White Coats Are a Special Symbol of Knowledge and Leadership

Recently, FDA Vice President Dr. Dave Boden spoke to students at the University of Florida College of Dentistry White Coat Ceremony. We post his remarks here as a gracious reminder to all to continue to grow professionally and apply all you’ve learned as you care for your patients, and to strive for excellence every day. Thank you, Dr. Boden!

Good morning everyone! I want to thank all of you for inviting me to help your faculty confer upon each of you a doctor’s white coat. This is a particularly happy occasion for all of us in this room. The energy and enthusiasm of all of you is palpable. This is why we all love teaching pre-doctoral undergraduate dental students.

However, I must caution you. Your acquisition of this white coat is not free. You must earn it: Every. Single. Day. It is a special symbol of knowledge and leadership.

The man who first popularized the White Coat Ceremony some 25 years ago, Dr. Arnold Gold of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, did so because he felt “A physician’s responsibility is to not only to take care of patients, but also to care for patients.” Presenting the white coat was a way to impress upon medical, and now dental students, the importance of applying all their learned knowledge to establish and promote the health and well-being of the patients they will see for the rest of their careers as doctors. For those of us who are faculty and practitioners, it is our symbolic, solemn, yet joyful way of initiating your pathway through corridors of learning containing the knowledge of thousands of years and countless doctors before us.

Just what knowledge do you need to become a doctor? Anatomy? Physiology? Pathology? Pharmacology? Certainly. Anything else? Actually, that is a trick question. The answer is EVERYTHING. For a thousand years, doctors have been honored by their patients as the keepers of special knowledge. Your charge, starting today, is to absorb it all. I can assure you that in modern dentistry, you will use every bit of it sometime in your career, even the material that today makes your eyes roll. Physics, engineering, math, finance, psychology. But also, philosophy, language, literature, art, music, religion. In fact, everything you have experienced since kindergarten: from your classmates and friends, your church, and most importantly, from your greatest teachers— your parents and family. Yes, that is a lot to ask. But everyone you treat depends on your knowledge, and your ability to use it … honorably.

Honor. A concept that seems to have faded a bit recently. But oh-so-necessary if you are to be called doctor. This is symbolized by this pure white coat. For not only are you seen as a repository of vast knowledge, you are also rightly perceived as a trustworthy and responsible leader. You must be in order to gain a patient’s trust to accept your often-invasive care. Honor, trust and responsibility are concepts we really cannot teach you. In fact, these qualities were continuously bestowed upon you by everyone you have interacted with since you were 6 years old. However, we can, as your mentors setting good examples, show you how not to lose them. We always worry about that, because it is all too easy to succumb to temptation. Your patients and colleagues will be perceptive and harsh judges. Once honor and trust are lost by irresponsible action, you will not regain them.

But let us be positive. You are already leaders. You have already demonstrated that by gaining acceptance to this incredible institution. Some of you already have started a family. The concept of leadership and responsibility will penetrate deeply the first time your young son or daughter ask you, “How do I do this, Daddy/Mommy?” You will discover that while leadership can be daunting, it is also very rewarding, because it allows you to have a positive impact. Whether that is with your family, your staff, your community, or your profession. The good news is that it isn’t really that hard. Just remember these basics:

  • Maintain the honor of your profession. All the rest of us are linked to everything you do. Be responsible to your patients and the public. Always.
  • Lead your family and your office team. They look up to you, depend on you, and will support you endlessly.
  • And finally, respect and honor your college. In a great institution like the University of Florida, you will have the opportunity to gain and embrace the knowledge that will make you an outstanding doctor IF you reach for it. I can assure you; you will NOT be spoon-fed in this school. Now go out there and get it and accept nothing less from your professors and yourselves.

From the Florida and American Dental Associations, congratulations on your beginning!

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Dentists Back Grant’s Loan-repayment Bill

By Alexandra Glorioso, POLITICO Florida

A trade group representing dentists is backing a bill from state Rep. Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte) that would revive a defunct loan-repayment program for dentists who see low-income patients.

Florida has had difficulty providing dental care to Medicaid and other low-income patients, a problem that’s particularly acute in rural areas.

The Florida Dental Association believes the problem is rooted in geography. The measure filed today, FL HB465 (19R), would encourage recent dental graduates to work in less-populated areas, such as Immokalee outside Naples, in exchange for having loans repaid by the state.

“The reality is that there are Floridians with unmet dental needs and nowhere to go, and that is an urgent issue we are working to address,” Dr. Jolene Paramore, president of the dental association, told POLITICO in a statement.

Paramore said the program could get off the ground in six months since it’s been implemented in Florida before. The bill would repay loans for 10 dentists each year at a recurring cost of $500,000 a year.

“If the proposed dental student loan repayment program is implemented for five years, more than one million patients will be treated by participating dentists during that time,” Paramore said.

In addition, the bill would establish a volunteer program that would contract with the Dental Lifeline Network to provide dental care to low-income patients for free.

This article was published on POLITICO Pro on Jan. 23, 2019 and can be found here.

