31 Oct 2019 | Firas Abu Saleh

Advocating for internationally-trained dentists

Canada’s immigration minister Hon. Ahmed Hussen stopped byt to learn more about the dental equivalency process and the impact it has on internationally trained dentists coming to Canada.

For Prep Doctors, 2019 has been a year of planning forward and laying a secure foundation for the future of internationally-trained dentists in Canada. This summer, we hosted visits from government officials and high ranking ministers, some of whom took valuable time away from campaigning, to meet with foreign-trained dentists and hear their side of the Canadian immigration story. 

On August 24th, we met with Canada’s immigration minister Hon. Ahmed Hussen who spent a couple of hours at our main campus in Mississauga. He toured the facility, interacted with our trainee dentists and took a keen interest in understanding how the dental equivalency process works and what it means to internationally-trained dentists. 

He even sat on an exam station and tried his hands at drilling a plastic tooth. He concurred that it was no easy job! 

Minister Hussen’s visit was followed by more political visits. On Sept 09, we met Hon. Lisa Raitt who was then the deputy leader of the conservative party and a Member of Parliament. On Oct 04,  we met Mr. Parm Gill, MPP Milton. Irrespective of which political party the MPPs, MPs, and ministers came from, they all unanimously agreed that foreign-trained dentists deserve a fair chance at clearing the dental equivalency process and practicing in Canada. There was also unanimous agreement on the need for more health care providers including dentists in remote and rural Canadian locations. 

I was asked by several of my colleagues and by international dentists about what Prep Doctors was trying to achieve with these visits. While most of our conversations were closed-door discussions, I am happy to share that the primary agenda was to educate our government officials about the unique circumstance for foreign-trained dentists. In the past few years, we have all been witness to the volatility of the dental equivalency process and it has been a growing concern among both the participants of this exam, and for us as educators. As a dental education provider, my primary aim is to ensure the continuity of the process so foreign-trained individuals continue getting a fair chance to practice their professions in our great country. 

There was no ask other than lending an ear to the story from the side of those who were going through this process. We also highlighted the efforts we were making with our alumni services to connect our dentists with some of the most lucrative dentistry positions outside of the major metropolitan areas. The remote Canadian cities and towns are highly underserved while the major Canadian cities remain to be saturated markets. The public officials not only appreciated our efforts but their offices are continuing to work with us and connecting us to more agencies and individuals who can work with us to provide the best opportunities to our trainees.

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