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News & Press: CSPD Bulletin

President's Message - Winter 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016  
Posted by: CSPD
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Presidency and Parenthood

At the end of March last year, many of you were enjoying yourselves at the CSPD Annual Meeting in Dana Point, learning and reveling with friends and colleagues. I was at home, waiting for our second child to join us outside of the womb. As we approach his first birthday and the end of my year as CSPD President, I’ve had a chance to reflect on how my dual roles as mother and leader have influenced one another.

For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in organizations. My first experience was during elementary school as second grade class president. (I don’t remember much from that experience). I continued my involvement in student government during middle school, high school and college, and even served as student body president in dental school. Being involved in organizations and taking on leadership challenges always called to me. I felt that it was a fun way to socialize and grow as a person. From the moment I finished residency I have been involved in dental organizations. I enjoy being in leadership positions because I gain personal enjoyment and also feel like I serve the profession.

But motherhood changes everything. After my first daughter was born three years ago, I felt immense pressure to ensure that I protected our family time. However, I also felt that my service to organized dentistry was now not just for me. My involvement would serve as an example to my daughter, showing her what it means to be a caring and responsible professional.

The face of pediatric dentistry, and the leadership of organized dentistry, is changing. Currently, approximately 70 percent of California pediatric dental residents are female. Of our current membership, just under half are female. Of the eight directors of the 2016-2017 board of directors, six are female (I am not certain, but I suspect this is a first). Of the current four members of the CSPD Bulletin’s editorial team, all are women, with kids! This bodes well for our profession. One study found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on their corporate boards attained significant higher performance (greater than 40% when looking at return on equity, return on sales, and return on investment capital) than those with the lowest representation of women.

Similar to how gender diversity elevates a corporate board, I think that generational diversity will cause many organizations and companies to evolve as well. Many younger CSPD members, along with the residents and new grads, are part of the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y. One trait of this cohort is that they are “civic minded,” with a strong sense of community, both local and global. This group, those under and around age 35, strive for and value work-life balance. They are described as optimistic, engaged, and team players.

I look forward to seeing how our organization, along with our practice styles, will continue to evolve as we find more women and men, who view career and leadership perhaps a bit differently than in generations past, fulfilling leadership positions.

As one of the female leaders in this era, I feel that I can share just a little bit of what I have observed and learned over the years. Perhaps I can help a new CSPD member who has just become a parent, or is figuring out how to juggle a practice and a family, but hopes to make a commitment to organized dentistry.

  1. Stay focused on the big picture; don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep in mind what the really important things are, and let the minutia go.
  2. Have a support system, inside and outside of the profession. Mentors, colleagues, friends… It’s key to growing your career and involvement, and also to keeping your sanity. I work in a practice with other doctors who fully support my commitment to CSPD, CDA, and all my other endeavors. Additionally, I have a husband who understands my desire to stay involved.
  3. Empower others; ask for help. One thing that good leaders learn to do is to delegate, or ask for help. There’s something that I learned years ago – the concept of being a “lazy leader.” It’s essentially getting others involved, so that many individuals end up doing a little work, instead of one leader doing a lot of work. The neat thing about this is that you end up with a lot of enthusiastic leaders, which makes your organization stronger! The key thing to becoming a lazy leader is that you have to release control of certain things, which often ends up being healthier for the organization (and probably you).
  4. Try to be fully in the moment, whether it’s spending time with your child or attending a meeting. Choices have to be made with your time, so whatever you decide to do, do it fully. If you choose to attend a meeting, give your attention to the meeting. Likewise, do the same with the time you spend with your family. The interesting thing I will say about this is that over time, I have seen the lines blur between family time and work time. For example, I know more than a few female pediatric dentists who bring their kids to work for at least some time of their day. I foresee Millennials also expecting that their work and professional organizations be more flexible to allow them to involve their families.

The evolution of our profession has come about due to shifting demographics such as more women graduating from dental school generally, and from pediatric residency programs specifically. However, let me acknowledge those who have come before us. The path was paved by many dedicated and open-minded individuals who have helped shape our profession into one of the most highly regarded and trusted, and have created the strong, independent, forward-thinking organization that we call CSPD. In my own group practice, my partner, who is a pillar in the local pediatric dental community, plans to hand over the reins to myself and another female partner. I have also had the good fortune to have many exemplary role models who encouraged me and supported me throughout my career. These special individuals nurtured and inspired me to keep reaching for more…and they happened to be mostly male. They, along with organizations like CSPD, have given me incredible opportunities, such as the one I have for a few more months…the honor and privilege of serving as your president.

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