Dr. Jaleel and the rest of our team are always keen on helping young individuals with career questions. If you are considering being a dentist in Ottawa, or being a dental assistant in Ottawa, the Fairlawn Dental team will be happy to answer your questions about how we reached where we are today. We would like to share a little motivational story with our readers and patients.
The following is an interview with Dr. Bill Inkster, who took a chance and wasn’t afraid to try something different.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Bill Inkster, at 61 years-old, retired from his career as a dentist and embarked on a completely new career.
Just how different that something would be – working with a brilliant forensic coroner and helping to solve some of British Columbia’s most baffling missing persons’ cases – was not exactly what he expected.
Although he’d had a “good kick at the can in dentistry” and found the work fulfilling, “I wasn’t ready to do absolutely nothing.”
He thought he might become a local community coroner, a part-time occupation that would be interesting, but not take up much more than a week or two each month. He had already used his clinical dental knowledge to help the Vancouver police identify dead bodies, and had even done a pair of courses in forensic odontology and pathology.
Instead, he found himself applying for the full-time position as identification analyst with the British Columbia Coroner’s Service, encouraged by its director, Steve Fonseca, a man Dr. Inkster describes as “literally the most brilliant person I have ever known.”
More than six years later, Dr. Inkster is now, at 67, acting head of that service’s Identification and Disaster Response Unit, with Mr. Fonseca away completing a two-year stint with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Lebanon.
Dr. Inkster’s new job entails supporting regional coroners and supervising the work of other identification specialists, including DNA and fingerprint experts. That implied learning from the work itself and “common sense,” he says.
The rewarding job and his desire to keep learning means Dr. Inkster wants to keep working past the normal retirement age. And while he recognizes that some employers might be reluctant to hire an older worker, in his case, he says, “It honestly didn’t even occur to me because I knew I would be fine and I could compete. And I was given a complete fair kick at applying for this job, and panelling for it.”
He admits that he was lucky, too. “This is, by any definition, just a dream job for me. To do this kind of work and to have the success we’ve had.”
His advice for the older job-seeker?
Try to plan ahead as much as possible and vest yourself with knowledge from whatever field you might want to pursue later.
“When you get past the stage of wanting to learn, then you’re in trouble,” he said. “But don’t be afraid to take local courses in whatever interests you. These courses are generally tied in with industry and with people who require the expertise that they are producing in those courses.”
Mostly, though, he counsels perseverance. “Keep your chin up and keep going. Some employers will not want a young person, because they will want certain life skills that only come with age and experience,” he said. “So don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re too old, because there’s a lot of employers who will want that mature person.”
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