In this issue we celebrate all that is dentistry—teaching, research, and patient care—and acknowledge that we’ve made a good career choice. Dental professionals in private practice are experiencing very significant financial rewards. More importantly, however, many in our profession are rethinking their roles in their patients’ health care. As I’ve said before, we are now oral care physicians, not broken tooth technicians.
This month’s cover feature story explores dentistry as a “right” career choice. In particular, the factors that make it a great time to be in dentistry are examined, from the economic to the emotional. We also explore just a few of the challenges that simultaneously present opportunities for an even more exciting future.
It’s Not Just a Profession; It’s an Experience. As a poor kid growing up in a two-family house in New Jersey, there are just some things I never dreamed of. The life I lead today is among them. All of the opportunities I’ve had and continue to enjoy are because of dentistry. From travel to research, income to friendship and a feeling that I can help others, dentistry has provided enrichment for me beyond measure.
Begin with Balance. My private practice sees me as a practitioner. The university sees me as an administrator and an associate dean. The dentists to whom I lecture see me as a clinician and a researcher. It is not easy to throw three balls into the air at once, and it does take a certain amount of energy. But, it’s rewarding and does pro-vide me with a multifaceted career.
I spent a week in Ecuador this summer doing missionary dentistry. My two 17-year-old children joined our group as translators and assistants. I cannot tell you the rewards that this brings—rewards that cannot be deposited in your checking account.
If you feel you need more from your profession, consider where else and how else your profession needs you. Doing so may just provide you with the fulfillment and balance you’ve been looking for.
We are Situational Sleuths. When I was in dental school, there were those who said I would do nothing but look into patients’ mouths all day long, believing that the dental profession would be unfulfilling and unsatisfying. But as clinicians, we’re rarely looking at the same thing twice. Today we may be placing an implant or providing a composite filling on a demanding patient. Tomorrow we may be treating a patient who needs crowns or providing veneers, treating an abscess or performing a periodontal treatment. A good dentist is really using his or her problem-solving skills on a daily basis, because every case requires analysis. Look at the situation; determine the problem and its possible causes; and identify the most appropriate solution.
On behalf of everyone at Inside Dentistry, I hope you enjoy this issue. Most importantly, I hope you continue to enjoy and realize satisfaction from your chosen profession. As always, please share your thoughts and reflections about our editorial coverage with us by sending your letters and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your continued support. And all the best for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!
With warm regards,
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine