President’s Message – September 2018

Giving as a Dentist

We, as dentists, have “given” not only to ourselves and our families, but to many other people in various ways throughout our careers. How much “giving” to help some people detracts from “giving” to others?

We have been “giving” long before we became dentists. Prior to college we dedicated time and much effort into deciding upon, and pursuing, a career in dentistry. As dentists we are competitive. We competed with others and ourselves to attain superior grades and excel at succeeding. We are task-oriented and have mastered the skills of our profession. Leadership (and decision making) skills also develop with this process. Other people seek our guidance not just for dental treatment, but because we are well-educated leaders. Evolving as a dentist took time. Time…that is the most precious personal commodity! At what point is time something you give versus something you lose?

Categories of giving may be quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative giving means giving “stuff”, i.e., money, equipment, supplies, medicines and other items that you can see and touch. Qualitative giving includes a myriad of unseen emotions: Caring, dedication, anguish, toil, sweat, elation, and happiness (only to mention a few). Then there is time…a combination of both. Whereas it is easy to measure the extra time needed to complete a dental procedure for a patient, how do you measure the time you worried about a problematic patient, or contemplating how you are going to pay your bills or retire someday? At what point is volunteering altruistic (helping the poor), or becomes a distraction from responsibilities (not helping your partner with a requested task or companionship)?

Here is how we give, and have given:

  • A lot of time studying, learning skills, and developing our professional careers as necessary imperatives to render dental care to our patients.
  • Sharing our knowledge with persons who seek our guidance.
  • Donating money to persons, organizations, and almost anyone who asks.
  • Participating in many kinds of civic, religious, and community organizations.
  • Providing free services ranging from whole days working for charities to not charging a patient for an x-ray.

You now see the point of this essay…we “give” a lot in many ways with, perhaps, not actually realizing that we are “giving”. We should give as a balance of helping others without burdening our businesses or families. When giving becomes a burden, then it is time to rethink our priorities.

Importantly, giving to organized dentistry is, in reality, not a donation but an investment in ourselves and our future. Please participate in our Dental Society, and contribute to DENPAC. Your other “giving” depends upon it!