To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I really enjoy this quote. Nowhere does it state that success is your mansion, yacht and sports car. It’s about the connections you make with people and the community.
In my residency, I am fortunate to be able to complete complex dental procedures and treatment plans for patients at a reduced rate. Most of these patients would not be able to afford this treatment at a private practice office. Unfortunately, even with a 50% discounted rate applied to procedures, a few of these patients still cannot afford to get treatment. For a few of these, treatment would literally change their lives.
As a 2013 dental graduate, I will struggle to be able to afford to give away much free dentistry out of the gate. I need to get my six-figure dental school debt that starts with a three under control before I’m in a comfortable enough position to extend free services out of my office. Of course, I want to be involved with events like Mission of Mercy and Give Kids a Smile as much as possible.
While I may not be able to give out free dentures right away, I am able to contribute to my community in other ways. For instance, I currently volunteer at the Idaho Humane Society, taking dogs out for walks and giving cats some much-appreciated petting. Families wander around checking out the animals for one to adopt, and I can assist them in this special event. I have to admit though: this volunteering is a little selfish because it’s free pet therapy after a stressful day!
Some other opportunities for giving back may be tutoring area school kids, helping out with reading day at the library, volunteering at the food bank, coaching a kids sports team, and more. The volunteer opportunities are endless and doing something outside of dentistry is a great change of pace. I hope for the new dentists like me that we do not become close-minded to giving back just because we are in debt. Think of it as an opportunity to step outside the dental world and find something enjoyable to do for others.
Katie Divine, DDS