Dr. Les Kalman knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a dentist. While facing a number of hurdles along the way, he persevered to make his dream a reality.
Upon graduating with his DDS degree in 1999, he practiced dentistry for a decade before transitioning into full-time academia. He currently serves as Assistant Professor in Restorative Dentistry and Academic Lead of Continuing Dental Education at Western University.
Les continues to feel humbled by the impact he’s had on his students over the years. “It’s always uplifting to meet a graduate at a dental conference or meeting, and have that individual express their gratitude for your teaching,” he said. “Sometimes it is difficult for the students to appreciate the what’s and why’s of teaching when they’re knee deep into it. After graduating, all the pieces come together, and they start to understand and appreciate the learning process."
Having experienced an economically challenged upbringing, Les understands the importance of helping the less fortunate receive access to care. As past Chair, Les led the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS), a program designed to enhance the student experience while providing free dental care to low-income families. Ultimately, DOCS aims to instill a sense of empathy in students that they will bring forward into their future practice.
Les points out that giving back doesn’t have to be monetary in nature. He believes “lending your time, energy and passion, and using your platform to provide awareness and understanding, so that the dentists of tomorrow can embrace this philosophy” is equally—if not more—impactful.