You have an incredible passion for organized dentistry. Having been involved for many years, ultimately reaching the AGD’s highest office, can you tell our readers what has inspired you to take this journey?
Simple, I have been part of the most empowering experience in healthcare. Making a difference in the lives of others is at the root of what most healthcare providers aspire to do, and my involvement in the AGD has allowed me to do that at another level, where I can advocate for the profession of dentistry and improve continuing education for veteran and novice dentists alike. Education is the enabler of society, and dentistry, with its open approach to delivering care, is at the top of healthcare efficiencies and innovative providers. I wanted to make sure that I help maintain and improve in any way I can to preserve this section of healthcare so that it works for generations to come.
Education is empowering! Everything that the AGD stands for is still based on general dentists helping each other by sharing knowledge to help the patients we serve. I think it is the most giving of all professions.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become more involved in organized dentistry?
Look within yourself and see what special talents you have and are willing to share with others. Expose yourself to the different organizations that exist around you and decide which one makes you feel at home. When you are with like-minded people you feel empowered by the synergy we experience in our own families. I have friends in the AGD that are every bit as important as some family members. They have shared my most successful moments as well as the most challenging ones. This sharing of similar professional and life experiences brings us together with brothers and sisters of other races, religions and genders that if it were not for a group like the AGD, we would never have the opportunity to experience.
Having two children who are successful practicing dentists can you share some of the advice you gave them that could help other new dentists just starting out?
Listen more than you talk, ask from those you see succeed, learn from those that have failed and only enter this profession if you have a genuine interest in helping others. You can make a living at many other careers and professions. Dentistry changes lives and should never be delegated to a financial transaction. It is a very generous profession but outside forces continue to make it more challenging every day. I fight for the rights of General Dentists to be able to practice based on their education because it is the only profession that still depends on self-initiation to provide better care while always putting the patients first.
I never told my children to join this profession, but they grew up meeting the people I knew and they saw the people I treated and the lives I changed, which may have planted the seed that later on germinated in three of them getting involved and doing it at a high level. It is not enough to do something if you do not do it to the best of your abilities.
The AGD has long been a leader in the field of dental education. Can you tell us about some of the new and exciting opportunities currently available?
We have created new and flexible ways of accomplishing your educational needs by expanding on what is taught in dental school, bringing in new and relevant topics to practicing dentists, such as in the areas of business, new trends in the treatment of sleep apnea, diagnosis and treatment of occlusal diseases, opportunities to learn what is needed at different stages of your career and, most critically, the diverse methods we use to provide blended learning. We combine our hands-on approach with web-based learning with custom lengths and formats to meet the needs of everyone. You can have a 70-year-old who is keeping up with the latest in bonding next to a 26-year-old who is trying to decide if polyvinyl is better than optical impressions.
We are the road that fulfills present and future needs throughout your professional life.
Many of our readers don’t realize the critical role the AGD plays in advocating for the general dentist. Could you tell us a little more about this?
Without the AGD, general dentists would be doing very little other than filling cavities. Requirements and education get more demanding every year while other entities advance the alternative delivery models with diminished requirements and expanded duties that result in an unnecessary two-tier delivery system that has proven to fail on its own merit. Dentistry continues to be the most efficient delivery of dental care in the world because in the US and Canada we have instituted a team-approach system that provides the best and most efficient care. Why new legislation continues to espouse otherwise is beyond me, but we continue going to DC to let them know the other side of the story.