​Dr. Bob Wood ready to sink his teeth into something new

17/12/2018

(Dr. Bob Wood has worked his entire 32-year career at The Princess Margaret, with the last 12 years spent as the head of the Dental Oncology Department. At the end of the year, he will step aside as department head. Photo: UHN)

Dr. Robert Wood is smiling and characteristically blunt: "I'm getting out of the way."

That's how Dr. Wood, or Bob to his colleagues, describes his decision to step aside as Head of the Dental Oncology and Maxillofacial Prosthetics Clinic at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at the end of the year.

"I think it's important to know when it's time to move on and give the younger staff in our group a chance to grow," he says.  

After leading the department for 12 years, Dr. Wood is ready to turn over the reins, but he's not calling it retiring.

"Just knowing myself – to go full tilt and then stop is death, so there has to be a transition," he says.

The need to ease into the next move isn't surprising. Dr. Wood has spent his entire 32-year career at The Princess Margaret, starting at its original location on Sherbourne St., to its current home on University Ave.
  
"Bob's always had an entertaining and energetic approach," says Dr. Jonathan Irish, who has worked with Dr. Wood since 1991 in his role as a surgical oncologist specializing in head and neck cancers at The Princess Margaret.

"He has a very pragmatic approach to patient care, never says no, and always does it with a smile on his face and with great humour."

Pragmatism is a trait Dr. Wood has always embraced and it's what helped set him on the path to dentistry.

"I knew absolutely nothing about dentistry," he says. "My thinking was you could apply to dentistry after one year or you could apply to medicine after two years. I grew up poor, so I thought let's go with dentistry.

"I never believed I would get in, so I had zero stress during the interview and aptitude test. When I actually did I thought, 'well I guess I have to do this now.'"

He would go on to finish his years of dentistry at the University of Toronto and do his post graduate year in hospital dentistry at Toronto Western Hospital working with who he calls "giants of medicine," including Drs. Tirone David, Robert Jackson, Karel terBrugge, Nick Oreopolous and Morris Uldall.

"Getting to work with such top people is what made me think it would be really desirable to have a hospital career," he says. "I've been very fortunate over my entire career to work with really good physicians and surgeons."

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