Finding your superheroes

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  — Isaac Newton

Dr. Wehking

Dr. Wehking

My interest in organized dentistry began during my undergraduate years at the University of Central Florida where a local dentist, Dr. Pete Lemieux, took special interest in my pre-dental club. As a nerdy science major, that dentist was a superhero in my eyes. I remember being absolutely star-struck when he invited our club to an event to socialize with real life dentists. That night I shared a glass of wine with that dentist who spoke so openly about his journey through dental school and his trials with different associateships. I remember thinking, “Wow, I can actually do this.”

Now that I’m a real life dentist, I still have my superheroes — my mentors — the dentists who are excited to share their successes and failures. They will take you under their wing and let you know that they’ve been through it before. While they seem to have it all figured out, they’re the first to admit that they’ve tried and failed.

Dr. Wehking poses for a photo with her superhero, Dr. Savory (left), and two other dentists.

Dr. Wehking poses for a photo with her superhero, Dr. Savory (left), and two other dentists.

The best piece of advice I’ve received has come from one of my superheroes, Dr. Jerry Savory. He said, “Ah.  To be your age again…” I listened intently, asking him what he would have done differently. He clarified, “I would have done it all the same; but I would have enjoyed the struggle more.” The “struggle” can mean a lot of different things for all of us: financial, relationships, health, employee retention, capturing the perfect impression. It seems like we’re always looking forward to what’s next. “I’ll be happy when…. I get in to dental school; finish my crown requirements; find a job; buy a practice; hire the perfect team; buy a house; retire.”  I’ve been spending my time recently learning to sit back, feel it and enjoy the struggle — the bills, financial instability, broken appointments and crazy schedules. Turns out this is it — life is happening one Class II composite at a time.

You won’t have to search very hard for a mentor. Start doing the type of dentistry and attend the meetings that you love and your mentors will be there waiting. Keep in mind that your mentors don’t have to be older than you! Some of my best mentors are my close friends from the Colorado New Dentist Committee. We are experiencing different parts of our careers at different times and thankfully we are all willing to share our experiences.

We all need superheroes.  Who are yours, what can you learn from them and have you thanked them lately?

 

Dr. Dawn Wehking graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in 2010. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Colorado Dental Association and the Boulder/Broomfield County Dental Society. She was awarded Fellow status with the Academy of General Dentistry.  She finished the Spear Education curriculum, a place where great dentists go to learn how to be exceptional dentists.  She  serves as visiting faculty at Spear Education. Dr. Wehking is also an ADA Success Speaker, teaching dental students about life after dental school. Dr. Wehking owns a small private practice in Lafayette, Colorado. On her days off, you’ll find her and her husband Jeremy with their furry children, enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors.

10 comments

  • Some wonderful advice here. It’s so important to find people that inspire you to continue to improve. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • As a dentist in Salt Lake City, I work with two partners and together they have over fifty years experience. They have both been superheroes to me as I have been practicing. In my first few years and even now I’m constantly bouncing ideas off them about dentistry, patient management, and especially business. My transition to being a full time dentist has gone so much more smoothly with their help. Hopefully we can all be great mentors to are fellow dentists-in-arms.

  • Wow. Thank you. This article is exactly what I needed to read today. You just combined so many pieces of information and bits that I REALLY identified with and needed to hear and internalize today.

    First of all I like how you identify these mentors as your “superheroes” it makes total sense and makes it even more relate-able because even though they are regular people like you and I, they are in fact superheroes to us. The next part of your writing that really hit me was when you wrote about his answer when you questioned him on what he would do differently and he said “nothing, just enjoy the struggle more”. Well, I’m feeling the struggle right now, I’m mildly successful but I always find myself reaching for more and constantly caught up in that as you say… “I’ll be happy when…” mindset…but there’s always another thing. Very powerful writing and exactly what this Portland dentist needed =)

  • Thanks for the encouragement to enjoy the struggle. Reminds me of the butterfly whose wings won’t develop unless they meet resistance.
    Paula

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  • Such a true statement by an incredible dentist who many would consider their superhero. We all need superheroes…to be challenged, to grow…to define who we are individually.

  • Very well put, thanks for sharing

  • This is something that is critically important but I don’t think I’ve ever heard talked about. Thanks so much for this article, we all need superheroes!

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