Giving back: Drs. Ensy Atarod and Jeff Dykes give an oral health presentation
to Austin students as part of Dr. Atarod’s leadership project.

New dentist reflects on Institute for Diversity in Leadership

Giving back: Drs. Ensy Atarod and Jeff Dykes give an oral health presentation to Austin students as part of Dr. Atarod’s leadership project.

Giving back: Drs. Ensy Atarod and Jeff Dykes give an oral health presentation
to Austin students as part of Dr. Atarod’s leadership project.

Austin, Texas — As Dr. Ensy Atarod makes the transition from being a “new dentist” to a dentist, she looks back at her time at the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership as transformative.

“As a new dentist I knew graduation did not mean the end of learning, but what dental school failed to tell us was as dentists we are involuntarily forced into a role we have no knowledge of: a team leader,” said Dr. Atarod, a 2005 graduate of Creighton University School of Dentistry and a member of the institute’s 2010-11 class.

Dr. Atarod

Dr. Atarod

“Along with the title of doctor we become automatic role models and leadership is thrusted upon us. My participation in the institute was an experience that changed my dental career. It gave me the effective training to be a better leader.”

Dr. Atarod’s leadership project during her year at the Institute was to spur outreach by the Capital Area Dental Society of the greater Austin, Texas, area. She led volunteer dental professionals to 35 elementary schools. “I wanted to provide a program that educated low-income children on both dental health and nutrition and at the same time engage the dentists of our society in a volunteer effort,” she said.

The project led to impressive results: more than 7,770 first- and third-graders were taught about oral health care through Dr. Atarod and her colleagues’ efforts.

“I believe we all need to give back,” Dr. Atarod said. “It is something I learned early on as a core value from my parents, it was taught in Creighton’s dental school and modeled by peers in the Institute. The most important part is to share with others the gift of dental health.”

The institute, founded in 2003, is designed to enhance the leadership skills of dentists who belong to racial, ethnic or gender backgrounds that have been traditionally underrepresented in leadership roles.

“The Institute for Diversity in Leadership gives an opportunity to those who have not traditionally represented the ADA to have a voice to the organized dentistry and bring a unique perspective to the organization,” said Dr. Atarod, a Houston native now working for the St. David’s Foundation, one of the largest school-based charity mobile dental programs in the country. “I know I was inspired and empowered by the program to create change as a leader and make an impact in our community.”

To learn more about the Institute, click here.

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