This weekend I had lunch with the family of a dentist who graduated from my dental school in 1938: Nathan Goodman. Upon his passing in 2006, his family gave a generous gift to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, which will support dental students for generations to come. This is how we came to share a meal, and I came away from our afternoon together with a completely renewed appreciation for the profession of dentistry. I have not treated my first patient yet, but it is even more clear that dentistry is a fantastic career choice.
Dr. Goodman and his son (a graduate of Tufts) practiced together for many years, and his son continues to work in the original office that his father opened over 60 years ago. He shared great stories about his father’s approach to his career, as well as many observations about how the profession has changed over time. Their office still runs on the original “1950’s” business plan it started with, but patients must not mind since he and his father have treated as many as 4 generations of patients in one family! He humorously noted how much more dentists can offer to patients today, since his father’s patients typically had the option of an amalgam filling or an extraction. Both cost $1.
It surprised me to realize how little connection I have as a pre-clinical student with currently practicing dentists, let alone with those who practiced before my parents were born! It was refreshing to hear that adhering to a tradition of high-quality care and dedicated patient relationships pays off whether or not the latest technology is quickly adapted. This family dental office is still not connected to the internet (!!!), yet they have a very busy practice with high levels of patient and provider satisfaction. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.
Have you been inspired and mentored by local dentists since entering dental school? Shout ’em out!
~ Colleen Greene, Contributing Editor, Harvard ’12