Sitting down with Nima Lighvan for dinner at a local Italian restaurant in London, Ontario it’s obvious that he loves dentistry. With a warm and welcoming presence, Nima chatted about his move to Canada from Iran as a teenager before diving into a rich and varied conversation about the state of dentistry in Canada. Nima is animated in his words and body language as he reflects on completing his studies at Western and what will be keeping him busy in his final year.
This past spring Nima was elected President of the Federation of Canadian Dentistry Student Associations (FCDSA) for a one-year term and, if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he is also the Director of Finances for The Dental Entrepreneurship, Business and Innovation (DEBI) academy.
Nima reflects that after two years of pandemic chaos and navigating classroom and clinic disruptions, “one of the original aims of DEBI was finding new ways to connect and create learning opportunities when students were asked to learn remotely during the pandemic.” However, even as the pandemic has abated somewhat, the DEBI Academy continues to grow and thrive. “DEBI is such an important resource for students and one of my biggest priorities is working to register DEBI as an incorporated non-for-profit business and helping to develop a long-term strategic plan. It’s a lot of work but I get to do it with my friends and classmates including Nima Noyan, who is the current DEBI Founder and President.”
One of DEBI’s hugely successful initiatives has been a podcast entitled The Business of Drilling that covers various topics including how to adapt and navigate the industry, diverse life and career stories from exceptional dentists, and advice for getting started in business. “If you’re a dental student or a fan of podcasts, the discussions are really engaging and it’s so interesting to listen to established dentists and entrepreneurs talk about some of the challenges they’ve faced as well as how they’ve overcome all of them on the path to practice ownership, corporate dentistry and everything in between.”
Nima is a student of different leadership styles, often delving into the academic literature, analytics, and best practices from other industries during his spare time. He has used his time in dental school through tech start-up internships and participation in several dental organizations to gain experience and knowledge that will help his career growth.
He is a strong advocate for addressing health inequities and keeps his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. Like many of his peers he read a recent Globe & Mail article that looked at the increase of private equity investments buying up practices in fields such as veterinary medicine, dental care, optometry and pharmacies and assembling them into chains.
“It’s certainly something that people are talking about,” he says thoughtfully. “Right now, it’s only a small percentage of dental practices but it could be a barrier for new dentists to open their own practice, if they wanted to. But if you ask any of my peers, we ultimately want to find any strategy existing out there that can optimize healthcare provision, because we love helping people to the best of our capabilities.”
Currently Nima is focused on his work with the FCDSA conference scheduled for January 13-14, 2023, in Montreal. “One of the main goals of CDSC 2023 is to reach beyond the fundamentals of dental education with keynote speakers, sessions and workshops featuring subject experts addressing issues of importance to students in all years of dental school.”
“This 500-person conference is less than 6 months away and there’s a ton of stuff to do,” says Nima, “but we have a great team and I hope students from across the country can attend.”
While Nima one day hopes to become an oral surgeon, his sister, Negar is completing her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto and is hoping to attend Western to also study dentistry.
“Becoming a dentist has been tremendously fulfilling” says Nima. “Being accepted to dental school was such an affirming event for me and as I start thinking about the next part of my journey, I’m excited for what’s next,” he says. “I have been extremely fortunate to have a great support system from family and friends and many inspiring teachers along the way.”
Nima is a remarkable young dental student with boundless curiosity, a passion for learning and a love for his profession.