The reason I chose to go into a profession is that I had seen too many women, who due to lack of education, widowhood or life dislocations due to wars or other circumstances end up in marriages of convenience with partners that abused them or whom they did not love or respect.
I wanted to ensure my independence, or at least assure myself a livelihood should I find myself in a situation where I had to support my children and myself. But I also know that a 9-5 “job” would leave me numb and frustrated. 1961 was an era in which women were expected to be homemakers and mothers,dress nicely for the husband when he came home from work, make sure the children were quiet and the meal was on the table so that he would be able to relax from his day at work.
Many of my friends looked at me as “weird” and somewhat “presumptuous” when decided to go into dentistry. I went into dentistry in1961. When I walked into my first class, as one of 6 women in a class of 148. This was the largest number of women in a dental class in the history of dentistry in Ontario.The discrimination was brutal.Certainly not something that would be tolerated in this day and age. We were frequently “reminded” that we were taking the spot for a breadwinner and probably wasting it since we were going to get married, have children and “retire” from dentistry – robbing a man of a chance to provide for his family. I remember in my first year, in a class called “Dental Materials” we had to take an impression of a model, then pour it up in stone to make a copy and have it marked by an instructor before we could go to the next step.After waiting in line for ½ hour for the demonstrator, he grabbed my model, threw it across the room where it smashed and glared at me.
When I asked what was wrong with it, he said “Nothing. But you should not be here. You belong behind a kitchen sink.” My payback was when he Academy he was in the audience GLARING at me when I was the first woman in the world to be granted the Mastership of the Academy of General Dentistry. (Interestingly at our 25th class reunion, none of the women had retired, while many of the men were no longer working.)
After dental school I interned at 2 Toronto hospitals to get my confidence, and gain experience. What an experience to work as a dentist in a busy downtown hospital clinic and Emergency room. Everything from smashed up jaws to a man with a leach in his mouth trying to heal his infection. So when I started associating in an office in Mississauga and joined the staff at the South Peel Hospital (Now Trillium Mississauga) I ended up with all the medically complicated and surgical patients being sent to me.That was challenging for a young dentist, - a baptism by fire- but at least my expertise was being recognized rather than being put down for being a woman. In1969 opened my own practice in my home, so that I could be “home for my children” (with the help of a housekeeper).Within 6 months I was 6 months booked.Those days there was a shortage of dentists.
I feel for the dentists now who have to, find ways to compete and struggle to keep their appointment books full so they can pay off the debt burden of a professional education, and the gargantuan investment into equipment and supplies of a dental office plus support a family. For 42 years, I enjoyed being “my own boss” learning and growing more and more holistic in my practice.Much of my postgraduate education was on whole body health and how dentistry affected it. When in 2008I retired, I still wanted to contribute Since my interest had been natural health, I qualified as a doctor or Integrative Medicine, and began to help people solve their “Mystery Syndromes.” When they had “been everywhere and done everything“ and still felt sick, they would seek me out .
We would “dig for all the clues” :toxicity, digestion, nutrition, drug reactions, structure, hidden infections, family history, travel, occupational and environmental factors, acupuncture meridians and so on.After some natural therapies, detoxing, eradicating infections, restoring the immune system, they would no longer suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or headaches, or pain or fatigue. That is how I got dubbed “the Health Detective”. Now I have a Wellness practice at the Sawiak Integrative Wellness Institute.
I have written 3 books, spoken at many health shows and seminars, been a presenter at summits and conferences around the world , launched an App called the Health Detective and now I am transitioning into the online world with courses and webinars; teaching, mentoring and coaching professionals and families online. Guess I will never RETIRE, because I love what I do and love helping people overcome their health challenges. Dr. Sawiak Is a RetiredBiologic dentist with a passion for health education and wellness.After retiring she achieved her Doctor of Integrative Medicine and now sees clients at the Sawiak Integrative Wellness Institute where as the“The Health Detective” she unveils clues to clients’ illnesses and helps them back to health.
Dr Oksana Sawiak