You may be thinking, “How could skills with a pen translate to skills with a perio probe?” It may sound tongue-in-cheek, but journalism had me convincing people to open their mouths years before dentistry.
Hear me out. The central focus for both dentistry and writing is people. There is no story without a person, nor is there a procedure without a patient. Yes, that can be said for anything from business to baseball, but what dentistry and writing share is unique.
The best dentists and writers need to be experts in empathy, and writing lets you live through another’s eyes. Before the ink ever hits the page, much like before a drill touches a tooth, you need to know someone inside out. There is a story to every checkbox on that medical history. Some are surprisingly funny, some are sad. Either way, your patient is your central character. The more time you put into them, the more stories spring to life. The plot can thicken with every appointment, and like any good story, plot holes can ruin it. Any time a patient presents with a lesion of unknown origin, don’t you want
more backstory, a little more exposition? Would it not be great to have a flashback?
That’s essentially journalism, because — hint, hint — your patient is the main character, and they can flash back. As a dentist, you are the writer to this character’s continuing story. You are in control of the narrative. You connect with your main character through your questions, letting them relive moments and stories with you so you can see through their eyes. These flashbacks shed light and pave a path forward for both your patient and you.
~Tom Vicarro, Rutgers ’19