Dr. Omer Malhi graduated with his Doctor of Dentistry degree from Dalhousie in June 2016 and moved with his wife and two children to St. John’s, where he joined Village Dental Office.
His journey, however, began in Pakistan in 2012. Already a qualified dentist, he immigrated to Mississauga before joining the Qualifying Program (QP) at the Faculty of Dentistry in 2014. All internationally trained dentists must go through two years of training at a dentistry school to be licensed to practise in Canada.
So far, so normal. What blindsided Malhi, however, was how much he loved it here.
“I realized that Eastern Canada is a totally different place from Mississauga, and I knew that I was never going to leave here,” he says. “In both Halifax and St. John’s I have found people to be open, kind, and caring. When opportunity knocks, as it did to bring me to Halifax, you have to accept.”
At Christmas 2016, Malhi and his family introduced first year QP students Kashish Kohli and Krissy Singh, a married couple from India, to Newfoundland life and the benefits of practising there. “I told them that eastern Canada marked a new start in my life and that its values are close to my heart. It is a good place to raise a family.”
Advice for new graduates
Always smiling and friendly, Malhi was popular with students, faculty, and staff alike. From his vantage point of one year out, what advice would he offer this year’s graduating class?
“I would tell the class that Dal has a good reputation in Canada and that they will have no issues about getting a job. Dal Dentistry students are regarded very highly,” he says.
Once they are in private practice he strongly recommends developing empathy for and rapport with their patients. “When patients trust you, you will have your most successful treatments and your patients will be loyal to you.”
For QP students, he advises being open to possibilities. “We tend to gravitate to people with our backgrounds, but I say that we have come all the way to Canada, so we need to open up, mingle, get involved. QP students should also consider working in places other than the main cities. I think we have more fulfilling clinical experiences in the smaller places.”
What does he wish he had known when he first arrived at Dal Dentistry?
“I didn’t appreciate the whole educational experience at first. Being at Dal was not just about gaining clinical knowledge. I was already a dentist, so it wasn’t clinical skills I lacked. It was the culture and customs I needed to learn about. I learned that I needed to show my weak side, to overcome my fears and ask questions, even about small things. It brought me closer to people and gave me a sense of belonging to Dal and to Canada.”
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