Giving Back: We Might be Giants
By Dr. Jennifer S. Davis
Getting started in any career field can be a frightening endeavor to most anyone. Those of us who have been fortunate in our first years of dental practice give a lot of credit to many individuals who have strongly influenced our course of decisions which led us to dentistry and have given us strong footing on which to stand upon. These people have helped to guide us in a positive way through the first years of practice. The gifts these "giants" in our lives have given us are priceless.
It may seem like an odd bit of advise to encourage others whom are still getting settled in a new career to go out and get involved - to give to others, or to an organization, your time, your efforts and your passion. But consider for just a moment that there may be rewards of fulfillment and encouragement that can enrich your own life that you may receive in return for your service. While getting involved you may also find that being included in a group provides support for you, both professionally and personally. We all will inevitably reach barriers in life and will need some direction for confronting the obstacles and direction for moving forward in life. This has been proven to be true over and over again for myself. Each time I decide to give of myself, so much more seems to come to me in return.
For example, as a new dentist, I was asked to become a member of the New Dentist Committee (NDC) within the first six months of licensure. I have to admit, I was quite anxious to commit to anything at that point in my life that would take more time from my already limited personal time. I had joined the American Dental Association, sure, but being on a committee was another level of involvement that I had never considered before.
Much to my surprise, I credit my current level of enthusiasm for my profession to the first commitment I made to organized dentistry - serving on the NDC. Extending my efforts beyond my personal obligations has been extremely rewarding. The empowerment received by working together with colleagues has been priceless, and the time I spend with the New Dentist Committee provides me with months of energy to go back to my practice and move ahead.
As a member of the NDC, I also get to experience how the governance of organized dentistry works. I'm amazed by the amount of PDA members who pay dues every year, yet don't actively participate in the organization they are a part of. By being on a committee, I am able to give my opinion and help make decisions that will affect the organization of which I am a proud member. The entire process is extremely gratifying.
I encourage you as a dental student to get involved in the organizations you may already be a part of. Leadership is not only personally rewarding, but also builds character and keeps you informed on many levels. Volunteering can lead to networking opportunities, scholarships and esteemed positions in the future.
Being on the NDC has given me many rewards and additional self confidence which has enabled me to get involved in many other avenues of service within the community. Now I find myself involved in many areas of service for which I am grateful to give my time and efforts. As the cycle of life continues it is very rewarding to think that someday we may become the "giants" that help to form another person's experience in dentistry.