a high note ( Hey no play on words about the ganja J ) It was a wonderful trip full of memories. The kindness of ordinary people, the beauty of the countryside and meeting Farley Mowat, all pretty memorable events. Back in Montreal I got ready for the final push. Dental school is at once challenging and busy but due to a great class and wonderful caring professors it was also satisfying in every way. I have always enjoyed the rapport with patients and as techniques
and materials have advanced I continue to give thanks for a profession I enjoy. Our close class came to an emotional end at graduation as we set out to various points to enter the professional world. We still meet for reunions, sadly a few of our friends have passed on and we take it almost like family. I took and passed both Canadian and American dental board exams so I was armed with lots of paper when exams ended. Interestingly I did not take the Quebec board exams. I still find it strange that even though the licensing board for Quebec Dentists oversees Quebec Universities they require a practical exam to earn a licence. So I had a heavy decision to make. I had been “posted” to Halifax with the Army . In Nova Scotia all I had to do was apply with my Canadian Board Certification and I would be licensed. Or pay $300 for the Quebec practical… hmm $300 could go a long way in the Montreal pubs.. So I opted for fun and pleasure over some irrational practical exam.
McGill brought back great memories. Most were due to the close knit class we had. I can't emphasis this enough. When I speak with otehr dentists many look back on their school years with a negative feeling. Our class worked with each other, I have heard of some classes where people seemed to work to bring others down. I recall one time in first year a classmate said, "This looks like a competitive class" . I replied that the football field was for competition, class is to learn and enjoy. He gave me a look and said, "You know you are right". Mind you I have never been one to fret about school. Maybe an outlook that is positive makes life more fun. Strangely enough in my military career a smail meant one is not serious to some tight asses :).
We had a lot of great times in our dental class. From laboratory work to clinics and academic class work. As I mentioned I was shown the curb by a long term girlfriend...actually a fiancée. Hard as it was at the time it opened many doors from travel to . .well a great social life. As I mentioned I discovered that there was a nursing school at the Montreal general Hospital , where our clinic was located. And i discovered that roughly half the people my age were of the fair sex and many were single. PAS POSSIBLE :). At our Spring Formal, in third year I was accompanied by a gal who looked a lot like Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge. A tad of a good looker :) The following Monday we had class elections and one fellow got up and said ,"Hey did you see the gal Mike had at the Formal. there is only one choice for class social chairman...So higher office beckoned :) Through out the year I organized a few Saturday night parties and everyone either came or told me they could not come. It was a small gesture :but, it brought us together as a class. At McGill we had to do our own laboratory work. This may have changed and it is now outsourced to commercial labs. But, I feel it made me a better dentist as I came to understand and actually do some of the technical applications.
At that time , in Quebec, there were "taverns" which were men only pubs. no not gay bars, don't look at me that way :) You big silly.... They were a working man's paradise, decor was tables and chairs. nothing fancy. Food was basic and cheap. And at that time a 1/2 pint of beer in a glass was a dime...I know it would cost $10 now :). Once a month, and often most Fridays a group of us to traipse over to "Our tavern" The Pocket Rocket tavern on Pine street about a 10 minute walk from McGill. Henri Richard was the younger brother of Maurice Richard, a legendary French Canadian hockey player.. Maurice was dubbed "The Rocket" , Henri won the "Pocket Rocket " sobriquet . His tavern featured a lot of hockey memorabilia on the walls from poster to sweaters , to hockey sticks. It was a great spot, food was excellent, the atmosphere was electric as Montreal was once the home of "real Hockey " :) One Friday, the morning after a playoff game with Chicago in which "The Pocket" scored a hat trick ( three goals) we were sitting enjoying our repast and in walks the Pocket. He of course got a round of applause...Montréaler were keen hockey fans. As he walked by he waved his hand in a "A round on the house" gesture....again more applause :) One time we tried to sneak in one of our female classmates but we were caught :) The feminist movement in Quebec railed against the women only taverns so they went a bit upscale with fancier menus and higher prices. Too bad in a way as it was not discrimination but more targeting a particular audience. And then as now Montreal had great restaurants all over the place...Times change :)
In Clinic we had to achieve a certain number of cases to pass. I was able to meet that goal with time to spare and I chose to do more so as to get experience. That year our class also sat American and Canadian board exams. These were theoretical papers and an American classmate told me that McGill was usually in the high percentile of results in the US. In fact over the years I heard that only one person failed and he took the exams the day after his marriage. Screwed out as some of less sophistication might say :). So I had all the papers to be able to practice in the US, although some States required a practical as well. I could also practice across Canada on presentation of these papers. It is interesting to note that to practice in Quebec one had to sit a practical doing fillings and casting a crown. Now since the registration office was nominally in charge of curriculum supervision one would expect that passing at a Quebec dental university would suffice...But oh no The College of Dentists of Quebec demanded a practical. Now here was a dilemma. I had been transferred to Halifax Nova Scotia so all I needed to do was register . So what to do......take the exam and spend $300 or spend more time on Crescent street as a social norm required...NO DECISION NEEDED> ..Crescent street there I went. Seven years later I sat the practical and one of the adjudicators noted I had done well. I told him of my experience as an instructor in the service. and how silly this all was :( I passed and got an invitation to attend swearing in ceremony at a modest $250. I declined so can't practice in Quebec. Years later our family was in British Columbia and I enquired about registering.. "No go have to take a practical and do all the lab work" As I mentioned we did lab work at McGill but few do so in practice. I told the fellow at the registry office that it is a ruse to keep numbers down. He was not pleased to hear me say this and I reminded him he was fortunate I was in the Forces or I would have gone public... Some times "suits" bother me a lot. I would recommend a great book by Dr Edward de Bono called "Lateral thinking" , he also wrote "Thinking outside the box". The latter is often quoted in management courses without accreditation to de Bono. I find that dealing with "suits', particularly in Government one does not encounter much thinking outside the box. It would have been logical and acceptable to grant me a license to practice in both Québec and British Columbia. But, rules are rules as the suits parrot :)
I was particularly proud when I received my degree as my parents were able to attend the McGill Commencement exercises. There was also a minor thrill for me as the ceremony was at the Montreal Forum where my beloved Canadiens played... The graduates were on the ice ( Planks were actually on the ice) I kept looking around and envisioning the Rocket, Beliveau, etc playing. I saw my parents in the seats above the ice. I owe so much to their encouragement and diligence seeing I, in fact always took school seriously. Both were children of the depression and then WWII came along and they were not able to get the opportunities that came so readily to me. I have always been mindful of this. And as I have stated I was thrilled to share the travel experience my dad was able to enjoy.
The world beckoned and I was almost ready. I say almost as I was suddenly, at the tender age of 26, thrust into the big bad world. :)