Graduation tends to evoke a time for reflection and a chance to take a step back and look at the big picture. The day-in and day-out routine of a long schooling process can sometimes diminish the excitement that was so alive at the start—graduation gives you a chance to reignite that spark as you’re able to look back on your accomplishments and take your newly minted knowledge with you onto the next big thing.
Today, I get the opportunity to reflect as I graduate from my fellowship in implantology. Implantology is not a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association and this fellowship was an additional two years of part time schooling after 4 years of dental school and 3 years of a full-time residency in prosthodontics. (Yup, you heard that right. I had 9 years of school AFTER college.) So, as you can imagine, I have answered A LOT of questions about why I bothered “wasting” my time and money on a program teaching me information which someone else could learn on the fly. The bottom line is this: it was all done for my patients.
Towards the end of my prosthodontic residency, I came to realize that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. What I DID know was that I wanted to be able to provide implant surgery as an option to my patients and that I didn’t feel confident in the training I already had. Nor did I think that a weekend course on implant placement was going to satisfy my need to really be well trained and live up to the exceedingly high expectations of my midtown Manhattan patient base.
So, I enrolled in the Implantology Fellowship Program at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine where I learned from the best surgeons, clinicians and academicians in the game. Of course, there were points going through it where I was frustrated. But, now with the opportunity to reflect on my time in my fellowship, I can honestly say that I’m SO glad I did it. Not only did I gain the clinical skills and the confidence to perform these procedures in my practice, but I now understand the fundamentals of why I’m doing these procedures, the scientific rationale behind them and the biology that supports my decisions of one treatment or another.
How does this benefit my patients? Probably in more ways than you realize. Not only do I have more formal training than almost any other dentist out there, but in a lot of cases I’m able to treat my patients from the beginning to the end of their treatment in the same office. (Of course, there are exceptions!) But my combination of prosthodontic and surgical training gives me the advantage of being able to see the big picture to better plan treatments, execute the treatment for patients in a convenient and efficient manner and achieve better outcomes for them overall.
Whew, that was kinda tough. I don’t like bragging, but in the spirit of reflection and moving forward, it’s important to recognize and be proud of what I’ve accomplished and why I went through it in the first place. With my graduation, my spark is reignited and I’m so looking forward to being able to move onto my next big thing: providing superior service to all of our patients at Gallery57Dental. Cheers!