New dentist relishes role as state dental association leader

Working together: Dr. Amrita R. Patel (second from right) poses with Dr. Rekha Gehani, ADA President-elect Chad P. Gehani and New Jersey Dental Association lobbyist James Schulz at the 2018 Greater New York Dental Meeting.

Chappaqua, N.Y. — Dr. Amrita R. Patel didn’t have much of a choice when she became a part of organized dentistry’s leadership.

Her father, Dr. Rohit Z. Patel, had been involved in local and state dental societies for decades. When he heard about an opening on the New Dentist Committee of the New York’s Ninth District Dental Association in 2013, he did what any doting father would do.

He signed her up.

Not only that, but she immediately became vice chair, due to be chair the following year.

“I hit the ground running,” Dr. Patel, a general dentist, said with a laugh.

Dr. Patel

Since then, the 2011 grad of the New York University College of Dentistry has held multiple positions within her local and state dental societies, including current chair of the New York State Dental Association New Dentist Committee and delegate to the state association’s House of Delegates, becoming a believer in the benefits gained by being a member of organized dentistry. New dentists tend to be underrepresented in leadership, and Dr. Patel strives to bring these voices forward. In fact, the New Dentist Committee was behind an initiative that led to new dentists receiving voting positions on NYSDA councils.

“Dentistry can be myopic, and that often happens in the profession,” she said of silos. “But being a member of an association allows me to develop personal connections and other points of view that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Continuous learning in how to run a successful practice is part of the catalyst for why she continues to be in an association, she said.

“We get trained really well as dentists, but not so much in practice management,” Dr. Patel said of dental school.

Getting involved isn’t always as easy for others as it is for the junior Dr. Patel, she admitted.

“Opportunities exist,” Dr. Patel said. “It’s just a matter of taking the first step and joining before you are asked. It’s important to have a seat at the table. Dentistry is not just an office — it’s a profession, a career.”

To get involved, reach out to your local or state dental society or your ADA New Dentist Committee representative.

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