Revival—The Patterson Dental Learning Centre at UBC

The Sutherland Clinic, a much loved but somewhat neglected facility on the ground floor of the John B. Macdonald Building, has been revived. Thanks to many stakeholders in the profession and one of the largest gifts to UBC Dentistry to date, the clinic has been brought back to life to once again host study clubs.

No one quite remembers when this facility began to be known as the “old” Sutherland Clinic—perhaps in the mid-2000s when a new clinic, now the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre, was being planned and built. In its time, the Sutherland Clinic was modern like the rest of the facilities in the original 1968 dental building. But, by the 2010s, its dated-yet-functional dental equipment, surrounded by a faded retro interior design populated by industrial-strength furnishings, clearly signalled it was a throwback to another era. The clinic had long withstood renovation, not because of any enduring charm or innate resilience, but for lack of opportunity and finances.

One day, however, opportunity knocked and the door was answered in the form of a dynamic plan from Dr. Mary MacDougall, dean of UBC Dentistry.

The British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) board decided in 2017 to close its dental learning centre (DLC) doors at 1765 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver due to cost restraints. The association turned to industry suppliers and the study club community for ideas on what to do with the DLC infrastructure. The BCDA didn’t own the dental chairs—these were on a leasehold arrangement through a dealer, Patterson Dental/Dentaire, and the manufacturer, A-dec Inc., both of whom were needed to finalize any purchase agreements. The furnishings, dental equipment, audiovisual equipment and computers had been generously donated by industry partners and individuals. While selling this inventory off piece by piece seemed a possible solution, it was at odds with the original intentions of the donors to support a study club facility.

Dr. MacDougall, however, had an enticing win-win solution: relocate the DLC to UBC—specifically, to the Sutherland Clinic.

Everyone agreed, and together with UBC Dentistry, an impassioned partnership has created a new platform for lifelong learning—the Patterson Dental Learning Centre—named in honour of Patterson Dental/Dentaire, the donor behind one of the largest gifts to UBC Dentistry to date.

The Dean’s Vision: A Transformational Model for All Users—Including Students

Step one: Save the BCDA DLC by relocating it to UBC, thereby ensuring sustained access to high-quality speakers and mentors from across the province for study clubs.

Step two: Provide new options for collaboration and curriculum-based learning to enhance the efficacy of hands-on training to dentists and students. The UBC campus site reopens the long-sought possibility for dental students to have direct exposure to additional master clinicians by undertaking rotations in the dental learning centre as observers and assistants with various study clubs. An integrated approach to professional dental education resonates well with students, educators and study club leaders: all agree that it contributes to the modelling of lifelong learners.

The dean’s vision for the Patterson Dental Learning Centre fits completely within the Faculty’s mission to “advance oral health through outstanding education,” and it plays an assist in the ultimate goal: well-educated graduates who are ably prepared to meet the oral health and science needs of their communities.

From BCDA to UBC: The DLC Is Saved

Members of the Study Club Alliance of British Columbia, as well as corporate partners and dentistry associations, generously supported the former British Columbia Dental Association Dental Learning Centre. Their commitment and passion for dental education and clinical excellence now lives on at the Patterson Dental Learning Centre.

“Dean McDougall’s impressive and cost-effective business plan won the day, honouring the original intent of securing a dedicated space for hands-on training with patients—and exposing new dentists directly to the benefits of our rich study club tradition in BC,” Dr. Kin-Kong Wan, then BCDA board president, wrote in his November 2017 report. The board declared their unanimous support for McDougall’s plan, the report states, including encouragement to Patterson Dental to transfer the unit ‘loan’ agreement from the BCDA to UBC in order to facilitate the [Sutherland] clinic upgrade. “With the UBC proposal and support from Patterson, we can all start 2018 with a sustainable plan for dedicated hands-on training space in BC!” Wan concluded.

The commitment and support of both Patterson Dental and A-dec was instrumental to the relocation, and their involvement was essential to renovating and outfitting the Sutherland Clinic. Working with A-dec, Patterson Dental donated the 11 existing A-dec 511 dental chairs, which it had loaned to the BCDA facility, to UBC. This donation of chairs, along with other dental equipment it had supplied for the BCDA site, plus financial support, was the cornerstone to realizing the dental learning centre at UBC.

