March 5, 2021
Drs. Mary-Anne MacDonald and Jill Bashutski are a force to be reckoned with in the world of dentistry. Full-time clinicians, business owners and nonprofit founders, these remarkable women are blazing a trail for female practitioners to come.
Mary-Anne and Jill’s paths would eventually cross at a dentalcorp Advisory Council meeting in 2019. As UWO alumni who also happened to be the only two female Partners on the council at the time, they instantly connected.
“I was immediately struck by Mary-Anne’s confidence, positivity and assertiveness during the meeting. Her insights were valuable and when she spoke, people listened,” said Jill. “After the meeting, she introduced herself, and we engaged in a conversation about the importance of women working together instead of competing with each other.”
Their conversation on female empowerment would be just one of many, marking the beginning of a meaningful relationship – on both a personal and professional level.
Paying it forward
“We’ve talked a lot over the years about our advancing women and helping to break down barriers,” said Mary-Anne. “When the pandemic hit, we suddenly had the time to pursue these goals and to bring them to fruition. Both of us felt a strong sense of responsibility to give back to the community and to help provide opportunities to others.”
Determined to pay their success forward, the two women co-founded Girls Leading Girls (GLG) Tennis, a not-for-profit initiative dedicated to inspiring and empowering female youth in becoming strong leaders. GLG funds tennis lessons for young girls who are coached by older competitive junior tennis players. While learning valuable new skills from program leaders, these youth mentors gain hands-on leadership experience as they teach and inspire the next generation of girls how to play tennis.
A fulfilling career
After two decades of practice, both dentists continue to feel energized by their careers.
“Dentistry has provided so much diversity and satisfaction,” said Jill. “I’ve had a full-time career in academia and clinical practice, experience building a startup company and overseeing the management of multiple clinics. I could not have imagined a more fulfilling path,” said Jill.
“I have patients at my practice that I have seen for almost 20 years. It is so rewarding to be a part of their lives and make a difference in their oral health. It is such a gift to be in our position,” echoed Mary-Anne.
Like most fields traditionally dominated by men, they admit that dentistry has its own challenges for women, who continue to face conscious and unconscious biases along with underrepresentation at higher levels of administration and governance.
“Unfortunately, up until very recently, competition among female dentists has been fierce due to the select few opportunities available to us,” said Jill.
Despite the hurdles, they believe substantial strides are being made to overcome these barriers.
“Overall, dentistry provides opportunities for leadership, autonomy and freedom that few other professions can provide. Every career has its challenges, but dentistry is a great choice with so many rewards,” said Mary-Anne.
Building on the momentum
Mary-Anne and Jill ultimately believe it is the responsibility of all clinicians—regardless of gender—to build on this momentum within the industry.
“Success is not a zero-sum game. It multiplies when we work together,” Mary-Anne points out.
When asked what advice they have for other women entering the field, Jill offers, “It’s important for us to give back to our profession and advocate for positive change, and there are so many ways to do it, whether it’s participating on a board, providing mentorship, or donating time or money to a worthy cause.”
Mary-Anne adds, “Remember that you were able to achieve your career goals—in part—as a result of the efforts of those who came before you. Leave things a little better than you found them. And always stay positive.”
dentalcorp Partners since 2013 and 2018, Drs. Mary-Anne Macdonald and Jill Bashutski currently practice as principal dentists at Scotia Dental and Cityview Periodontal Centre in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, respectively.
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