Dr. Bohdan Hrynyk and his wife, Tamara, are the new faces at the newly named Pelham Hills Dentistry, on Pelham Street in downtown Fonthill. Locals may have noticed their new sign, erected in December on the former Sawatzky Dental building.
Last August, the pair bought the practice from long-established family dentist Dr. Ken Sawatzky, who currently remains on board two days a week to assist in the transition. Hrynyk’s enthusiasm for community is already making an impression on the team’s current 1,800 patients.
“If my patients are happy, I’m happy,” says Hrynyk. “I like this area so much. It’s a nice, quiet community area that needs good general dentistry…I feel we can provide the best care we can without the pressure from areas like Toronto.”
The couple met when Bohdan visited Canada in 2008, where Tamara had already been living for five years. They married a year later, and Bohdan immigrated to Canada after graduating from Ukraine’s Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University.
Initially, the couple felt apprehensive about how Bohdan would pursue his lifelong dream of owning his own dental practice in Canada.
“When he finished dentistry school in the Ukraine, one of the concerns he had was that it would be very difficult to become a dentist in Canada because he was internationally trained,” says Tamara. For Hrynyk, there were two avenues for obtaining a dentist’s license in Canada after being internationally educated and trained, Tamara explains. One may seek out direct licensing by writing a series of exams, or one may repeat a portion of their education by attending a two-year Canadian dentistry program specifically designed for those already trained abroad. These programs are few and far between (with only two available in Ontario), and highly competitive.
Of roughly 400 applicants, only 20 students, internationally trained, are admitted annually say the couple.
“He made it his goal to go to school so he could get familiar with the Canadian way that dentistry works,” says Tamara, “and just to learn from a different perspective. Not just to become accredited, but to learn it through the [Canadian] school system. It took him quite a bit to get there, because the competition for foreign trained dentists is really tough. There are only three universities in all of Canada that have that program.”
Dr. Hrynyk graduated from the University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2016, shortly after he and Tamara moved to Niagara Region.
After spending a few years as an associate dentist for clinics in Niagara Falls and Welland, Hrynyk settled down in Niagara Falls.
“We knew we wanted to raise our family in a smaller city more open to community life,” says Tamara. “That’s why we moved to the Falls. You actually get to know your neighbours, your community, and get involved.”
Now the busy parents of two children, the couple are happily settled as they watch Pelham Hills Dentistry grow.
When Hrynyk had the opportunity to take over Sawatzky’s practice, everything appeared to fall into place.
“It was a life changing thing,” says Tamara.
In the new name, Pelham Hills Dentistry, locals will recognize the geography of the region.
“[The name] also represents the area that we serve. Region of Pelham—Fonthill, Welland, Fenwick, all of that is incorporated,” says Tamara. “The patients are very welcoming. We are very fortunate in the way they have been accepting us. They seem to be very open and friendly.”
The couple attribute the success of the transition to their own love of such a welcoming community and an emphasis on family.
“I’m really comfortable,” says Hrynyk. “Being young, we have the enthusiasm, the energy to implement all this stuff. New stuff that’s happening right now in the world of dentistry you try to implement at your clinic. Patients eventually can feel that and they like it. They can feel the changes for the better.”
Hrynyk says that he’s of a younger generation of dentists, one that’s focused on a “new, progressive” dentistry.
“More digital dentistry, more advanced procedures, implants, etc. We can usually deal with any kind of issue without referring to a specialist.”
Hrynyk is still currently accepting new patients and encourages those who seek him out to bring the whole family, and expect a friendly and thorough level of care.
“Bohdan brings in his personality,” says Tamara. “He likes to speak to his patients, get to know them, make sure they are comfortable talking about their dental health…He’s not just here for the dentistry. He likes to hear about their family lives, hobbies, things like that.”
Despite their initial struggles, the couple first encountered as new Canadians, Tamara’s advice to anyone facing similar challenges is clear: “Believe in your dream. You will have a lot of obstacles…but you just keep trying. Have that goal in front of you and just work for it.”
Pelham Hills Dentistry can be contacted through their website at pelhamhillsdentistry.ca, or by calling 905-892-5002.