How to Pay Off Your Dental School Loans

By Christy Rakoczy, Student Loan Hero

Dental school is really expensive, with the average debt for dental grads topping $261,000. Of course, while the shocking size of the bill might be obvious, how to tackle repayment isn’t always as clear.

The good news is, however, that by getting organized and taking a proactive approach, it’s possible to get dental school loans paid off more quickly than you might think, while still accomplishing your other financial goals. To achieve this feat, just follow these five steps.

1. Figure out exactly what you owe.

First and foremost, you need to know exactly how much your student loan debt is. You may have both federal student loans and private student loans, and may owe money to multiple lenders. You need to have a clear idea of to whom you owe and what your loan balances are, so you can decide how to pay back your loans.

You can use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to find out about your federal loans and obtain a copy of your credit report to identify your private student loan lenders. List your loans, the names of your lenders, the interest rate on each loan and the total balance. This will help you later because you may decide to prioritize paying higher-interest private loans before sending extra money to lower-interest federal student loans.

2. Track your spending and make a budget.

Once you know how much you have to pay, you’ll want to figure out what funds you have to accomplish the task. This means budgeting. “The easiest way to tackle debt repayment is to stick to a budget that you’re comfortable with,” advised Keri Danielski, consumer finance expert and spokeswoman for Intuit’s money management tools, Mint and Turbo.

Of course, you’ll want to get an idea of your expenses in order to make a realistic budget. “To manage your money when dealing with school debt, you need to take an honest look at where you’re spending your money,” Danielski said. “It can be surprising to see where your money is going when you see all your finances laid out.”

If you track your spending for around 30 days, you’ll identify areas where you might want to make cuts. This helps you to develop a budget that’s reasonable and based on your lifestyle, leaving you with some spare cash to put toward loan repayment and other financial goals.

3. Decide how much goes to dental school debt vs. other priorities.

Once you have a budget, you can determine how much money to allocate toward your dental school debt and other priorities. “Include at least your minimum loan payment into your monthly budget,” advised Leslie Tayne, debt resolution attorney and managing director of Tayne Law Group P.C. “Even if you’re simply paying the minimum, meeting due dates prevents late fees from racking up and your credit score from plummeting.”

Once you’ve taken care of paying the minimums, Tayne said, you could earmark some extra cash for your dental school debt. However, she cautioned that you should pay off your highest-interest debt first — which might be credit cards or personal loans, rather than student loans.

Tayne also advised not putting so much cash toward paying dental school debt that you forget other key objectives, such as saving for retirement or buying a home. “Balancing your other financial goals is important, particularly after your higher-interest loans are mostly paid off,” Tayne said. “Setting aside at least 10 percent of your income toward retirement is advisable.”

4. Look into all your repayment options.

When you owe a lot of money for dental school, you need to investigate all of the repayment options that the federal government or your private student loan lender has available. Choosing the right repayment plan ensures you pay your dental school loans within an appropriate time frame, while also keeping your monthly payments comfortable.

You have a number of choices beyond the standard 10-year repayment plan, including various income-based plans that cap your payment at a percentage of your disposable monthly income.

“Most loans will automatically enroll you for a 10-year repayment plan, which can result in incredibly high payments,” Tayne said. “Consider changing to an income-driven plan to help pay only what you can reasonably afford.”

If you’re working in a public service position, you also may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which would allow you to have the remaining balance of your loans forgiven after 120 on-time payments. Some dentists who provide low-cost medical services in underserved areas might potentially qualify for loan forgiveness.

5. Consider consolidating or refinancing your dental school debt.

Another option that may make sense is to consolidate or refinance your dental school loans. Consolidation is done through the Department of Education and it involves taking out one big, new consolidation loan to repay other existing federal student loans. You won’t lower your interest rate because your new loan charges interest based on a weighted average of existing debt. But you can reduce the size of your payments, since your consolidation loan offers more repayment options, including longer payment terms of up to 30 years. You’ll also simplify your repayment if you have just one loan to pay instead of many.

Refinancing is another option, and in this case, you’ll get a new loan through a private lender to repay your existing federal or private debt. By comparison shopping among student loan refinance lenders, you may be able to lower the interest rate on your debt when you refinance. On the downside, you’ll give up some borrower protections that come with your federal loans, including loan forgiveness and income-based plans. Still, reducing your interest rate could be worth it, as this can reduce your monthly payment and result in your paying less interest over time.

If you owe a lot, you’re not alone.

While dentists often have particularly high loan balances, student loans are a major problem for people across many professions. In fact, Americans owe more on their student debt than on credit cards — a massive $1.48 trillion as of 2018.

It’s frustrating to cope with owing so much, but these tips can make the repayment process easier so you can move on with your life as a practicing dentist without lingering debt.

For more information, please go to studentloanhero.com.

Chew on This! with D4 Will Baldock

Filmed in a single shot, the FDA asks intriguing people what they like, what they don’t and that fascinating middle ground that defines them.

We visited the University of Florida College of Dentistry and met up with D4 Will Baldock. Want to know what his hip-hop stage name would be? Click below to find out!

32 Questions with Will Baldock from Florida Dental Association on Vimeo.