Oral medicine graduate excited to complete a journey that began in Egypt

Dr. Yahya Fiteih, MSc Oral Medicine '20

Jessalyn King - 31 July 2020

Dr. Yahya Fiteih, originally from Egypt, has been very busy since he arrived in Canada in 2012. He is graduating from the Oral Medicine graduate program this month and he is still working on completing a research PhD in Medicine.

Fiteih opened a dental practice in Egypt after his degree, and before he moved to Canada he had finished two years of an Oral Medicine Master's degree program. While here, he studied inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and started a PhD, in Medicine, studying asthma.

In 2017, he applied to the Oral Medicine Graduate program at the U of A.

Dr. Pallavi Parashar, Co-Director of the Oral Medicine Graduate Program, says, "Yahya is a positive, self-motivated person. He has good, professional discussions, never makes excuses and always works through his commitments. We are all very impressed by him!"

For Fiteih, oral medicine is the link between dentistry and medicine that he looked for. He says, "I am the physician of the mouth. We have tactile hand skills from dentistry, as well as the diagnosing and prescription from medicine."

"I love working with patients with chronic diseases like autoimmune conditions or cancer," he says. "When patients come in having pain and suffering their whole life, and I can give them the right diagnosis and treatment, it's most rewarding."

Doing both programs concurrently was an obvious challenge, but Fiteih said that nothing was harder than passing his PhD candidacy exam last year.

But for Fiteih, his patients have made the challenge worth it. He says, "I won't easily forget them. For example, one patient came in with a disease and was very anxious about whether it would be cancer or not. Everything ended up going well, and they liked the treatment and how the clinic helped, so every time they come in, they bring chocolates or flowers for Dr. Parashar and me."

Once he finishes his PhD, Fiteih plans to work outside Edmonton, where fewer oral medicine specialists are practicing.

"It was a very good experience in the oral medicine department here," Fiteih says. "It's a very busy and organized department. I was surprised by how many patients come to the clinic."

Parashar says that Fiteih will be leaving behind footprints and will be missed. "Besides his excellent clinical skills, he was fun to have discussions with, and he had great suggestions about the program."

Fiteih wants to thank Drs. Parashar, Peters, McGaw, Friesen and Hernandez, as well as Dr. Vliagoftis from Medicine.

In parting, Fiteih offers advice to other international students. He says, "Don't underestimate your skills and knowledge. And apply for programs, and maybe you'll be accepted!"