Celebrating 10 Years of the Graduate Pediatrics Program

It’s the 10th anniversary of three UBC Dentistry graduate programs—orthodontics, pediatrics and prosthodontics! To celebrate, we are highlighting some of our amazing alumni as part of an “in conversation with” feature to learn more about their time at UBC Dentistry and where they are today. Our second connection is with Dr. Winnie Zhao, MSc Dip Peds 2013, who was part of the first pediatrics graduating class.

Can you walk us through your career journey?

During dental school, I participated in the UBC Dentistry Summer Student Practitioner Program where I spent several weeks providing dental care to children. I also volunteered at a clinic in Guatemala where I primarily did tooth extractions on kids and found I really enjoyed working with children.

After completing dental school at UBC, I did a one-year general practice residency splitting my time between Vancouver General Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital. This was a unique opportunity to advance my skills and confirmed that pediatrics was what I wanted to do.

When UBC introduced the graduate specialty in pediatrics in 2010 I was so excited! I applied and was one of three students in the program—Nancy, Carter and I were a very tight-knit group and still keep in touch.

Today, I divide my time between Monarch Pediatric Dental in Vancouver and BC Children’s Hospital. At the hospital, I perform procedures and teach second and third year pediatric graduate students.

What sparked your interest in dentistry?

I had many experiences at the dentist as a child, and I think those interactions sparked my interest and curiosity in dentistry at a young age.

What do you love most about what you do?

It’s a privilege to get to know families and see their kids grow up. A lot of kids have anxiety about going to the dentist, so it’s rewarding to not only provide treatment but to also help them overcome their anxieties.

What was your experience like being the first UBC class to graduate with a specialty in pediatrics?

Being the first class meant there was definitely some fear of the unknown, but our class was really close, and we supported each other through everything. The excitement of UBC offering this specialty outweighed any apprehension.

One highlight was the amazing instructors. They’ve influenced my career and are the reason why, along with my clinical work, I also teach—I love sharing knowledge with others just like my pediatric instructors did with me.

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon?

Relaxing and painting. I enjoy doing oil and watercolour paintings of still objects and landscapes.