My New Dentist Life: Giving thanks and volunteering at the ADA Mission of Mercy
It’s the week of Thanksgiving — the week that we find ourselves thinking about the people and things that we are blessed to have in our lives. For some reason, I find myself thinking back to ADA 2015.
I am thankful for many things in my life, including the opportunity to be a dentist — the profession that I have been striving to be a part of for a long time and something that I actually love to do. I never wanted to have a career that I hated just to make a paycheck. And now, as the old saying goes, I will “never work a day in my life.”
It is easy to be thankful for your job when you have a good day, you and your assistants and office staff work well together, and you meet delightful new patients. There are bad days, too! However, even on the roughest day when it feels like everything is going wrong, I still frequently have “aha moments,” where I look down into my patient’s mouth through my loupes and see a glowing circle with the prep that I am doing and realize that this is real life. This is what I get to do every day. I actually did it! It still blows my mind. And I am thankful for that.
So why have I been thinking about the ADA annual meeting, you might ask? Of course I had the opportunity to spend time with great friends and mentors who share my love of organized dentistry while I was there — that is for sure. I also had the wonderful chance to participate in ADA MOM, or Mission of Mercy, on Nov. 8.
In order to participate in the event, since I am not a licensed dentist in Washington, D.C., I had to submit paperwork back in August. I procrastinated a little bit, so by time I signed up, there were only spots in the oral surgery area. I actually felt lucky because extractions are my favorite. And what better way to volunteer than to spend the entire day getting people out of pain?
Despite the fact that we were doing what many would think of as an unpleasant thing (pulling teeth), with the volunteer oral surgeons, general dentists, and assistants that we had, the spirit in the oral surgery area was so upbeat and positive! I pulled 29 teeth that day with the help of two incredible assistants and every single patient was so thankful.
Many patients said that they saw that we were having the event on the news and that they rushed over because their tooth had been hurting them for weeks, months, even a YEAR and they could not afford to take care of it. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a toothache for a year!
The opportunity to give back and help others is one of the central parts of our profession. Participating in ADA MOM helped me to realized two things. 1) I love what I do. 2) I need to volunteer more! I think that we spend a lot of time in our educational careers volunteering because we have to or we think we should. I had several great experiences when I was younger volunteering — doing completely random things that I never thought that I would do. Why not now that I actually have a helpful skill?
I encourage everybody to find a way to volunteer his or her time and give back this holiday season! J
Dr. Emily Hobart is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and an estranged Canadian who grew up in Glendale, Arizona, where she attended dental school at Midwestern University. She is now finding her way as a new dentist in Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves running, rock climbing, pub trivia, karaoke and traveling!