Kakkar graduated this spring from the University of Saskatchewan (USask’s) College of Dentistry International Dental Degree Program (IDDP), a program that allows students who have already earned a dental degree from an institution in another country that is not recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in Canada to complete a Canadian Doctor of Dental Medicine program in two years.
“USask College of Dentistry has a great reputation as a clinical program, which made me choose USask over other dental schools,” said Kakkar. “I have been very lucky to be a part of the first ever IDDP class, no one will ever be able to take that away.”
Originally from India, born and raised in the small town of Jalalabad in the northern part of India, Kakkar completed his dental degree in India in 2007. In the two years following the completion of his dental degree, Kakkar owned and worked in a private practice before travelling to Australia to complete a two-year diploma in dental technology at the Holmesglen Institute of TAFE in Australia.
Upon completion of his diploma, Kakkar returned to India where alongside a team of dentists from his multispecialty clinic he focused on making a difference in their community. Their outreach efforts catered to thousands of patients and took two distinct approaches to oral health care: prevention and—in response to the lack of prevention in the community—providing free dental health care for the elderly.
“I was deeply enthusiastic about reaching out to these communities, which made me deeply honoured when I was selected as one of nine health-care providers from India for a Chinese outreach program entitled ‘India-China Joint Medical Mission’ in 2014,” said Kakkar.
Kakkar spent seven years as the head of this multispecialty clinic, before his continued quest for knowledge took hold again and he travelled to New York to shadow Dr. Janmeet Grover (DMD) in 2015.
“I was highly impressed by Dr. Grover’s evidence-based, patient-centered clinic and became convinced that an advanced standing program could give me the desired personal and professional satisfaction and become the next platform to increase my clinic knowledge and experience,” said Kakkar.
With that, Kakkar spent 2018 travelling between Ontario to study for the National Dental Examining Board’s Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK) exam, and India, where he continued to run his dental practice.
After successfully completing his AFK exam, Kakkar began applying to North American schools for international dental programs. He received his first interview invite from USask. He attended the interview and was accepted in the program. He officially entered the IDDP program in June of 2019 to become a member of the inaugural class.
While they have had to adjust to cold Saskatoon winters, Kakkar and his wife have seamlessly settled into life in Saskatoon and intend to continue to call the city home after his graduation.
“We have really started liking the City of Saskatoon, my wife has a really good opportunity here where she loves working and my daughter has made great friends at school, which made us decide to purchase a house in Saskatoon,” said Kakkar. “People in Saskatoon are super welcoming; I truly feel privileged and honoured to be here today.”