…a conversation with Dr. Tarek Sharkas, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Tarek Sharkas, Prosthodontist and Implantologist at Country Hills Dentistry in Kitchener, ON. We discussed what challenges he faced adapting to cultural change, the importance of treating patients like family, and what he finds most rewarding about practicing dentistry.
Tell me about your career path, from when you started practicing dentistry to where you are today?
I graduated from dental school in 2004 and was accepted into the Prosthodontic Fellowship program at the University of Illinois. I was in my early 20s, so it was an excellent experience to learn more about different cultures and lifestyles from other students across the globe. I then studied at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in the three-year Prosthodontic Residency Program, earning my Master of Dental Science Degree.
I then returned to my family in Dubai, and practiced for five years in a hospital where I had the opportunity to focus on my specialty and place many implants. I immigrated to Canada in 2016 and taught Prosthodontics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry from 2017 to 2019. During this time, I met a lot of great students and faculty members, and I established many friendships that I am still very close to today.
I worked towards my board certification in prosthodontics in Canada to earn my dental license to practice in Ontario, and in 2019, I started at Country Hills Dentistry. It was my first job as a dental practitioner in Canada, so I'm very thankful to work in this office because I have been trying to establish a prosthodontic practice since 2019.
What sorts of challenges did you face getting started in your career?
Obtaining my license through the specialty board certification was a lengthy and challenging process here, but it allowed me to revisit all the dental journals and textbooks that may have been difficult to revisit otherwise. Another challenge was adapting to different mindsets, especially when dealing with patients. Thankfully, I was raised and worked in Dubai's multicultural, diverse society, which helped me become accustomed to cultural change.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
I find many things rewarding in my field, but if I had to choose, I would say the opportunity to practice prosthodontics because of the drastic change that the patient experiences before and after treatment. The patient's reaction is priceless and the most rewarding feeling — it truly makes my day! I once had a patient who happened to be an adult cleft lip and palate case. After performing a series of bone augmentations and implant placements, the final transformation was striking! When he first looked in the mirror, his reaction was a moment I'll never forget.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
Treat your patients as if you're treating family. Once you have this mindset, I believe you will excel day in and day out and earn your patients' trust.
Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
Relationships take time, and having a relationship built on trust takes even more time. Having a pleasant, stress-free environment is a great practice builder. Patients are very smart and can sense the atmosphere, so ensuring a calm, friendly and welcoming relationship between dental team members helps the patient feel more comfortable and relaxed.
What do you plan to accomplish next?
We always like to explore new dental technology in our practice, such as a 3D printer which makes dentistry more precise and benefits our patients. We also created a "Tooth Compassionate Program" where we offer up to a 25 percent discount on treatment costs for those who have a terminal illness such as cancer, parents of Autistic children, and more.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Don't start your career with money in mind. Establish integrity early on. Always strive to treat your patients as family members. Offer them compassion and the best quality of treatment possible. As you achieve that, integrity and quality of work will become ingrained in your nature, and patients will have the utmost trust in you.