…a conversation with Dr. Vanessa Shewchuk, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Vanessa Shewchuk, who discusses the importance of lifelong learning and how it’s critical to trust in your abilities in order to develop as a professional. Vanessa has been an Associate with Apple Dental Care in Edmonton for the last four years.
Tell me about your career path, from when you started practicing dentistry to where you are today?
My father was a dentist for over 45 years, so I was exposed to dentistry from a young age. As I got older, I began to spend summer breaks working in his practice, doing mostly sterilization. It helped me gain an appreciation for each person’s role in the office, and it affirmed my interest to become a dentist.
I graduated from the University of Alberta dental school and began working in two practices part-time, which kept me busy and helped me experience how different practices were run.
I have been with Apple Dental Care for over 4 years, where I have been lucky enough to treat many of my father's former patients, as well as have a wonderful mentor in Dr. Cindy Neufeld.
What sort of challenges did you face getting started in your career?
I am naturally a people-pleaser, so I had to learn to not give in to patient expectations for on-the-spot treatment plans when it came to complex cases. Part of that was learning to communicate that I could create a better result if I took the time to look at things more thoroughly before presenting options.
Another challenge I faced was prioritizing time to take care of myself so that I can keep working for decades to come. Part of that came with learning how to work smarter, not harder.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
I love watching patients become actively engaged with their oral health once they have proper education. It is also so rewarding to affect how people feel about themselves by improving their smiles. I love that dentistry is a mix of science, art, and psychology. There's nothing better than when a previously terrified patient tells you they now feel totally comfortable in the dental chair.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
It means taking the time to properly educate patients so they can make the best decisions for themselves and helping them understand their role in the longevity of what we do. Excellence means keeping up to date with the latest evidence-based research, products, and technology, and helping your entire team be educated so that we can provide the best overall care for our patients.
Excellence in patient care basically means doing everything necessary to be worthy of the trust that patients put in us.
Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? What do you plan to accomplish next?
I'm proud of the amount of learning I've accomplished in the 4 years since I've graduated. It’s enabled me to include aspects of dentistry that I really enjoy practicing such as neuromodulators, Invisalign and myofunctional orthodontics. Next, I want to take more training that will enable me to take on larger prosthodontic cases.
I'm also really looking forward to when we can start to travel! During dental school, I was able to go on a dental mission trip to Peru, and I'd love to get a few more of those experiences under my belt once it’s possible.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Be confident in what you know and even more confident in what you don't know. It’s just as important to work on your communication skills as much as your clinical skills and to lean on the team around you to leverage their expertise.
Be open to change, because as we've seen in the last year and a half, there are certain things that are beyond our control, and we must keep adapting so that we can continue giving our patients our best.