Thinking outside the box

Dr. Karin Van Ryswyk is grateful to her own dentist who, 45 years ago, encouraged her to think outside the box and study dentistry. Today, she is in a profession she loves.

What made you decide to pursue dentistry as a profession?

When I graduated high school it was uncommon for women to go to university, at least in my community. But my dentist, Dr. McKewan encouraged me to look beyond my existing plan and consider a career as a dentist. It was all that I needed. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted, and overcome any obstacles in my way.  Although times have changed in 45 years, I relay that same message to anyone who asks, or is hesitant about making such a decision in their lives. I thank Dr. McKewan every day for pushing me to “think outside of the box” so to speak. I absolutely love my profession, the people that I have met because of it, and the lifestyle it has afforded me.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching future dentists?inset-img-200x250.png

We have amazing students; they are intelligent, insightful, talented, and very eager to learn. When you are able to show them clinically what they have learned didactically, it is amazing to witness their “aha” moments.  To see them put all the steps together and have it suddenly makes sense. 

And at the end of the clinic session, to have them come to you and say thank you, I actually learned a lot today makes me know that coming to the School to teach is very worthwhile. Learning is also a two-way street though. Students will sometimes pose a question that I may not have an answer to, or that causes me to think from a different perspective. We all need to learn something new every day.

Who or what inspired you to teach?

After I finished my General Practice Residency, I helped in the first-year operative lab for several years. But with my practice growing and starting a family, I needed to focus my attention on them. I have to give credit to my husband for suggesting that I return to teaching after about 15 years. I had many mentors that also guided me into teaching -   Drs. Jack McLister and Paul Romanson to name a couple. I knew that I had learned a lot through the years that I could pass on to young dentists and hopefully make their lives easier along the way. I felt compelled to give back to dentistry and thereby the community. I have never been sorry for that decision.

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