Dr. John Suljak: Embracing a new professional journey


Meet Adjunct Clinical Professor Dr. John Suljak. He regularly teaches students in the clinic, and often gives presentations to upper year students through the University of Western Ontario's Dental Student Society lecture series, covering topics related to dental anesthesia.

Although he began teaching just a few years ago, Dr. Suljak is not new to the Schulich Dentistry community. He earned his DDS degree from the School in 1995.

He went on to complete a Diploma in Dental Aesthesia at the University of Toronto, where he first experienced teaching undergraduate dental students.

Until 2019, Dr. Suljak owned a dental clinic alongside his wife Dr. Ninetta Scolieri – also a Schulich Dentistry alumna – in Waterloo, Ont. While he still practices as an associate dentist, the decision to move on from clinic ownership allowed him to pursue teaching, and also become involved with the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. He spoke to us about embracing this new chapter in his professional journey.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching future dentists?

Being around students can be so motivating and energizing. They are smart and eager to learn. What more can you ask for in a day? And it is personally rewarding that I can pass on my knowledge to someone.

What have you learned from students?

I have learned that current students generally take a more holistic approach to care.  I wasn’t expecting to see that when I started teaching at the School two years ago.  But when I thought about it, today’s dental students are generally more mature with more life experience than the students of my generation. 

Who or what inspired you to teach?

I’ve always enjoyed the academic environment, which is partially what lead me to complete the Dental Anesthesia postgraduate program at the University of Toronto. As a resident, I did a lot of teaching of both undergraduate dental students and dentists.

So many people have inspired me, but Dr. Daniel Haas, who is the current Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto and is a dental anesthetist, stands out as he was such an excellent teacher during my postgraduate years.

Can you describe your role as an RCSDO Practice Monitor?

A Practice Monitor works in the Professional Conduct and Regulatory Affairs department at the RCDSO. I help dentists improve specific skills after completion of mandated coursework, review records and make recommendations for improvement.

I wanted to get involved with the Royal College to learn more about the regulatory side of dentistry, and as an organization, the RCDSO has a lot to offer.