…a conversation with Dr. Aliki Divaris, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Aliki Divaris, who absolutely loves her varied and exciting role and the autonomy it affords her as she explores the path towards partnership with dentalcorp. Dr. Divaris practices at Creditview Dental in Toronto.
Tell me about your career path, from when you started practicing dentistry to where you are today?
I graduated in 2012 from the University of Toronto and was fortunate to land a full-time position right away in my hometown of Waterloo. It was a large, technologically advanced practice, and the owner was very approachable, so that really helped me grow and rapidly develop my skills as a clinician.
I met my husband who is South African and ended up moving to South Africa for a few months. We ultimately returned to Toronto together, and I started practicing in the downtown core. I got to know a brilliant specialist who took my career to the next level, and he’s the one who put me in touch with dentalcorp. Through discussions about my skills, ambitions, and preferences, we landed on a role in a practice that was essentially two in one: dentalcorp on one side and private practice on the other. That opportunity was at Creditview Dental, and it was perfect for me – it ticked off all my boxes.
What are those boxes? What elements make up your “perfect” role as a dentist?
It turns out that even though I got my start in a large practice and learned a lot in that environment, I actually prefer a smaller setting. As I was the only dentist on the dentalcorp side of the practice, I was able to work almost on my own, which was quieter and calmer, and I loved it. It was kind of like running my own practice. There’s a lot of variety that comes with fulfilling that type of role, there’s some management, problem-solving, lots of excitement – and autonomy, which is key.
In terms of dentistry itself, it appeals to me on many levels. First, I love having that one-on-one relationship with the patients. Second, constantly learning new things is really important to me and with dentistry you have to be continually updating yourself. Third, you need to have integrity, and I feel so good when I know I’ve made the right recommendations for the health of a patient. It’s also important to me to be able to see a project through from start to finish, and dentistry is one of those professions where that is possible.
What sort of challenges did you face getting started at Creditview Dental?
There was a great patient base, but they weren’t keen on change. They’d only ever had two dentists over a span of 30 years, so you can see why they would be a bit hesitant. I gained their trust however, and over time we’ve made some great changes such as acquiring the other side of the practice and adding an Associate. I’m committed to keeping that “family friendly” feel while ensuring we have a plan, and room, for growth.
What does that growth look like?
One of the things we’re working towards is expanding the range of services we offer. Our patients tell us that they don’t want to be referred out – they want us to provide them with an end-to-end experience. We are not large enough to have multiple specialties, but we are trying to offer as much in-house as possible. For example, there is a huge need for perio in our office. It all starts with patient education, however, and even team member education, on the importance of perio. Our efforts have come to fruition and I think there is now enough interest to justify bringing a periodontist on board.
We’re also expanding with Invisalign in our practice. We have an iTero scanner which we use daily and it’s been an amazing addition to our practice.
We talked about the challenges you faced getting started – how about today? Is there anything you struggle with?
I think achieving work/life balance and keeping up with continuing education are both things that any dental professional finds challenging. For CE, you have to take courses to stay current – but taking those courses adds to an already significant workload. Finding the time can therefore present a challenge, however I have to say that with so many DCI courses being offered outside of core hours – that really makes a difference. On work/life balance – this one hits close to home as I had a baby during the pandemic. Finding the right childcare solution can be complex at the best of times – factor in lockdowns, public health restrictions, and a demanding work schedule and you’ve got something very difficult for parents to navigate. Dentistry is a female-dominated profession, so I think we have the opportunity here to lead with flexible and creative solutions for our teams to be able to balance having children and a successful career.
Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? What do you plan to accomplish next?
My daughter is honestly my greatest accomplishment – that goes without saying! But in terms of my career, I’m really proud of the reputation and role I’ve carved out for myself with dentalcorp. I feel recognized and valued for my skills and accomplishments and that feels great. I’m also really excited to have joined an organization while it’s young and developing and be able to contribute to its growth and success.
What’s your 5-year plan?
I’m on a path to Partnership, which is exciting. In my case, in the absence of an acting Principal dentist, I’ve naturally assumed the responsibilities that go along with that role, minus the official designation. In 5 years, I hope to be a dentalcorp Partner with a few practices under my belt. I also plan to continue developing my skills in terms of what I can offer as a clinician.
How has the dental industry changed since you started practicing?
I’d say that dentalcorp is probably one of the biggest agents of change in dentistry. From the beginning, they stood apart from other dental service organizations and I think raised the bar in terms of offering excellence in patient care, leading edge technology, and quality continuing education. In any competitive industry, that’s a sure way to inspire change across the board, with everyone needing to up their game to remain a contender. I think the impact this has had and continues to have on the profession is transformative.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Work as much as you can – it’s how you learn. Find a great mentor and take advantage of everything that’s offered to you through dentalcorp. Take the courses, watch the webinars, join the study clubs, ask questions. I also think dentists starting out need to be conscious of their reputation that they’re creating for themselves, not just as a clinician but also in terms of how you treat staff. It’s a close-knit community, so always be aware of what you’re putting out there because you never know the impact you are having and the impression you are making on others.