Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Michel Comeau, Principal Dentist at SouthWest Dental in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. We discuss his journey into dentistry, the importance of lifelong learning, and his appreciation for his team, who go the extra mile.
Tell us about your journey into dentistry and how you came into practice at SouthWest Dental?
My mom worked as a dental receptionist, so I was exposed to dentistry as a young child. But it wasn’t until I got braces and began to visit the office regularly that I became interested in dentistry as a career. Although it took me a couple of attempts, I was very thankful to be accepted at dentistry school at Dalhousie University. After graduation, my wife Beth and I headed back to my hometown of Meteghan, Nova Scotia where we bought an existing practice in Yarmouth which we later transformed into SouthWest Dental. The original practice had one dentist, one registered dental hygienist, and three operatories. In 2004, we bought another location and renovated it to include eight-operatory clinics that now include three dentists, four hygienists, and several part-time specialists.
How has partnership with dentalcorp impacted the way you practice?
Partnering with dentalcorp has allowed our practice to benefit from the latest technologies like Axeos CBCT, CEREC, Primescan, and an up-to-date sterilization centre. With the support I receive from dentalcorp, I’m able to focus on patient care and maintain my clinical autonomy at my practice.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
To me, excellence in patient care means providing comprehensive care to each of my patients. It means always assessing treatment options using the WIDIOM (Would I Do It On Myself) principle and ensuring that each treatment plan fits the individual patient’s needs and preferences.
What's the best part about being in the dentalcorp network?
The last couple of years have been arguably the most challenging time in our industry for decades. During a crisis like the pandemic, dentalcorp’s resources and leadership have been invaluable as a source of reliable, timely information while providing a stability that would be hard to match outside the network.
What are some of the ways you stay on top of the latest trends and technologies in dentistry?
Being a DC Institute mentor and study club leader allows me to stay on top of the latest trends and technology in dentistry, as I learn from newer dentists just as they learn from me. I also continue to prioritize my own professional development with continuing education while I run my practice.
What do you think has been the secret to your practice's sustained success?
It's important to surround yourself with good people. When life presents challenges, such as COVID-19, team shortages, or challenging cases, knowing that your team has your back and vice-versa is really helpful. A culture of life-long learning has also helped us move forward and stay relevant while continuously striving to deliver the best patient care.
Tell us some of the ways that your practice gives back to your community.
My wife Beth, myself, and many of our team members volunteer as coaches, committee members, and board members in numerous local organizations, and our practice is involved with dentalcorp’s Give Back, Smile Back program. I'm proud to have a work-family made up of leaders who go the extra mile. We even have specialists drive three hours from Halifax monthly to our practice so that our patients do not have to travel for treatment – so those specialists are literally going the extra mile.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Surround yourself with good people, learn continuously, and find a good mentor. I think it's important to join programs like the DC Institute's Associate Development Program to ensure you’re part of a community of care and achieving goals that will position you for continued success. I’d also suggest that it’s important to master the basics of complete dentistry before moving on to complex cases, implants, and esthetics. Also, be a good listener because it will help you be a better diagnostician for your patients and a better leader for your team. Remember to pace yourself – it's not a sprint. Always live a balanced life, and don't forget to smell the roses. Lastly, plan for the future and leave a legacy!