27 Jun The Monday Mouthful #1: “I Wanna Be A Dennntist”
Welcome to the first post of our Monday Mouthful blog. We will try to post something new, interesting, funny or informative every week. So for the first post, I figured that I would answer the most common question I’ve been asked over the past few years: “Why did you decide to become a dentist?”
Remember Hermie the Elf from the “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” movie? He was one of Santa’s helpers and he spent his days painting toys. But he dreamed of leaving that life behind to become a dentist. Weird, huh? Well, that was me. I had a successful career in advertising, but I just wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing. I studied fine art at school, and I enjoyed painting and making illustrations. The creative end of the ad business was fine, but I couldn’t see myself doing it forever. One night, Kristin and I were talking about what I should do and she said, “You can always be a dentist.” That was moment we decided to change our lives forever.
The next day I set about exploring the best way to start this journey. I had a great contact at UMDNJ who pointed me in the right direction and explained what I needed to do. She told me that it would be the hardest thing I would ever do in my life. YUP! She was right. Step one was getting into Monmouth University for a year of full-time pre-requisites. I hadn’t taken general chemistry since high school, but I had to learn it all over again and get an A in 4 weeks over the summer! Honestly, MU was a blur: Physics, Organic Chem, MicroBio, Physiology! I went from working late at the office to studying late at the library. I finished MU, took my entrance exam and was accepted into UMDNJ. Now I had to wait 13 months to start dental school.
I spent that year with my daughters. It was an amazing year that many fathers don’t get to experience. I was very lucky to have that time. I worked as much as I could, and even sold cars at Jim Curley Buick, GMC and KIA! It was a great “human experiment” for me.
August 14, 2012 was the first day of dental school. I donned the seafoam green scrubs for the first time that week and would wear them almost every day for the next four years. It’s kinda nice to not have to think about what to wear. I was the oldest student in my class, and they called me “Pops.” There were some students who were 12 years younger than me. So any 1980’s movie references were lost on them. I spectacularly failed my first exam and thought I was done. How could I possibly study any more than I have been? I met some other students in the same boat as me and we pulled ourselves up and made it through the first year. The second year was hell. I would go days without seeing my kids because I was studying around the clock. We took the first part of our National Board Exams and we moved up to the clinic. I could see the light.
UMDNJ became Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. The only thing that really changed was the signage. We began treating patients. I think that was when I remembered why I did all this in the first place. I really love the interaction with patients; I love working with my hands; and I love seeing people happy with their results. We spent two years in the school clinics and saw many things, good and bad. I realized that no matter who the patient was, or where they were from, they all came for some form of help. And that became my new job…helping people. Not a bad career.
So I left my ad career over 6 years ago. Since then, I have met so many different people and I am not the same person I was when I started. I couldn’t be more excited about embarking on my new career. I feel like I’m part of our community again, and I hope I can help all of you too.
So that’s why…