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If you have the privilege of talking to dentist, business owner and mother of four Suzanne Degner, it won’t be long before you hear her talk about how much she loves what she does, and the experiences that got her here.
“Before I was a dentist, I was a registered nurse, and I loved it,” Suzanne explains. “Now I’m privileged to bring all the things I loved most about nursing—the care, the gentle touch, the ability to serve and nurture people—into my own dentistry practice, and I love that even more!”
So it’s no surprise that when it came time to name her own clinic, “Love It Dental” was at the top of her list. “‘Love it’ is more than a phrase; it’s our whole philosophy of care,” says Suzanne. “People come here saying that they hate the dentist, but I’m like, you haven’t even met me yet!” she laughs.
“I want patients to not just get through their appointment—I want them to love it!”
When Suzanne was first starting out, this compassionate approach to dentistry was very much outside the norm. While dentistry is rapidly making strides towards gender parity, many of the attitudes Suzanne was faced with were derived from the old school mentality of a historically male-dominated profession.
“The level of care and compassion I was used to providing as a nurse did not easily translate into the dentistry space,” she admits.
The desire to offer that level of care was a huge driver for Suzanne when it came time to think about opening her own practice. On one hand, it was comfortable to stay at her associate job in her hometown of Edmonton, where she had settled with her family. But on the other hand, opening her own clinic would give her the freedom to run a practice the way she’d always dreamed of.
So, after securing a space for her clinic, Suzanne and her family moved to Kelowna, and she opened Love It Dental in September 2022.
She is the first to admit that her journey was not a linear one. “I had two careers and four babies in between,” she says. “A lot of male dentists my age are starting to look at retirement, but I’m just kicking off the best part of my career. And, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Although young professionals often feel pressure to follow a linear path to success, Suzanne’s experience is much more reflective of a typical modern career trajectory—especially for women.
“Sometimes it’s easy to think you have to have it all figured out early on, especially if you decide you want children,” says Suzanne. “But I’m 49 and still having new experiences, building my career and enjoying being a mom to my wonderful kids. You have your whole life to accomplish everything and anything you want. You won’t run out of time.”