Ali Robaian Alqahtani, B.D.S, M.S., the UF College of Dentistry’s 2017-18 Periodontology Implant Fellow, will soon bid farewell to a college and program that’s meant so much, and also say goodbye to the United States after a seven-year educational tenure that’s greatly affected his professional career thus far.
But he won’t leave without thanking Periodontology Program Director Rodrigo Neiva, D.D.S., M.S., and Chair of the Department of Periodontology Ikramuddin Aukhil, B.D.S., M.S.
“In my dental career, there are few people who I can say have had such an influence on my life and academic career. Dr. Neiva’s family is one of them,” Alqahtani said. “I just want to thank everyone. All faculty, residents, staff and a big thank you to Dr. Neiva and Dr. Aukhil – he is also such a great guy.”
Alqahtani boasts a 14-year dental career. After earning his Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree at King Khalid University, or KKU, and completing an internship in Saudi Arabia, Alqahtani began his venture in the U.S. in 2011 with a clinical certificate in comprehensive dentistry from New York University, then a master’s degree and residency in restorative dentistry at the University of Michigan, followed by a post-doctoral certificate while in Ann Arbor – all under Neiva’s sister, Michigan Restorative Program Director Gisele Neiva, D.D.S., M.S.
Next? The experience of a lifetime in Gainesville.
Working in restorative dentistry at Michigan, and placing flapless implants during several restorative cases, piqued Alqahtani’s interest; he had a strong desire to garner more knowledge and skills in periodontics and implant dentistry.
“I only applied here. There’s not enough I can say to express how professional, knowledgeable and skilled Dr. Rodrigo Neiva is. He has been an amazing leader for all of us,” Alqahtani said. “I knew he was a very talented periodontist, but I didn’t know much about UF until I got here. The UF periodontology program is one of the best in the United States, if not the best. I highly recommend it. I’m really happy with my experience here.”
Through his perio/implant fellowship at UFCD, Alqahtani has focused extensively on implant dentistry while also caring for periodontology patients in the clinic, handling a range of procedures of varying degrees of complexity.
“When dentists from all over the world apply to our advanced training programs, they trust that they will gain clinical and didactic experience that they’ll utilize to provide the highest level of the patient care when they return to their home countries,” Neiva said. “We work hard to fulfill their expectations. What they don’t realize is that we also learn from them, and Dr. Alqahtani is great example of how these internationally-educated dentists enrich our program.”
At the end of June, Alqahtani will take all the knowledge and experience he’s garnered in the U.S. back home to Saudi Arabia to help his community and university. Alqahtani’s stint in the U.S. was made possible by a contract with Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, where he is on faculty. The university supports seven years of educational training abroad, and then Alqahtani will return to academia and teach seven years at the university.
Alqahtani subsequently plans to open a private practice.
For now, he is relishing the remaining weeks left in the U.S. with his wife and one-year old son. He’s made it a point to travel as much as possible during his time here, touching nearly every state between dental meetings and scheduled family vacations.
Come the second week in July, Alqahtani and his family will start the journey home.
“I have very mixed feelings. I’m very happy because I’m going back home to see my family – we are very family oriented – but at the same time I’m really sad. I’ve been here seven years and it feels like my home. I would like to thank my family, whose prayers, support and unconditional love guided me to strive toward the highest of goals. I would also like acknowledge and express my thanks to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the generous support of my education.”
The Alqahtani File
Hometown: Abha, Saudi Arabia
Dental School: King Khalid University – B.D.S.
Clinical Certificate in Comprehensive Dentistry – New York University
Post-Doctoral Certificate – University of Michigan
Graduate Restorative Dentistry Residency Program – University of Michigan
Master of Science – University of Michigan
Future plans: Academia and private practice
Hobbies: Playing soccer, traveling and spending time with family
UF’s periodontics residents participated in the college’s commencement ceremonies in May, but hosted an end-of-the-year celebratory banquet June 16 to bid farewell to this year’s class. Congratulations to our graduating periodontists!
- Matthew Christian Alvarez
- Camille Medina-Cintrón
- Gabriela Vila