Dr. Amanda Hill

Pictou County, NS

Small Town, Big Heart, Strong Pulse

The health of a community directly affects the health of its residents. That’s what Dr. Amanda Hill believes and what she practices every day as a general dentist and proud community member of Pictou County, Nova Scotia.

Having grown up in the small town of Pictou N.S., Dr. Hill knew she wanted to attend a university that had a small community feel. She attended Saint Francis Xavier University (StFX) in Antigonish for three years before being granted early acceptance into the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Program at Dalhousie University (DAL), where she graduated in 2008.

Dr. Hill always found herself immersed in the community where she was living and studying at the time, whether as an undergrad student at StFX or as a young dental student during her graduate studies in Halifax. As a member of the medical choir at DAL, an active participant of various intermural sports teams, and a dedicated committee member on various student-life groups, Dr. Hill reflects now and admits she was always looking for a new opportunity to get involved and meet new people.

Now a General Practitioner (GP) dentist in New Glasgow, Dr. Hill says not much has changed in that department. “Dentistry and community development have really become my life passions,” she says. “Looking back now, I can definitely say those earlier days of involvement and pride in community, no matter where I was, was strongly influenced by my roots in Pictou County. It’s part of what led me back almost nine years ago.”

It was back in Pictou County where Dr. Hill and two friends, Jim Proudfoot and Stephanie Cooper, created Pulse Pictou County, a non-for-profit group dedicated to connecting and creating new opportunities for the young, working age demographic of Pictou County.

A positive place to live

Pulse Pictou County was influenced in part by the Ivany Report: Nova Scotia Now or Never in February, 2014. The report discussed the changes Nova Scotians needed to implement to succeed moving into the future. Dr Hill says there were three central themes that stood out in the report, two of which she and the two co-founding members of Pulse Pictou County knew they could address within their own community.

“The report stated that Nova Scotians needed to address the downturned economy, the declining and aging population and the overall negative morale across the province,” says Dr. Hill.

“We knew we could do something positive for our community and the people in it. Pulse Pictou County could help attract and retain young people in the community and in doing so, we could boost morale and promote a culture of positivity.”

As a firm believer that Pictou County has many accomplishments and stories to celebrate, Dr. Hill knew bringing people together, connecting residents, and welcoming newcomers was what would make Pulse Pictou County a success.

“We have so much to be proud of here,” she says. “We need to share that.”

Pulse Pictou County strives to unite people through social events based in professional development, community initiatives, and athletics and wellness. The group also has a focus on promoting civic engagement, such as hosting candidate debates for the previous federal election, and facilitating community information sessions during the most recent municipal elections.

Dr. Tahmir El-Tahan, a sports medicine Orthopedic Surgeon moved to Pictou County with his wife, Melissa four and a half years ago. Originally from Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Dr. El-Tahan and his wife didn’t know anyone from Pictou County or anything about the community itself.

An avid and passionate player of ultimate Frisbee, Dr. El-Tahan joined the local Ultimate Frisbee League in Pictou County to meet new people. It was there that Dr. El-Tahan first met Dr. Hill and now sits alongside her as a board member for the league. He says its Dr. Hill’s dedication, passion, and energy that have not only made the league a success, but Pulse Pictou County as well.

“It’s an incredible thing to be able to bring young professionals in the community together in a social capacity, but also to do it with the intention of bringing people together with ideas about community development and entrepreneurship.”

He says he and his wife have both benefited greatly from Dr. Hill’s efforts with respect to Pulse Pictou County and credit her and her co-founders efforts with making Pictou County feel like home.

“Nearly all of our friends can be traced back to a social event Dr. Hill has put on through Pulse Pictou County,” he says. “The networking ideas and resulting friendships are one of the reasons that we are truly settled and happy in our small town.”

A healthy community is a strong community

Dr. Hill believes being a dentist in her rural area of Pictou County has provided her with a very special and unique opportunity to not only treat patients, but connect and listen to those individuals who are also her neighbours.

“As a dentist, you see so many people,” she says. “By simply talking to them, you get a true sense of what’s going on in your community and in my case, you can’t help but want to give back.”

Whether through coaching or working with a food bank, Dr. Hill says there are many small ways to get involved in a community that can leave a lasting impact—and recommends it to all.

When asked why she does it, Dr. Hill says it’s simple. “It fills me with joy.”

“I’m passionate about my profession and my community – making it a healthier and better place to live is what I love to do.”