Kathryn Truant CDA MEd – a CDA's Role in Education and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Oral examination & presentation to cohort

Kathryn Truant
November 26, 2021

Good evening everyone. And a special good evening to my professors who I have not had the pleasure to meet in person – it is nice to finally meet you😊

I have Doug to thank for introducing me to the: What? So, what? and Now what? format that I use to articulate my educational journey. I also want to thank Michael for being an Anthropologist and sharing the value of sociocultural artefacts – This evening I will discuss a few pieces that I’ve collected on this MEd journey that especially resonate.


– I am a Certified Dental Assistant. Workplace circumstances lead me to become a formal educator. I became an educator as an extension of my vocation and not as an alternative to it. I enjoy having two domains.

– I arrived here as a professional in crisis seeking renaissance.

– I share in the beginning of this semester that there is a critical shortage of CDA’s in our province: my research looks at retention factors. It’s important to share that ‘poor climate in the workplace’, and ‘unsatisfactory working conditions’ are the two main reasons why CDA’s are not remaining in the profession (this data is from a 2018 provincial employment survey).
– My ‘This I Believe’ from Semester One was based on Brookfield’s Impostor Syndrome: “I will always feel like an impostor and will never lose the sense of amazement I feel when people treat me as if I have something to offer.”  


– Brookfield also argues that a: “degree of impostorship is not totally negative; indeed, properly controlled it can be productively troubling” – (Cary Campbell calls this the ‘rub:’ “The indexical rub of learning, that initial friction or resistance felt when meeting a new experience”)

– Impostor syndrome also “stops us becoming complacent and ensures that we see our practice as being in constant flux and evolution.”

– I recently binge-watched The Sopranos (something that was on my bucket list – I love a great story). In Season 6, Tony Soprano, the protagonist/antagonist, nearly dies from a gunshot wound. During his recovery, he notices a card with a cryptic message that an unknown visitor leaves in his hospital room. It says:

“Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky” Ojibwe saying – author unknown

– This statement caught my attention. It resonates with Tony too – He spends the rest of Season 6 in awe over the phrase, repeating it in different contexts trying to find deeper meaning. Having an advisor who is an Anthropologist comes in handy because I am inspired to collect words, and phrases, that are meaningful to me.

– The wind has great meaning in my life: it means time and movement, and adjustment, and unpredictability, and unexpected gifts and setbacks. Sometimes I feel like I am going with the wind and sometimes I feel like I am pushing against the wind, but always moving forward through time: This is how I sum up this MEd thanks to Michael and The Sopranos.

– Peter Jarvis explains a learning journey “as that of the human essence emerging from the human existent, a process that continues throughout the whole of life, and that essence is moulded through interaction with the world.” He continues: “I do not need to have meaning to learn from the experience, although I might want to give meaning to my experiences as I reflect upon them.”

– Gert Biesta argues that “‘learning’ is an individualistic and individualising term – learning is, after all, something one can do for oneself; it is not possible to learn for somebody else.” He explains that ‘learning’ has shifted attention away from the importance of relationships in educational practices and has made it difficult to explore what the tasks and responsibilities of teachers and adult educators are.” – How do I help my students find meaning?

– Paulo Freire reasons that lack of meaning is a form of oppression: “Whereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality.” His work is important to my educational journey because Freire signifies the ‘banking culture’ that exists in organizations, like professional domains, to maintain traditional hierarchy. There is a lot wrong with Dentistry in this regard (For example, did you know that as a stopgap measure, the BCDA supports the notion of hiring people ‘off the street’ to address the critical shortage of CDA’s? The dentists believe that they can ‘fill’ these people, without any dental background, full of the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attitudes!). Freire maintains that oppressed people cannot expect generosity in the form of change from their oppressors. I need to mastermind my own deliverance from ‘workplace circumstances’. This was a huge turning point in my process of finding meaning in my domain. Freire suggests that people who perceive themselves as being oppressed, that is, looking for meaning, need to «««oversee their own liberation; he argues that liberation on this level is a mutual process.
– I started seriously thinking about my own rub: «««and how I could improve ‘workplace conditions’; for myself and other CDA’s, and in turn, protect the public ‘at large.’


– Brookfield maintains that “change entails moving into the unknown.”


– Natalia talks about mentorship, tools and units of knowledge:

Guided, ‘problem-posing’ tools will advance skills for CDA’s, and these tools will help dentists retain and motivate their employees by supporting opportunity for advanced skills education.

A couple classes ago, Michael suggested that we have a ‘license and obligation’ to continue to move forward as a Master of Education:
– My goal is to look for solutions that will increase retention and to resonate – that is, to create a legacy.
– I designed an Advanced Skills Workshop for CDA’s and submitted my proposal to Continuing Studies at Okanagan College.
– I also have a plan to provide workshops on my own accord in different parts of the province as a consultant.
– I created a Wage Scale to measure units of knowledge in practice. There are no unions in dentistry. My wage scale can be customized to any domain and includes a measurable taxonomy: Novice (fundamental awareness), Intermediate (practical application), Advanced (applied theory), Expert (recognized authority). I am happy to share my template with anyone who is interested.

– Glen introduced John Hattie and the meta-analysis study, and the importance of self-efficacy over being an SME as an educator, which reminds me of something I wrote in my letter of intent back in June of 2019: “I am a knowledgeable and experienced dental assistant, and my mission is simple: possessing experience and expertise in dentistry is extremely important, but what matters most is how well I can convey my knowledge, skills, and attitudes to my learners.” It seems I was on the right track.

– I started taking inventory of my capabilities, my weaknesses, my goals, and aspirations during the PIDP: I created a website/online portfolio entitled kathryntruant.com which I’ve used to catalogue my research and resources in both my domains, and to document my evolution through this MEd, and to resonate.

I hope that my words, presentations, and projects will resonate.

Finally, Michael recommended we read the poet Wistava Szymborska’s Nobel acceptance speech. A CDA will likely never be a Nobel Laureate, but Szymborska inspires me and invites me to continuously seek deeper meaning in my work:

“There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners – and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it.” She argues: “Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’”

– The Ojibwe are right (and apparently so is Bob Dylan): the answers for me are ‘blowing in the wind;’ I just need to have faith in myself. Thank you all for helping me on this journey.

– As an aside, and I wasn’t going to address this at all in my Capstone, but I feel it’s poignant: A year ago (last fall), Doug conducted a survey to see which of the STEEP categories resonated or held meaning for us – the ENVIRONMENTAL category held the least charm across the board. I was assigned that ‘letter’ and worked with Simona, Len, and Kristina which was a great experience for me – I wonder now, considering the current environmental catastrophes in our province if that ‘letter’ would resonate more – I hope so.

– During Larry’s class I facilitated a case study based on Richard Kiely’s (2003) Nominal Group Technique:
What works for you? A group discussion approach to programme evaluation. In the clinic where I practice in my community (outside of Okanagan College), I initiated a semi-hypothetical evaluation with the blessing of my employer. It was a brief questionnaire which led to group discussion in how to improve the practice (on a cultural level).]


– I will finally have time to read the dozen or so books and articles on my nightstand:
Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), Go Tell the Bees I am Gone (Gabaldon), The Stand (King), and ALL THE ASSIGNED AND RECOMMENDED READINGS THAT I SKIMMED OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS!

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