I usually walk into the dental school through the third floor between 7.00 -7.30 AM. On one morning I walked past a couple in the waiting room at 7.45 AM. As I walked by I wondered why they were there so early? – and I decided to stop and say “Hello”. The couple I met that morning had driven all the way from Leominster MA (50 miles from Boston). The lady had been seen at TUSDM for five years. She said she had received excellent care-including treatment by one of our graduate students from a foreign country. Her colleague was excited to be at TUSDM for the first time-he had heard good things about her experiences and her care. His journey at TUSDM was about to begin.
At the faculty-staff breakfast on November 20, 2019 I sat at a table with some of our Staff. I asked their names and where they worked. They told me what floors they were on and what they did to support the school. Some of the staff were originally from foreign countries-and had backgrounds in dentistry (including one who was a fellow dentist who had trained in her home country). Our staff is diverse and their journeys to their current positions are varied and interesting.
On any given day of the month in the fall you will see young men and women gathering nervously near the 15th floor elevators. These students are here to interview at TUSDM. On average we receive 4000applications a year and our Student Affairs Staff invite approximately 500 students in for an interview. There are many faculty and students who give of their time to interview these applicants. On one of the days this month I introduced myself to the student group. I asked them to tell me who they were and where they were from. The students on that particular day had traveled to be with us from at least 15 different states. Many were hoping that their future road to their career would pass through TUSDM.
On November 21, 2019 I had dinner with the leadership groups from each class-including our I.S. DMD Class. Their paths to TUSDM vary and sometimes are not direct. I heard stories about students being trained in dental schools from different continents-and I even got an invite to Egypt. I listened to a student who was going to leave right after dinner to drive to NYC for an interview for a GPR program the next day-a road that would be tiring but promised many unanticipated futures. I saw pictures of families and children-and heard about the struggle to balance family life with a busy dental school schedule. We all swapped stories about dental school (preclinical fun nights, “plaster” fun time, ditch and die, doing procedures for the first time, faculty that couldn’t agree on treatment plans or who differed in their opinions). All of these stories and journeys will be relived with much fondness and laughter at future class reunions.
On Match day (November 22) for orthodontics, prosthodontics and periodontology several students learnt about where their next 2-3 years would be spent. Some will stay on the path at TUSDM, while others will journey to new dental schools in different parts of the country.
This month also involved a Board of Advisors meeting and our first-ever Volunteer Summit. Many alumni recalled their experiences at TUSDM. They heard from students and recent and fellow alumni about their paths, their journeys. Paths and journeys that are rewarding in so many different ways. Alumni that have met their spouses at TUSDM, alumni that have held leadership positions in organized dentistry, alumni that help their patients in so many meaningful ways, alumni that are engaged and generous. All were united in how TUSDM creates a sense of “family” and how TUSDM is a school with an excellent academic and clinical reputation.
All of these encounters this month made me think about how we as a community have the ability to impact the journeys that our patients and students take-how a simple “hello” or “how can I help you?” can lead to connections and insights that allow you to make a positive impact every day in many immeasurable ways.
As many of you take journeys-down the street or across the state, across the country or overseas this Thanksgiving, I wish you and your families and loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.