Last week, June 10th, marked the 35th anniversary of my graduation from dental school. 35 years ago, 271 of my fellow classmates and I received our dental degree, D.D.S., from N.Y.U College of Dentistry in a ceremony held at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. I had the honor of being one of the graduation speakers. It was a wonderful and memorable day. I recall the pomp and circumstance of the procession replete with academic regalia and formality. It was truly a milestone in my life. Ann and I were married 3 days later!
During the convocation the Dean looked out upon all of us and opined, advised, and predicted that graduation day was, in fact, just the beginning of our education. Little did I realize then how powerful and prophetic his words were.
In the years that have passed, I pursued professional growth and knowledge with a passion. I have literally logged thousands of hours of continuing education by attending seminars and conferences all over the country with a curiosity and a need to know. I wanted and needed to know how to be the best dentist I could be and be capable and knowledgeable to excel at the best possible dental care for my patients.
A little over four years ago – on September 2013 to be exact – I committed myself to a comprehensive 2-year clinical program in the field of implant surgery. I enrolled as a student at NYU College of Dentistry, my alma mater. My interest in surgical placement and surgical techniques associated with implant dentistry, included advanced bone grafting techniques. Over the course of the program I performed many surgeries and placed MANY implants under the tutelage of very gifted clinicians and teachers.
Every Wednesday I closed my office and off to classroom and clinic I went. A spark ignited in me and I was infused with unexpected enthusiasm, excitement and energy. I couldn’t get enough of it! I was enthralled and I (modestly say) excelled as a participant in the program. I loved being a student and I loved what I was learning.
Then I committed to the advanced/supplemental third year implant surgery program. During that third year I really had the opportunity to grow as an implant surgeon and expand my dental horizons. The years flew by and the program came to an end. Another graduation.
Upon graduation I was invited to continue as a member of the faculty and I just completed my first year as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor. Next week is the first graduation ceremony I will witness as a teacher. And, as all of you dedicated educators know, when you teach, you learn.
The dean’s words, spoken 35 years ago, still resonate within me: “Graduation is just the beginning of your education”. He was right. I am still in pursuit of knowledge and still aspire to hone my skills as a dentist.