Mr. Joe Ludwig, general manager of Patterson Dental, explains that the company partners with dental practices of all sizes to help oral health professionals practise extraordinary dentistry and that Patterson is committed to being the partner of tomorrow. “The opportunity for Patterson to support the relocation of the BCDA Dental Learning Centre to UBC was a chance to not only be part of an incredible new initiative in support of continuing dental education, but also to uphold our commitment to align with success,” he says. “The vision to create a modern, dynamic and interactive learning centre for the dental community and students at UBC was a natural fit for Patterson Dental. We are very proud to partner with UBC Dentistry in the opening of the Patterson Dental Learning Centre.”

Andrew Benzel, territory manager for A-dec, reflects that, alongside fellow A-dec territory manager Ryan Miller, it was a great opportunity to collaborate with UBC Dentistry in creating this new clinical space. “From conception to completion, this has been an amazing experience, and I truly believe this is the very best use of the BCDA DLC equipment to support dental education and lifelong learning for dentists throughout the province,” he says.

Meanwhile, further support from A-dec was essential in several ways: expertise in moving and installing infrastructure from the BCDA facility, working with Art Cader Architects Inc. to maximize the design in an existing footprint, and supplying custom-built cabinetry where needed. “The A-dec team worked closely with the University of British Columbia to help ensure the vision for the space became a reality,” says Susan Ferrante, A-dec school and government sales manager. “One of our priorities is to support dental education at all levels. This project fit that priority. The close partnership between the British Columbia Dental Association and UBC provides dentists with continuing education opportunities throughout their careers.”

Renovation work commenced June 1, 2018, and the dental learning centre opened in early September in time to accommodate use by study clubs while maintaining their BCDA DLC schedules for fall 2018 through spring 2019.

At long last, the dated Sutherland Clinic, one of the last vestiges of old clinic operatories in the John B. Macdonald Building, has been transformed into a modern, dynamic professional dental learning centre where the rich tradition of BC’s study clubs will continue to flourish.

The New UBC Dentistry Space for Study Clubs

The new dental learning centre packs a lot of punch in 203 sq. m (2,183 sq. ft.). Eight A-dec 511 ambidextrous chair units, each with a 533 Continental delivery system, are located in the main open clinic area, while three of the same chairs and delivery system configurations are in separate enclosed operatories.

The site is equipped with A-dec handpieces (high, low and electric). A lecture room pavilion sits adjacent to the open clinic area. One chair in the open clinic area is equipped with a webcam and microphone for transmitting live procedures to the lecture room pavilion. Medical-grade suction is available for all chairs, and in the open clinic area, there are eight wall-mounted Sirona X-ray units with CCD sensors (for digital radiography) and computers that have export capability.

An A-dec sterilization centre is located in an adjoining room. Additional technology includes a 3D cone beam CT unit and a CEREC Omnicam intra-oral scanner. The patient waiting area is inside the Patterson DLC, a stone’s throw from Wesbrook Mall and approximately half a block south of University Boulevard.

Full Circle: Students in Dental Learning Centre History at UBC

In the early days, the Sutherland Clinic (see below) was located on the third floor of the John B. Macdonald Building. Alumna Dr. Susan K. Chow, from the DMD Class of 1972, recalls participating in study club sessions as a student, helping as a dental assistant, holding suction tips and fetching supplies the dentists needed. “I had an opportunity to witness the beautiful and high-standard work the dentist participants did,” Dr. Chow says. “It was inspirational and transformative to see the beauty and artistry of excellent dental work.”

Later on, when this facility had grown out of its UBC roots, Chow explains, the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC) operated an off-campus study club clinic in Vancouver. The CDSBC, which at the time was both the regulatory body and the member organization for BC dentists, recognized the importance of proactive learning to elevate dentistry standards and aspirations.

By 2006, the basic facility was antiquated and at risk of closing. It was saved by a volunteer group of study club mentors who formed the Study Club Alliance led by Drs. Craig Naylor and Don MacFarlane. The Alliance raised $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions and renovated the facility into a more sophisticated dental learning centre with a lecture theatre. (See photo recognizing donors to the BCDA DLC.)

