May 2018: Mother's Day Tribute to my mother Dr. Jennifer Maguire

Not a lot of people that I know work with their mothers. For the last three years I have been lucky enough to work with mine. I was first one of her ‘associates’ (employees) and now I am her boss. Over this time I have learned a great deal about her that I would never have seen if she was just ‘my mum’. 

I have learned that she has mastered the art of work/life balance. If you were to just know her from the mum side you would see that she has always been a career woman. She worked very hard and didn’t take much time off when having kids. When I was born she was back at work when I was only three months old. But when my sisters and I were young she only treated patients two days a week so she could be with us the other days.

As we got older she added more clinic days to her schedule and started the next chapter of her work-life when she opened her own dental clinic the year I moved away for first-year university. She had ‘completed’ her duties of raising her daughters, so now was her time to shine as an expert in her field. She had worked as an associate dentist in a practice owned by another dentist for more than 25 years. She had always dreamed of opening her own practice where she would be able to treat patients in just the way she wanted, spending more time with each patient and really involving the patient in the development of the treatment plan. 

For nine years she worked her butt off. She figured out how to be a small business owner and leader of an all women team. She learned how to slow down and really focus on her patients’ needs while still being able to pay her staff and her rent at the end of the month.

During this nine-year period I was at school…the whole time. I completed my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Right after I completed my undergrad I moved to Montreal for dental school. Four years later I was on the move again for residency (advanced education in general dentistry) at UCLA in Los Angeles.

When I moved away for university I said I would never move back to Calgary.  I was enamored with the ocean and my life in Vancouver. And then I liked the idea of living in a small ski town where patients would know that their dental appointments were canceled if it was a powder day. It wasn’t until I was in my 4th year of dental school that I began seriously thinking about moving back to Calgary. The mountains are so close but it is still a city with an international airport and everything you could ask for in a city.

If it wasn’t for this small hope that I would move back to Calgary and want to take over my mother’s dental practice, I think she would have sold her practice and retired years ago.

The summer of 2015 I moved back to Calgary and joined Calgary Fine Dentistry, my mother’s pride and joy. As I sat back and observed my mum treating patients I really learned how passionate she was about her patients’ wellbeing. She had a real drive to give her patients the best care possible. She spent hours after patients and staff had gone home to work out the proper sequence of treatment and in the lab create the changes necessary to obtain adequate form and function for her more complicated patients. She took time on her days off to pay the office bills and submit her staff payroll.  She spent countless days at courses to learn about issues such as TMJ disorders and the non run-of-the-mill dentistry that she became so passionate about.

For the last three years she has taken me under her wing and taught me what she has learned over her 39-year career. She taught me to gather as much information as possible when first seeing a patient and then spend a few days with this information in the back of your mind before coming to develop a treatment plan. We are constantly discussing patient cases to see if there are any ideas we haven’t thought of. We often treat patients in conjunction to play to our strengths in order to give our patients the best care possible. I have taught her a thing or two during this time also from my many years of education.

But now it is time for her life focus to shift back towards her personal life and work as an associate dentist once again. January 2018 I took over Calgary Fine Dentistry and became my mother’s boss. Although I am now the one that pays the bills I still learn from her every day. One thing I am still working on is the crucial tea time at the end of the day. The little break after a full day of seeing patients and before jumping into management duties to sit and reflect. And not without a chocolate covered cookie. 

Lauren Vredenburg