Learner Perspectives: Dental student Vlad Podskalniy on improving access to oral health care


“I want to know what we can do to alleviate the burdens, the discrepancies, and how underserved populations can receive dental care in a world where it’s privatized. Maybe we can’t start with huge leaps, we may need baby steps.”

Vlad Podskalniy, Dentistry Class of 2023, has some ideas of where to start.

Working with Dr. Sharat Pani, Podskalniy has spent the past two years trying to capture a fuller picture of the specific barriers to dental care, and subsequent impacts on oral care outcomes, faced by different population groups in London, particularly those who are marginalized and underserved.

Among the many contributing factors that create inequities in dental care access, each underserved societal group faces its own unique challenges, something Podskalniy understands firsthand. As a young child, he immigrated with his family to Canada from Ukraine, and witnessed his parents rebuild their lives and find their place in a new home.

“Now, I'm coming from a perspective that's incredibly privileged, but there’s a lot of people that don't have the level of opportunity, despite similar circumstances of immigrating here,” he said.

Looking beyond general factors impacting access, such as financial status, the research attempts to define the nuances of why different people have certain outcomes in their oral care. This includes factors such as language barriers, opting out of preventative treatments or lacking knowledge of subsidized dental services.

“My interest in research is motivated by wanting to become a better clinician for my community. The research is a tool to connect to the population base that we’re trying to serve, and I think that is extremely valuable,” he explained. 

What he finds most exciting is that this is a tool that could be used by all dentists within their practice, offering opportunities to create targeted outreach and supports according to each community’s needs. 

“The ultimate dream would be that every clinic owner can use their billing data from their practice and see the discrepancies in the populations they serve.”