For this month’s Partner Spotlight, we caught up with Dr. Divya Balakrishnan to discuss her journey to dentistry and partnership, the importance of relationship building, and her advice for dentists looking to progress in their careers.
Divya currently practices as a principal dentist at Sutherland Dental in Saskatoon.
Tell us about your journey into dentistry. Did you always want to be a dentist?
I have always been fascinated with science and the human body. In my first year at the University of Saskatchewan, it became clear that studying physiology could combine both of these interests, so I pursued it. I lived with my sister throughout my undergraduate program, during which she completed medical school and started her general surgery residency. My late father was also a surgeon who practiced in Nipawin, Saskatchewan for almost 30 years. I always thought that medicine would be my fate as well. I applied to both medicine and dentistry upon completing my degree but was waitlisted by the College of Medicine. I was, however, admitted to the College of Dentistry with a four-year academic scholarship. At the time, a career in dentistry felt daunting and unfamiliar, given my family’s medical background, but I believe there was a reason for this particular turn of events. I accepted the offer and have never looked back. I feel privileged to practice dentistry and to belong to this profession.
Tell us about your career path at Sutherland Dental and how you came into partnership with dentalcorp.
After my final year of dental school, I was planning to move to Alberta, so I only applied and interviewed for jobs out there. I had an offer for an associate position just outside of Calgary, but I just could not bring myself to commit to the move. My family was still in Saskatchewan and my gut was telling me to stay in Saskatoon. Associate positions weren’t readily advertised at that time, so I reached out to a Henry Schein rep on Facebook. He told me that Sutherland Dental might be looking for someone, so I tried my luck. I was hired as an associate in 2013 and was immediately taken under the wings of my seasoned peers and principal dentists, Bernie, Carolynn, and Tim. After five years of their continued mentorship and guidance, they offered me the opportunity to become a dentalcorp Partner, which I officially accepted in 2019. I feel fortunate to be a part of a team invested in my growth.
What makes Sutherland Dental unique?
It all comes down to the people at Sutherland Dental. That’s what sets us apart. My partners have over 30 years of experience practicing the art and science of dentistry, as well as running a successful business. Having their mentorship and guidance has been monumental in my career and I consider myself lucky for each and every day I get to learn something from them.
Our team members are the heart and soul of our office. They are extensions of us and truly care about our patients and our practice. We relish in our successes, embrace change, and better ourselves – together. Our patients can feel this sense of family that our office exudes, and that is what keeps them coming back after all these years.
What is the best part about being a dentist?
The best part for me has been the relationships I’ve formed. From patients to team members, being able to interact with people from all walks of life is humbling. It is also rewarding to see the progress that can be made over time for patients to feel more comfortable and confident. It is no secret that a dental office isn’t everyone’s favourite place to be. Being able to work as a team to create a positive patient experience that keeps them coming back is very meaningful.
What advice do you have for other dentists looking to progress in their careers?
Seek to join a practice that invests in your development. I was fortunate to join a practice that invested in me and allowed me to practice all aspects of general dentistry. I was able to hone in on the skills and procedures that I enjoy, while being mentored and pushed outside my comfort zone to expand my abilities. The field of dentistry is ever-evolving, so it is important to stay current. Attending continuing education and professional development courses is a career-long goal of mine. The road to now has not always been easy but persevering through the difficult times has taught me just as much as, if not more than, my successes.