As a new dentist and someone that believes in organized dentistry, I have participated in volunteer work locally and nationally. Of course, there’s plentiful opportunities to serve: setting up continuing education, coordinating networking opportunities, engaging members, offering dental services…an endless list of work that is needed to continue the work of the ADA and its components. (As a side note, if you want to get involved, I encourage you to reach out to your local society for available opportunities.)
But in a world consumed by all things dental, I began to seek something outside of dentistry. During a periodic exam, one of my young, female patients stopped me and said, “Being a member of Junior League would be a good fit for you.” I went home that night and after thinking, do I really need to join one more organization, I did some research.
The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Their core values are ones that they live by, not just hang on a wall: Diversity, Collaboration, Community, Empowerment, Leadership, Respect and Service. Junior League was not only something I was interested in, it was something I believed in and wanted to be a part of.
And five years ago, I became a member of Junior League of Las Vegas. My patient was right—it was a good fit. Volunteerism is a rewarding way to give back to your community and express gratitude for the opportunities that have made you successful in life, both inside and outside of dentistry. But what I was yearning for was to be a part of an organization that not only inspired women, but one that was inundated with powerful, strong, smart, women who were making a difference in their community, and making you their partner and friend along the way. More importantly, it was a network of people that were aligned in their goals to uplift women while also elevating their community.
Over the years, as a member of Junior League, we have taught kids about healthy eating, prepared homeless adolescents for jobs or their GED test, packed Thanksgiving meals for those less fortunate, awarded education grants, sorted donations of food and clothes in Las Vegas. The volunteer work is fulfilling, but it’s the friendships I’ve made with other incredible women that make me most proud to be a member of Junior League. And although volunteer work in organized dentistry is one of my passions, I’ve learned that it’s healthy to engage in opportunities outside of dentistry that broaden my scope of life, community and sense of being.
Dr. Emily Ishkanian is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and practices general dentistry at Flores Family Dental and Green Valley Dental Center in Las Vegas. She is a member of the ADA, the Nevada Dental Association and the Southern Nevada Dental Association. She is active in organized dentistry nationally and locally and created Southern Nevada New Dentist group to help new dentists ease the transition into dental practice. She is also involved in volunteer work in her community. Dr. Ishkanian obtained her D.M.D. degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine in 2010 and practices as a general dentist in Las Vegas.