5 Questions with Deanna Mackay

VIU's Dental Hygiene Faculty Member Deanna McKay

March 7, 2019 - 9:15am

Vancouver Island University’s newest faculty member in Dental Hygiene, Professor Deanna Mackay, relocated from the prairies in Manitoba to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. After a lengthy career in the clinical dental world – seven years as a dental assistant and almost 12 years as a dental hygienist – she is sharing her knowledge with future dental professionals. Extremely enthusiastic about teeth and caring for the people attached to them, Mackay brings her passion and a fresh outlook into the classroom. 

What do you feel you bring to VIU? 

In university, students largely learn the clinical aspect of the profession in order to put it into practice in the field, but there is also an art to dental hygiene– of how you interact with your clients, how to work together with your dental team and other health care professionals, the real-world practice. I bring a well-rounded outlook on the diverse industry of dental hygiene and hopefully will inspire my students to see all of the amazing aspects of the profession. 

If you could choose a different career path, what would it be? 

I have worked so hard to get here, I don’t think I have thought past this point! If money wasn’t a barrier, I would probably be a full-time student. I absolutely love learning. If I could be in university and show up for classes to learn all day, that would be a pretty enjoyable life. 

One of VIU’s core values is research and the pursuit of knowledge. What is your take on that? 

Research gives us a different outlook on our world. It is crucial to growing our profession and advancing our lives to be better, healthier and happier. 

What do you hope to achieve at your time at VIU? 

Along with being a successful educator and colleague, I hope to continue the research I started during my master’s degree. I researched how individuals and their partners experience head and neck cancer from a psychological perspective. The outcomes were really eye opening for me. I hope my research creates an open dialogue and provides critical insights for health-care providers and decision-makers to better support patient and family-centered care.

What message do you want students to learn from your insight? 

Throughout my study participant interviews, all individuals shared their perspectives on the positive and negative impacts that health-care professionals had on their cancer and survivorship experiences. As a health-care provider, I am now more aware of the effect of my words and how I make individuals feel. Maya Angelou’s famous quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” speaks to what I now carry forward about the importance and value of how we as health-care professionals interact with our clients and family members. The resounding message I heard from my participants was that they did not remember all the stats or facts shared with them, but they remembered when someone talked with them as a real individual. Simple eye contact, a hug, a pat on the shoulder, the recognition that the person sitting across from you is an individual, is unique and is not just a “patient” or your 10:15 am appointment resonated deeply with my participants. They voiced how deeply the words and intentions of health-care providers mattered to them.  

I hope to instill this insight in my students. Our words and intention can impact how our clients and their family members can perceive their treatment, the health-care system and themselves. I hope my students take this to heart and will use their words, actions and their clinical relationships to best support client and family-centred care.



Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250-741-6673 l C: 250-619-1088 l E: Rae-Anne.Guenther@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews




Tags: 5 Questions | Dental Hygiene

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