Alumni Services

James O’Donnell

Edinburgh Dental School graduate James O'Donnell looks back on a fulfilling career in dentistry in his home city.


James O’Donnell


BDS Dentistry

Year of Graduation 1967

Your time at the University

James O'Donnell

I have lived in Edinburgh all my life and my first choice was Edinburgh Dental School. My uncle graduated from Edinburgh before the war (LDS RCSEd) and because of his love of dentistry and his character and strong work ethic, I wanted to emulate him.

All teaching staff, preclinical and clinical, seemed to me to have a true vocation to teach and my contemporaries and I were very fortunate to experience such wonderful people.

Our dean, Professor John Boyes, left a lasting impression on me. He was at home with literature and music as well as general surgery and dental surgery and he wanted, above all, for his students to be men and women of good character.

Your experiences since leaving the University

In my day there was no vocational training arrangement in place as now and so you learnt “on the job”. I worked in two dental practices in Edinburgh and learnt much, since it was common to see upwards of forty patients a day.

In 1970, I started my own dental practice at Liberton, with no patients and this prospered and is progressing well with Richard, my youngest son, working there as an Associate Dental Surgeon.

I did start and develop three other Edinburgh practices and eventually sold each of them to the dentist associate practising there.

I always enjoyed general practice, treating whole families and helping to develop the staff members who worked and still work for me. My practice manager has worked for me since 1972 and my senior receptionist retired last year, after working at Liberton for 39 years.

I retired from treating patients in 2003 but I still enjoy visiting the practice every week to see my wonderful staff and some old patients for a chin-wag.

Additionally, I obtained the MGDS (Member in General Dental Surgery) Diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, by examination, in 1985. Subsequently, I was asked to be an examiner for that exam in the Royal College of Surgeons, which I did for some years until I retired.

​​​​​​​I always enjoyed general practice, treating whole families and helping to develop the staff members who worked and still work for me.

James O'Donnell

Alumni wisdom

Enjoy your days at Edinburgh University. It is a wonderful institution, in one of the world’s finest cities.

Work hard at your studies; play sports; respect your teachers and enjoy each day because soon your studies will be over and you will, hopefully, enjoy, with your family, the day of graduation.

Related links

Edinburgh Dental Institute