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