The Riches of Giving
By Dr. Mark T. Gaponiuk
We are living in difficult economic times and dentists are feeling the pinch just like everyone else. Elective dentistry in our office has decreased. Investments have taken a big hit. Cash flow seems to have slowed to a trickle while overhead costs and my school loan repayment continue to be due every month.While I further my career and market myself to be productive, I contemplate the riches of giving even during difficult financial times.
Part of being a good dentist is giving to the community. This week I saw Bob who is a patient we are treating through a program called Donated Dental Services (DDS). It is a program that links volunteer dentists and dental labs with patients who are disabled, elderly or medically compromised and who cannot afford or get public aid for dental treatment. He is a disabled veteran who had some dental decay and missing teeth. We have restored his carious dental lesions and made a lower partial for him through the help of a dental lab that totally volunteered the labor and gave the materials for the partial. It cost us in lost revenue and overhead to treat Bob, but the wealth gained in getting to know someone with a dental and financial need and being able to help him has been invaluable. Besides DDS, I have been able to volunteer as a dentist by visiting schools, speaking to nurses assistants at nursing homes and by getting involved in organized dentistry.
For the past three years I have been a part of the New Dentist Committee (NDC) for the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA). I initially was hesitant about joining the NDC as I did not have much of an interest in the politics of dentistry. But I am glad for the experience that I have gained and the role I have played for dentistry in Pennsylvania. The NDC has an import voice in organized dentistry and it has been encouraging to see how seriously PDA takes the NDC. Our committee was acknowledged this past year by receiving the 2008 ADA New Dentist Committee Outstanding Program Award of Excellence Golden Apple Award for initiating the New Dentist’s Reception in welcoming new dentists to the ADA. As my time draws to a close in the NDC, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the PDA and leave it a richer man. I encourage each new dentist to give back to their community as a dentist and to remember to give to their profession as well.