As a dentist, do you inspire people?
You’re on the 45 yard line down by four points. The ball is in your hands. There is less than a minute left in the 4th quarter. If you can score a touchdown, you win the Superbowl! This is the moment you’ve spent your entire life working towards.
Sounds exciting right? For most people this scenario is something that is only experienced while sitting on their couch, Xbox controller in hand, ham sandwich in the other. I know that for me, playing Madden was the closest I ever got to winning a Superbowl. It’s not for a lack of dreaming though. In my youth I spent countless hours dreaming about making it to the NFL. I played football every chance I got. Somewhere along the way I realized I have to actually have some skill to make it to the NFL. Ambition and enthusiasm I had! Skill, well I was lacking in the skill department. And, so in in 11th grade my dream died. Luckily, I found some other career oriented dreams I didn’t realize I had.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a question that kids hear everyday. LIke me, millions of them answer “professional athlete.” But what about the other kids? What are the top dream jobs for most kids?
None of these choices surprised me. Something that did surprise me though was that not one list I looked at showed kids picking dentist as a dream job. Why is that? It’s obvious kids are fascinated by medical science so why the discrimination between dental careers and medical careers? I mean, I get it I guess. I’ve never seen a TV show with an attractive, physically fit, model-esque dentist fixing teeth by day and shooting bad guys, fighting crime by night. Honestly, I blame Hollywood for this lack of interest in the dental profession.
Hollywood’s lack of respect aside, I think there is more we can do and should do to inspire kids to become dentists. The ADEA reports that in the next few years, thousands of dentists will be retiring, leaving a hole in the amount of dentists per population. Additionally, health professional shortage areas (HPSA) aren’t going away anytime soon and people in those areas desperately need dental services. So we need future dentists to help fill these holes. While we don’t necessarily want to sway kids away from dreaming about becoming doctors, maybe we can convince those kids that want to be astronauts. In doing so, we have to come up with a more graceful tactic than “hey kid, NASA is dead! Come fix teeth for a living.” So at your next career day visit, instead of talking about the potential salary associated with dentistry, maybe talk about the science behind the job. These kids are smart and are looking for more than just a paycheck. I think it’s the science and service that will inspire the next generation of future dentists. It’s been said that “the youth is the hope of our future” so let’s get out there and inspire them!