How My Career in Education Boosted My Career in Private Practice
The ACP Private Practice Committee is pleased to introduce a new series of articles for members in practice -- written by prosthodontists, for prosthodontists.
These articles are intended to share tips and wisdom that members have picked up from their experience in practice -- with useful ideas for prosthodontists new in practice and those who are further into their careers.
Contributed by: Dr. Khaldoun Ajlouni, Dallas, TX
Life works in mysterious ways, and sometimes the best things that happen to us are the things that we don’t plan. I never planned to be an educator; when I joined the graduate program in prosthodontics at Marquette University in 2000, my plan was to work in private practice in sunny California! At that time, the state had its own dental licensing exam, which I took, thinking that’s where I would end up. But God had a different plan for me. My career in education continued and opened new avenues for my career in private practice.
During my residency program, I was lucky enough to work with amazing teachers and mentors. Each was unique in their approach to treatment planning, executing treatment, and providing excellent patient care. But they all had one thing in common: their passion for education, which shone through when they interacted with the residents and undergraduate students. They were friends, mentors, and leaders.
One man stood apart among a bunch of amazing mentors: Dr. Jerry Ziebert. He became not only a mentor and a friend, but a father figure and source of inspiration. A natural teacher, Dr. Zeibert embodied complete humility and selflessness despite his professional achievements. He was a true inspiration, and I hope I can accomplish a fraction of his accomplishments and attain just few of his many virtues!
During my residency, Dr. Ziebert got me involved in teaching in his undergraduate class in fixed prosthodontics. He guided me all the way, showing me what it takes to be a good teacher, and I fell in love with education. This was a turning point in my career.
In addition to my career in private practice in Southlake, Texas, I continue to be a part of the academic world where I am now a clinical professor in prosthodontics at Texas A&M College of Dentistry. My career in academia has been rewarding on many levels. I have worked with and established long-term connections with amazing students and colleagues. I have modeled all of these relationships after my experience with Dr. Ziebert.
There is a benefit to my work in academia that I didn’t foresee: my involvement in education has become a major referral source to my private practice. I continue to give multiple continuing education courses to general dentists every year, which has had the unintended benefit of adding to my referral base and improving my practice in ways I never could have imagined.
I believe that as prosthodontists, the nature of our advanced training in restorative dentistry can play a major role in academia and continuing education. This can be rewarding on multiple levels, and I encourage anyone who reads this article to consider this incredible path.
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