This month, we shine the spotlight on Dr. Alycia Klymkiw, General Dentist at Fort Richmond Dental Centre in Winnipeg, MB. We discuss how she has evolved as a clinician, the importance of forming relationships with patients, and what she finds most rewarding about practicing dentistry.
Tell me about your career path, from when you started practicing dentistry to where you are today?
Trips to the dentist were always a good experience for me as a child. I had a great dentist, and I remember the atmosphere at the clinic being upbeat and enjoyable. I have a journal entry from when I was 12 years old stating that I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up. As I got older, I became interested in the artistic aspects of dentistry. My motivation was my parents, who desperately needed improvement in their oral health. Having been exposed to the negative impact of poor oral health, my decision to become a dentist was solidified. I knew that I wanted to make a difference and help people feel confident in their smiles.
I was accepted into the University of Manitoba Faculty of Dentistry in 2013 and started working at Fort Richmond Dental Centre as an Associate in 2017. Working in the same office since the beginning of my career has helped me grow as a clinician. I’ve evolved from treating minor issues to significant aesthetic cases. I’ve been lucky to practice alongside my father-in-law, and patients genuinely enjoy the family atmosphere at the clinic.
What challenges did you face getting started in your career?
Fort Richmond Dental has been a well-established practice since 1985. It was a fast-paced practice when I joined, and fortunately, Dr. Jack Bassey and Dr. Joan Maclennan have been great mentors. I was a new face, and I had to gain patients' trust and learn to communicate efficiently. Finding ways to explain treatment was difficult at first, but the more patients I talked to, the easier it became. As I transitioned to working on more complex cases, I learned to utilize technology and tools like the intra-oral camera to assist with patient education and better explain treatment options.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
I strive to help my patients understand the importance of good oral health. The most rewarding aspect of practicing dentistry is the relationships I’ve formed. I feel a great sense of accomplishment after I treat a patient with rampant decay, who's unaware of the state of their oral health, and comes back for recalls with significant improvement. It's motivating when patients overcome their fears of past treatment and feel comfortable under my care.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
Excellence in patient care is treating every patient like you would your own family. I personalize my patients’ appointments from the moment I enter the operatory. I take chart notes on my patients’ life events and interests because I know it makes a difference and they appreciate it. It’s important to remember that patients are more than a mouth and a set of teeth to treat.
Of all your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? What do you plan to accomplish next?
I'm proud of the patient pool I’ve built over the last five years. It's fulfilling to see them return for recalls, accept treatment, and take care of their oral health. My next step is to take the Invisalign course offered through dentalcorp. Dentistry is an ongoing learning experience, and you have to stay current to provide the best care possible. I also plan to take a trip to the Kois Learning Center soon.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Start slow, ease into practice. Take your time building relationships with your patients.