…a conversation with Dr. Mitchell Hanna, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Mitchell Hanna, who shares with us his passion for smiles and sports. Dr. Hanna currently practices with Riverside Dental of the Mayflower Dental Group in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into dentistry?
I grew up here in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. When I was very young, I probably had the same dream a lot of Canadian kids have, which was to play in the National Hockey League. But I learned pretty quickly that that wasn’t going to happen. I think it was in high school when I started to focus more on wanting to do something in the medical field. I knew I was interested in the health profession in general, but I wasn’t really sure which route I wanted to take. I landed on dentistry after doing some shadowing with various healthcare professionals. What appealed to me about dentistry was the combination of hands-on work, helping people, and being able to work in a team environment. These were probably the main factors that made it the right choice for me. I did my undergrad in science at Cape Breton University and went on to graduate in dentistry from Dalhousie in 2019.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
There are a lot of aspects of dentistry that I find rewarding, but for me what it comes down to is improving the situation for the patient – whether that’s helping them with pain in an emergency situation or improving the patient’s function for eating for example, or doing work that helps them with esthetics and their smile – in any of these cases, it’s about working with the patient to ensure they leave the office happier than when they came in, and to me that’s very rewarding.
What do you like do in your spare time?
Outside of dentistry, I coach with the Cape Breton University Women’s Soccer Team. It’s a great opportunity to not only give back to the game of soccer which I played growing up, but to be part of one of the top university soccer programs in the country. Year after year, despite being a small school, we put together a top-notch program and it’s an honour to be part of that coaching team. I also play a lot of golf. Sports are a big part of my life. I come from a “sports family” – both parents and grandparents being athletes – so sports have helped shaped who I am and have given me a lot of leadership skills along the way.
Can you tell me a bit about what it’s like to be an Associate with dentalcorp?
I graduated from Dalhousie in 2019, so I’m a relatively new member of the team. There are certainly benefits to being part of a group. Being part of an organization like dentalcorp, you have access to an enormous number of resources – not just fellow clinicians, but resources on the business side of things, such as marketing and other areas. Having that kind of support makes things a lot easier. I love practicing dentistry, and it’s great to be able to focus on doing just that. For me it works well - I’m enjoying my time with dentalcorp.
How has the pandemic impacted you and Mayflower Dental?
Our group was selected as the designated emergency clinic for eastern Nova Scotia, and I was the lead dentist for that clinic, so it was my responsibility to train the other dentists as part of our group, and coordinate with the dental board of Nova Scotia to provide emergency care during the pandemic. In the province, there were only a select few practices that were open to the public for emergency care, so it gave me the opportunity to take on a leadership role working in that clinic.
And you personally – what have you been doing to cope during these unprecedented times?
The pandemic has definitely been a difficult time for everyone, and I’m just trying to make the best out of the situation. I’ve started doing things I haven’t done before. I’m lucky to live in an area like Cape Breton, where there is scenery to enjoy and trails to hike. And while we can’t travel too far right now, I am able to get around the island and take advantage of all the great things we have.
What’s your 5-year plan?
I’d like to develop a lot of new skills. Having only graduated a year ago, I have a solid base on a variety of skills, but I’d like to expand the treatments that I’m able to provide, and also the comfort level that I have with those treatments. Through continuing education, I’d like to be able to provide a wider range of services to my patients. Also, in five years I hope to have built a strong patient family by deepening my relationships with my patients, with an eye to having a sustainable practice for the long-term.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
The advice I have for new graduates is that you’ll probably learn more in the first year in practice than you did in your four years of dental school. There are real life situations that the institution simply can’t prepare you for. I’d also tell them to trust their skills, and that it’s ok to have questions, and to not know all the answers – use the resources you have available to you, like the dentists in your practice or in your community.