Born To Be a Dentist: Interview with a Military Dental Student, Dan Shirvani

Name: Dan Shirvani, BSc.
Graduation: 2019, Faculty of Dentistry – Dalhousie University
Achievements: 1st degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate, 1st place Prosthodontics Olympics 2017, 2nd place Table Clinics Research Presentation 2018
Future Plans: Residency, honing guitar skills, becoming an amateur chef, travelling the world, helping those in need
Practice Ownership Plans: We’ll see where life takes me!


Dan Shirvani was destined to be a dentist. He is certainly passionate about the path he has chosen for himself—or perhaps it chose him.


My dad always encouraged me to “do what you love”.

He was a doctor and there are others in my family who are doctors and dentists. At an early age I knew they made a difference in people’s lives and I knew I wanted to make a difference too.


By the time I was 15, I knew I loved dentistry.

I had a lot of orthodontic work done as a child, so I was very comfortable in the dentist chair. And I have a cousin who is a renowned maxillofacial surgeon in Germany who was a great inspiration. Dentistry just became a passion for me.


Boot camp wasn’t so bad.

I decided to enter the Dental Officer Training Plan after my first year and it’s the best decision I ever made. They pay my tuition, expenses, and a salary while I’m in dental school and in return I commit to three years providing dental care to the armed forces on base, which I may extend to do a residency.


The military has taught me so much.

I have learned organization, discipline and how to pay attention to detail, which are all necessary to be a great dentist. And it teaches you to always stay on top of yourself—to strive to be better.


Life in dental school is like an EKG.

There are so many highs and lows. It changes you. And strengthens you. The advice I would give any new student is to focus on the present. You’ve got to if you’re going to get through. And you have to be able to adapt.


It’s about the patients.

When things get tough, which is often, seeing the expression on a patient’s face gives me an immediate high. I’ve had patients pat me on the back. Even hug me. It’s tremendously satisfying knowing they’re happier when they leave my care.


I won the draw for the iPad!

It was at the first CDSPI presentation I went to at Dalhousie. Winning was cool, but they also really opened my eyes about being smart with my finances. So I reached out to their financial planner in Halifax, Dana Scott.


Dana was very thorough.

We started with a lot of discussion about short and long-term goals. Then she showed me some projections about how to achieve them, including different risk scenarios. Since I’m earning an income, I’m maxing out my RRSP and my Tax-Free Savings Account every year and I’ve committed—in writing—not to touch it until I’m 65. As for the short term…


I have a dream home in mind.

It’s a custom, energy-efficient home with a gym, a theatre, and lots of room for the things I love to collect. I’m aiming at 37-40 years old, so Dana helped me figure how much I would need to save using a  non-registered account. She also helped me understand there will occasionally be losses when markets fluctuate, but in the long run I’ll have the growth I need.


CDSPI is with me every step of the way.

Dana is always available when I have financial questions… which is often. I love that she’s not biased by commissions so she can focus on my best interests.


CDSPI insurance is also a big plus.

I got a medical and took the Optional Upgrade Package with my student Insurance, which gives me a 50% discount for three years after I graduate. After that, we’ll sit down to look at my needs and go from there.


"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

Albert Einstein said this, and I love it. My imagination has been my greatest inspiration. If you can’t imagine yourself achieving dreams, they’ll never become reality. I’ve imagined my future each step of the way… and then put the effort in to make it a reality.


I love what I do.

The more I practise dentistry, the more I know I made the right choice!