Q&A: Dr. Bruce Terry, full-time dentist, part-time mountaineer

Peak: Dr. Bruce Terry holds the American Dental Association flag at the summit of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica.

Peak: Dr. Bruce Terry holds the American Dental Association flag at the summit of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica.

Dr. Bruce Terry is best-known around the ADA for bringing the Association’s flag to the highest point in Antarctica. At home in his Pennsylvania community, Dr. Terry is recognized as a kind-hearted dentist and tireless mountain climber. We caught up with him to hear about his love of climbing and why he believes all dentists should pursue a hobby.

Q: What inspired you to bring an ADA flag on your climb in Antarctica?

A: Most of my fellow climbers brought a banner or flag supporting a cause or sponsor. I thought it was most appropriate to bring along an ADA flag because I am one of their biggest fans.

Dr. Terry

Dr. Terry

Q: Why did you become interested in climbing?

A: I am an Eagle Scout and have loved the outdoors since I was young. My wife read an article about a man who climbed Mount Rainier in Washington. He was a middle aged weekend athlete – he said he both loved and hated the climb. My wife gave me the article and said, “Happy Birthday, you will love this!” After years of recreational backpacking near home I tested my endurance with a climb of Mount Rainier. It was a fantastic experience of learning, training and climbing on snow, ice and rock. I was hooked.

Q: What has climbing added to your life?

A: Each time I climb I learn about a different part of the world. I can now say that I have been on all seven continents. But the real joy for me is the journey from start to finish – training to be at my best physically. Climbing is a test of mind and body. Some days are not so good. Other days are fantastic.

I also enjoy meeting an international group of people with similar interests, as well as local people, whether it’s in the mountains of southern Russia or the jungle of Indonesia.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for dentists to have hobbies?

A: I think that all dentists need to do something outside of work. We are a patient’s healer, fixer, psychologist and friend. Getting outdoors allows me to see the big picture of life. I would recommend all dentists develop a hobby, because practicing dentistry can be stressful. I love dentistry and don’t get burned out. I suspect it’s because I do so much outside the office.

Q: What are your hobbies other than climbing?

A: I travel with my family – I love to see the looks on my daughter and son’s faces when they see new things. We rock climb and ski together, and tour major cities and learn about others.

I am also active in organized dentistry and have helped with our state’s Mission of Mercy. I am a Boy Scout leader and teach at Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry. I really don’t have enough time in the day for everything I want to do.

Q: What advice would you give to new dentists?

A: Dentistry is a path to other things. Whether it’s sports, philanthropy or growing as a person, we all need to have interests outside of the office. Work is good, but too much can have a negative impact. Enjoy your family, community and take care of yourself.


  • I retired but I am not happy not productive. We are snow birds. I want to go back to dentistry, but I am more scared . Have any ideas on how to get back part Time? DR Joe C.

  • Alekhya Patagarla

    It was so interesting to read through your hobby and inspired me to continue with mine, painting. You are so very right about having a hobby outside dentistry as it gets stressful sometimes. May you have more such joyful moments in your life.

  • My name is Alan and I am a general dentist in ‘burnout recovery.’ Kudos to Dr. Terry for reminding us “it’s the climb.” Dentistry is what we do, not who we are. I benefit, as my patients do, from my participation in organized dentistry and non-dental hobbies. Engaging in outside interests makes me more focused in the office. By taking care of myself, I have more to give.

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