Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why I Became A Dentist

How does a person become a dentist?

There are several factors that led me to my desire to be a dentist. And how I ended up in Peoria, IL, but let's start with what led me to practice dentisty. It's a patient-centric tale.

First, as a young boy, I watched my dentist, Dr Robert McParland, as he did dental treatment in my mouth. Dr McParland first practiced on Pulaski Rd, in Chicago, on the second floor above a delicatessen. 

He was gentle and soothing in his methods. Patient comfort and understanding was always uppermost in his mind. He explained what he was doing and why. It made a huge impression on my young mind. I was witnessing genuine professionalism, mixed with human caring.

I would walk to his office. If you were a good patient, he would write a prescription and you would take the prescription to the deli downstairs for a free chocolate covered ice cream bar. 

Talk about a practice builder! 

He later moved his office to Montrose Ave. I would take two buses to see him at his office. It seemed as if I always had several cavities and a good check-up would only need one or two cavities filled. He was a nice man and could make small talk to me easily. He also seemed to enjoy his occupation. 

In eighth grade, I had to write down what my future occupation was going to be for the F. W. Reilly School paper. I thought being a dentist sounded good and I was the only one of eighty five eight graders to have it published in the paper.

As a young boy, I would buy model kits for airplanes, cars, and ships. I enjoyed following the instructions and assembling the parts to make the project. I never considered myself to be artistic, but I had a sense of what “looks right”. I was one of three boys from my grade school selected to go to Lane Technical High School, a magnet school on Addison St. 

It was a big deal to be selected to go to Lane Tech. Our school had over 5,000 boys and all had at least two years above average reading and math skills. Almost all of the boys were planning on becoming to be an engineer or a scientist. I had to pay attention in class and I enjoyed the challenging environment. 

I enjoyed science, but I couldn’t see myself in a laboratory all day. I wanted to have contact with people.

After high school, I attended Bradley University as a biology major. 

I briefly thought about being a physician, but I thought a dentist would have more autonomy in practice. I had good grades at Bradley and was accepted into the four dental schools that I applied, all in Illinois. I had to study more at Bradley and even more in dental school. 

After dental school, I was accepted into a dental residency program at John Cochran V.A. Hospital in St. Louis. I saw patients in the hospital that needed dental treatment. 

Every day was different. In some cases, I had to consult the patient’s physician regarding dental treatment. I attended rotations in the hospital, including anesthesiology. 

At one time, I thought about being an oral surgeon, but I thought being a general dentist would be more interesting. I get to see patients and improve their oral health and see their improved smile. 

It's a big deal to me to know I'm helping, in my small way, to enhance the lives of other people. 

A new smile can mean a whole new life of better chewing, improved digestion, an increase in social interactions, and a boost to self-confidence.

I hope you feel like you know me a little better now. 

I'd love to hear your story of how you got into whatever field you chose or business you have enjoyed.

LATER……How I came to Peoria.

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