As I lay here and reflect on the last 30 years of my life, I cannot help but wonder and imagine what my life would be like had I not been given the gift of being a part of The Pankey Institute. Today marks my 30 year anniversary of walking through the doors of what was then called The L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education. I was seven weeks shy of my 27th birthday, and I had nothing but a lot of debt and dreams of doing great dentistry.
Back Then and Now
I am no different than many, if not most, of the students of today, who are saddled with what seems to be an insurmountable amount of debt. At the time, we were charging about $300 for a crown and paying a $70-$90 lab fee, a percentage of over 20%. I never even considered that percentage high, because I was just happy to be taking care of people.
Many people say, “It was different back then,” but was it? People were waking up with mouth or jaw pain. They were seeking an individual that could take care of their needs. Some wanted to feel better. Some wanted to look better. Some were willing to lose teeth. Some wanted to keep teeth. It is the same now as it was then, and it will continue to be this way for decades to come.
The fact that people will need or want to be taken care of will never change. The fact that some will have money to pay for your services and some won’t will never change. The question is “What type of dentist will you want to be?”
The Road Less Travelled
Thirty years ago, I wanted to be the best. Having been given the book The Philosophy of The Practice of Dentistry by L. D. Pankey, in dental school, I felt this was the way to care for patients that needed us. You see, it is all about the choices we make. I wasn’t going to be guaranteed a salary by a corporation, but I was going to have the opportunity to keep a portion of all I earned. It was up to me to make the decision about how I wanted to care for people, and this philosophy became my driving force.
The office I was in and peers in my area at the time did not seem to have the desire to take this path, as no one else had been to The Institute. I guess you could say I took “the road less traveled.”
The choice of committing to this philosophy has impacted my life beyond measure. For 30 years I have been able to learn from some of the greatest educators this profession has to offer, who have given their time, treasure, and talents to the 30,000 students who either have flown or driven to the beautiful island of Key Biscayne, Florida. I have established lifelong friendships with individuals from all over the world, who had and still have aspirations and dreams just like me. I have made mistakes, and I have done great things. All along the way, I had a group of individuals I could count on to get me through the ups and downs of the practice of dentistry, as well as life itself.
The Pankey Institute Community Is There for You
As you finish reading this, whether you are 26 or 56, realize there are people willing to help you get to where you want to be. I am glad it was The Pankey Institute for me. The Institute has now been here for over 50 years, and I feel immensely grateful for the 30 years that have been mine.
I want to thank all of those individuals who have given me so unselfishly their gift of priceless knowledge. And, if you have just begun your journey with The Pankey Institute or thinking you might like to, let me assure you that The Pankey Institute community is there for you.