A very familiar face has joined the staff at the Blischak dental office in Estevan.
Dr. Cole Blischak has joined his father Dr. Gale Blischak at the office. Cole graduated in June from the dental school at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and started at his father’s practice a month later.
“It’s good to have a mentor that you already know,” Cole told the Mercury. “I’m familiar with the staff and everything, and how things work here. It’s a smooth transition.”
Gale said Cole has been a good addition. It’s been a lot of learning for both so far, as Gale is certain there are some things Cole can teach him, but Gale believes there are things Cole can pick up from him, too.
Cole enjoys the attention to detail that is required in dentistry, and he also appreciates the fact that dentists will never be replaced by robots.
“You’re always going to need a person there,” said Gale. “You can’t just pull up into a machine and get your dentistry done.”
“There’s the stability and predictability. I know I’m not going to be out of a job next month,” added Cole.
Since he arrived, Cole has been learning the ropes of the office, and now that the public health restrictions have been lifted, he’s working in a setting not affected by COVID-19 for the first time in his career.
Cole has a bachelor of science in geology that he earned in 2016. He was planning to work in the oilpatch, but then the price of oil plummeted. He needed an internship at a company to get a job in his desired career path, but that was going to be tough.
It was during his third or fourth year that he started to think about a career other than geology, and viewed dental school as a better option. But it’s a highly competitive school to get into, and he had to go back to school to get some pre-requisite courses.
“Then it’s an application process and an interview process and an aptitude test, and all that kind of stuff,” said Gale.
The U of S is home to one of 10 dental schools in Canada.
Dental school was a good experience, Cole said, but it was stressful, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
“It’s a tight-knit group,” said Cole. “When we started out, there was 28 of us. And then at the start of third year, we got six more international students. It’s a really small class size, so you get to know everyone, and you’re seeing them all day, eight hours and 10 hours a day, and you’re studying with them after.”
The academics are tough and stressful, but the students help each other out.
Gale said he didn’t put any pressure on his son to become a dentist. Cole made the decision on his own.
“I never did want the pressure to say ‘Because I think you should do this or you should do that. He had to find this himself,’” Gale said.
Since he’s been back in Estevan, Cole has seen people he hasn’t encountered very often, if at all, in the past five or 10 years, since he was only in the city during the summer months. His dad’s patients remember him from when he was young.
Gale graduated from dental school in 1987. He worked as an associate in Weyburn for a year and a half, and came to Estevan in 1988 when the opportunity came up to have the dentist office.
The majority of his practice has been on his own, but he has had some associates over the years.
“There aren’t a whole lot of parent-child dentist tandems,” said Gale. “There’s a lot more lately, but it was fairly rare before.”
Gale says it’s been an interesting dynamic with patients coming to the office, and seeing the last name Blischak twice on the door and the sign. But they’re excited to have Cole here.