By 2012, as a result of a request made by the Alliance in 2010, the operational management was transferred to the British Columbia Dental Association. The CDSBC had split its assets and functions in 1996: the BCDA was the newly created BC dentists’ member organization; CDSBC retained the regulatory function.

For the next six years, the BCDA-operated dental learning centre continued to serve the dentists of BC—until the recent move back to UBC and relaunch as the Patterson Dental Learning Centre.

With its return to the UBC campus, the DLC has come full circle, according to Chow. She says that the study club clinic was originally intended to include students, and that now, situated in such close proximity at the dental school, this is a realization.

Chow’s experience as a student in study clubs long ago on the third floor of the John B. Macdonald Building seeded what she describes as her “lifelong passion for being involved in a study club.” Chow has been involved in the several iterations of the DLC facility as it moved and changed hands. She cites the collegiality and camaraderie among study club members and the dedication and humility of the mentors as the foundation of her sustained passion for hands-on study-club learning. “It is immeasurable how useful early exposure to these clubs was for my career,” she says.

A Brief History of Study Clubs

In the formative years of British Columbia, the first dentists to practise were Royal Navy medical staff. By 1882, when the BC Dental Act was passed, there were 17 registered dentists in the province. Geographically far from the nearest dental education institution, those early dentists began a tradition of self-teaching. By 1920, many local dental societies in the province brought in clinicians to teach courses that focused on particular dental topics, to advance knowledge in the profession. Study clubs emerged out of this trend and over the years have grown in number. In the Vancouver area, for example, there were four clubs registered in 1930, and by 1987, the count was up to 49. Today there are 65 study clubs listed on the College of Dental Surgeons of BC website ( The rich tradition of dentist self-education continues to thrive and shows no sign of waning.

All Study Clubs Are Invited

The Patterson Dental Learning Centre is available for use by all study clubs. Booking management is overseen by UBC Dentistry Division of Continuing Dental Education. To learn more about the space and to book sessions for your study club, contact Brenda Kiernan at 604-827-5696 or

The Cosmos Spectrum Study Club was the first study club to use the Patterson Dental Learning Centre on September 7, 2018. Members in attendance, from left to right: Maurice Wong, Baha Azizi (DMD 1009), Ken Stones, Harry Killas, William Rosebush (DMD 1983), Chuck Cheung, Adolfo Gonzalez, Warren Ennis (DMD 1982), Al Margulius, Enid Gonzalez, Murray Bohn, and Gavin Chu (DMD 1980).


A Brief History of the Sutherland Clinic

This clinic space opened in the UBC Faculty of Dentistry John B. Macdonald Building in 1968. It was named for 40-year dentistry veteran Dr. Douglas J. Sutherland, in recognition of his efforts to promote dental education and his role in establishing the faculty of dentistry in 1962. As many as nine Faculty of Dentistry study clubs were using the clinic for continuing dental education.

In 1993, for a short while, the space was used for a clinic funded by Veteran Affairs Canada. The space was then used for a short time by faculty practice dentists, as well as to house overflow chair requirements for the DMD program while the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre was being built.

Since its beginning, the Sutherland Clinic has been used for UBC Continuing Dental Education’s various courses, perpetuating the original intention of the Sutherland Clinic to support professional dental excellence.

To honour Dr. Sutherland, a plaque will be placed in a prominent location in the Patterson Dental Learning Centre.

Opportunities to Support the Dental Learning Centre

Founding support for the new dental learning centre has been generous. Additional opportunities to support the Patterson Dental Learning Centre include naming rights: open operatories at $30,000 and closed operatories at $75,000. There are naming opportunities available in other areas of the centre as well. To date, five operatories have been named.

Also, study clubs, study club members or other individuals can make a one-time donation or give annually to the Friends of the Centre Fund. Gifts to this fund support operational costs, including sundries and maintenance. A charitable tax receipt will be issued for all gifts and a special reception will be held each year for ongoing supporters.

Support the Patterson Dental Learning Centre through the Friends of the Centre Fund >>

To learn more about opportunities to support the dental learning centre, contact the UBC Dentistry Development Team at 604-822-5886 or