Specialist Spotlight – Dr Vandana Katyal, Orthodontist

Dr Vandana Katyal is a Specialist Orthodontist, practice owner based in Sydney’s lower north shore, and founder of the BOSS Orthodontic CPD program. Dr Katyal completed her BDS in 2001 at The University of Sydney and worked as a general dentist. She then continued her studies with a Masters of Science in Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology) in 2010, followed by earning a Doctor of Clinical Dentistry in Orthodontics from The University of Adelaide in 2013. Following the foundation of the BOSS Orthodontic CPD program, Dr Katyal hit the books again, and is currently completing her MBA.

Being a leader in the field of clear aligner orthodontics, she is highly experienced in delivering the latest, most efficient and most comfortable invisible orthodontic treatments. At Dental Head Start, we had the pleasure of meeting Dr Katyal to hear her story and learn from her wealth of experience.

DHS: When did you know you wanted to specialise, and how long did it take for you to make it happen?

I pretty much knew I wanted to learn more about Orthodontics while in was in dental school and by final year I had no doubt I wanted to follow that specialisation path. Reality was that I had just graduated and I wanted to gain a variety of experiences under my belt (and some travel!) before I decided to specialise. It took me eight years before I commenced specialist orthodontic training and in no way I regret this wait as it taught me so much about general dentistry. I also did continuing education courses in orthodontics while practicing general dentistry and finally sought a position working alongside an orthodontist in Sydney, which helped me immensely to help me finalise my decision.

DHS: Do you miss anything about being a general dentist?

Oh I miss it SOOOO MUCH! It was fun seeing families and getting involved in their oral care on a routine basis. I enjoyed constantly learning new things and techniques in so many areas of dentistry. I remember distinctly feeling a certain loss when I got into the orthodontic specialist program at The University of Adelaide as I was going to now give up all these skills I had developed over several years in my general dental practice. I have a confession though… don’t think I miss endodontic treatments!

DHS: What are the single best, and worst, things about working as an Orthodontist?

Single best is being able to give this amazing confidence to smile for my patients without  requiring extensive aesthetic restorative work or even braces. It’s so rewarding to see them smile confidently in photographs at the end of treatment and to know how you have changed their lives is motivational. Its so important to understand your patients unmet emotional needs and not just their chief concern. I love to deliver the right solution for their lifestyle and for their emotional need tailored to them. The worst would be it often takes anywhere form 6-24 months to see the results for both your patient and yourself! This can be frustrating for impatient peeps (me included!). I get so excited for my patients that even I cant wait to see the positive emotional effects such as improved smile confidence it will have on them. 

DHS: Why did you decide to start the BOSS program?

I believe knowledge is meant to be shared and that learning is enhanced for all parties when its interactive. I also believe and know such education helps dentists learn their scope better and give the best care to their patients. You can never be too over-dressed or over-educated!

When I was a general dentist wanting to learn more about orthodontics I enrolled in a few CPD programs at the time and I felt that none were able to guide or mentor dentists comprehensively to deliver simple to moderate orthodontic treatments well. After graduating from specialist orthodontist degree I met dentists who were in similar situations as I was years ago. BOSS started as a small study club in Sydney in 2015 and the feedback that we received was overwhelming in a short time. Positive reviews and word of mouth has grown it immensely. Today, BOSS is a standout orthodontic CPD course in the industry which is modern and teaches the latest in orthodontic advances and techniques to dentists and orthodontists.

DHS: Business ownership is an area we as dentists aren’t taught anything about, yet so many dentists run their own business. Is ownership something you’d recommend, and do you have any advice for those hoping to be their own boss one day?

My answer to this is YES by 1000% for those who have energy, time and a tireless desire to innovate daily. However this is not an easy exercise and requires hard work beyond your clinical hours. An advantage of business ownership is you can create environments to suit your vision, your why, your mission. Business ownership is about being entrepreneurial and finding ways to deliver extraordinary value to satisfy our patients needs. In doing so you build customer relationships and equity. My favourite part of my business is the opportunity I get everyday to create a high performing team and deliver high quality treatments and exceptional experience to our patients.

DHS: Do you have any advice for dental students or new grad dentists who may be considering specialising in the field of Orthodontics?

Number 1 – Just do it! You will never regret it. There is no CPD course that comes close to what a specialist 3-year fulltime degree can teach in the field of orthodontics. Make sure that you look at the application process carefully. Apply to every university if you can and be open minded.

Another advice is that you should visit all the different departments of orthodontics across universities in Australia and New Zealand to get an understanding of their curriculum, teaching styles and expectations. Be well prepared for interviews, practice role-plays with friends and understand your “why” because you will be asked why you want to specialise in orthodontics at every interview.

It’s going to be tough financially and professionally but You Can Do It ??. If you are passionate about it, it will not feel like “work”. I would be truly honoured if anyone gets inspired to go specialise in Orthodontics after reading this!

DHS: Is there a particular clinical tip you’ve learnt over the years that you wish more new grad dentists knew?

Go Digital! Invest in digital scanner, a good photographic camera and start your patients smile transformation journey with customised clear aligners. Then combine this with virtual appointments and 3D tracking via Dental Monitoring. You will love this new way of delivering orthodontics and your patients will be your biggest fans!

I would also like to share a non clinical tip. Never stop asking for feedback after every clinical appointment, from your staff and colleagues. Seek feedback not only for your treatment but also for your service you’ve provided as well. A simple question like “How was your visit today? What can we do better to make sure we are delivering our service and treatment to your satisfaction”. Seek to understand before being understood. Feedback is what has given me my direction in both my clinical practice Clean Clear & Correct Smiles and BOSS. Feedback is what shapes the future of all my professional endeavours. An essential ingredient. Good luck and know we can change the world … a smile at a time :))

If you’d like to learn more from Dr Vandana Katyal, follow her on facebook @breakthroughwithboss or check out what courses she has on offer at http://www.breakthroughwithboss.com/

David is a recent graduate dentist working in private practice in regional NSW, Australia. Read more at www.dentalheadstart.com/meet-david/

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