This month, we shine the spotlight on Dr. Terri Pukanich, General Dentist at Slave Lake Dental in Slave Lake, AB, and dentalcorp’s Partner since 2019. We discuss what excites her most about practicing dentistry, how partnership with dentalcorp provides opportunities to teach and mentor, and how her team is committed to bringing joy into the office every day.
Tell us about your journey into dentistry and how you came into practice at Slave Lake Dental?
I wanted to be a dentist since I was nine because my childhood dentist was one of my next-door neighbours. When I was eight, I had a bike accident and broke off my two front teeth. Although we lived in the small town of Slave Lake, we were able to get an appointment with the dentist on a Saturday who performed two root canals and restored my smile. I was so grateful and knew I wanted to help people the same way. Later on, I had to see the orthodontist who I remember was wearing shorts in the office! I really liked the atmosphere in the practice and thought it would be an amazing job. Although my first attempt at dental school was unsuccessful, I persevered and was accepted three years later in the BSc program at the University of Alberta. My acceptance letter was one of the most pivotal moments of my life, and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would come back to practice in my hometown.
How has partnership with dentalcorp impacted the way you practice?
Partnering with dentalcorp has positively impacted my practice, offering me opportunities I would not have had within the network to teach and mentor. The overall operational support has been tremendous.
What excites you most about practicing dentistry?
At Slave Lake Dental, we understand our impact goes far beyond the four walls of our practice, and we are keenly aware of how we can positively influence those around us. We constantly discuss how we can impact our patients, team, families, communities, and other practices. Dentistry is not "just a job" to us – it's much bigger, and we don't take that responsibility lightly.
What's the best part about being a dentist?
The best part about being a dentist is, by far, the people. I not only have an incredible team that comes to work to have fun, create raving fans, and change how people think about visiting the dentist, but we also have the best patients. I love coming to work every day and hearing laughter up and down our hallways.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
Excellence in patient care means empowering patients to be partners in their oral and overall health care. We give them clear information on their treatment and the solutions we can provide to help them make an informed choice about their dental care. I love to see patients have "aha" moments and say, "Nobody has ever explained that to me before!" We are at our best when the patients are as engaged in their positive outcomes as we are.
What's the best part about being in the dentalcorp network?
I feel like I'm part of one big family. Even though there are many people I haven't met in person, it still feels like I know them. I can reach out and have numerous colleagues offer help in the blink of an eye. It's incredible to feel so supported.
What are some of the ways you stay on top of the latest trends and technologies in dentistry?
I tend to stay on top of trends in dentistry through my social media accounts. I follow a lot of dental influencers and professionals who are at the top of their games. They inspire me to be better and do better, and it's so great to see people share their successes and help us realize what is truly possible in the world of dentistry.
What do you think has been the secret to your practice's sustained success?
The secret to my practice’s sustained success has been my team's commitment to achieving our Vision and staying committed to our core values. Those are my two pillars for longevity in this profession. Without an inspiring, motivating, impactful, vivid Vision, I think we tend to flounder and not experience the true fulfillment and satisfaction that dentistry can provide.
What makes your practice unique?
Our patients and the systems and processes we have in place make our practice unique. Also, happiness is one of our core values, and the team at Slave Lake Dental is committed to bringing joy into our days. Visiting the dentist isn't generally fun, but we make it enjoyable for people.
Tell us about some of the ways that your practice gives back to your community.
Being born and raised in Slave Lake, giving back to this community is near and dear to my heart. Our yearly donation budget is specifically designated for local, grassroots Slave Lake causes. We are big community supporters and advocates of so many programs. This year, we participated in Give Back Smile Back for the first time and are now committed to the program moving forward.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
Create an innovative strategy for your future. Develop a plan that excites you, gives you goosebumps, and motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. It doesn't matter if you are a practice owner, a Partner, or an Associate – take control and write the story of a compelling future in dentistry that drives you. It's important to be intentional about your career as a dentist because it will provide the exciting reality you deserve.