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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How to Maintain Wellness in the Dental Profession

By Christopher T. Cooper

Dentistry is a tough profession, with long hours punctuated by difficult procedures that require high levels of technical expertise and concentration. It’s not surprising that burnout among dentists is high.

There are other mitigating circumstances, too. Dentists have studied hard for years to gain the level of professional expertise and recognition to practice. And if a dentist goes into solo practice, the environment can be a little isolated at times. Wellness in the dental profession is a hot topic.

Maintaining a healthy state of mind and body when practicing dentistry is of paramount importance. Here are three tips to contribute to positive wellness for dental professionals.

Get Active
For the most part, dentistry is a sedentary profession. Most of the day is spent sitting, and this can lead to various health issues. It’s important to check the ergonomics of your furniture to ensure you are lessening the risks of back and neck problems, which can become commonplace.

However, getting active at work can be a little tricky. A quick solution is to have a treadmill or exercise bike in the office that you can use before your first patient arrives, or even between patients. Having a private room where you can work out and then take a shower would be ideal, but resources may be limited.

Of course, this solution could be bettered by taking the time to get out and about, getting some fresh air while doing that all-important exercise. Look closely at your schedule and see how you can change things to fit in these important “me” sessions, which are vital to your physical and mental health. It may mean that you have to see a couple less patients a week, which although may not reflect well on your bottom line, is small change in comparison to not being able to work due to any health complications that can arise from failing to take adequate care of yourself.

“I always recommend active hobbies, especially if you work in a sedentary job. It doesn’t have to be anything too extreme, just some hiking or riding a bike. But the value of these activities is essential to your well-being, and helps create an effective balance in your life that we must all strive for,” recommends Brady Ozinski, a business blogger at BritStudent and WritemyX.

Surround Yourself with People
The social side of work is so important that it might be worth making a few changes in order to satisfy this need for human interaction. Make sure you employ a full support team and encourage interaction between the team. Engage with patients as much as you can and think carefully about sharing the practice with other professionals, ensuring you get to spend time with other individuals who are familiar with the trials and tribulations of this kind of high-skilled work.

“Create a social atmosphere in your practice with plenty of opportunities for interaction. Have social nights together and really build the strength of the team, which is so important for everybody in a workplace. The mental benefits of such steps cannot be underestimated,” warns Carole Franks, a health writer at Australia2write and NextCoursework.

Take Plenty of Time Off
Many solo practitioners are, by nature, workaholics. This will end up having a seriously detrimental effect on your wellness, and at the same time will have a hugely negative impact on your ability to earn in the long term. Think about the bigger picture — in order to sustain your career, it must be handled carefully.

Don’t let others judge the amount of time you take off. Chances are, as your own boss, you have the power to make these decisions, so choose what’s better for you, and then ultimately what will prove better for your patients as well, which is a professional who works at the top of his or her game when you are present. Sharing the practice with other dentists can help unburden the load here, too, as you can pick up each other’s patients at times when others are away, and generally all work toward a more productive practice that isn’t dependent on just one individual.

 

Entrepreneur, writer and editor Christopher T. Cooper is an expert in many facets of modern business practices. He is an editor at PHDKingdom and AcademicBrits, and a regular contributor to OriginWritings.

Funding Donated Dental Services will help Florida’s most vulnerable get life-saving care

By Dr. Cesar Sabates

“The mouth is the window into the health of the body” is a well-known phrase in the health care community.

As a dentist who has practiced for 30 years, I know that this statement is true.

I’ve treated patients who could not undergo transplants until the infections in their mouths were treated, and I’ve treated patients who couldn’t eat or sleep properly because of the pain of gum infection and decayed teeth, which can be associated with medical conditions such as diabetes.

Click here to read the full article in the Miami Herald published on Dec. 26, 2019.

Dr. Cesar Sabates is president of Florida Donated Dental Services, a past president of the Florida Dental Association, a Trustee of the American Dental Association and a practicing dentist in Coral Gables.

teeth.jpgFlorida Donated Dental Services program, which gives dental care to patients unable to pay, is seeking full funding from the state. Getty Images