ownership prideI have been practicing dentistry in the specialty area of prosthodontics since 1992. When we started off in 1990 in the dental implant arena, we were mostly treating patients with totally no teeth and the total treatment time took close to a year. Of course, nowadays, with better understanding of the science, our treatment time is dramatically shortened and predictability is excellent.

I do not only work on my cases during office hours at the clinic, I spend TONS of time in the dental clinic after office hours to handle the laboratory phase of implant treatment. That is the other half of the work that I do that people around me don’t get to see except that my little girls at home wonder where their daddy was many evenings.

My new batch of postgraduate students will start at the National University of Singapore shortly after June, 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, I have another three female post-graduate students in Prosthodontics. Year after year, the newbies come in and start off doing tons of laboratory work. They always make a lot of noise about the laboratory work in the first term. However, little do they know that there will be a lot more laboratory work to come during their 3 years of full time post-graduate training!

Some of my students have wondered out loud why they were doing the laboratory work since in the future they would be delegating the work to outside dental laboratories and dental technicians anyway.

My answer to this is simple – one learns to visualize the treatment outcome better after he or she has done numerous units of his or her own laboratory work. At the end of the day, the students are trained so that they can ‘see’ the treatment outcome in their head way ahead of time.

Secondly, we need to learn this thing called the ‘IKEA syndrome,’ – “One treasures it better when it is built by oneself.”  In other words, it is to take OWNERSHIP of what we do!!

It is common for patients and clinicians alike to think that things can be done either one way or many other ways. It is right that all things are do-able, however, it is often forgotten that while all things are do-able, not all things are beneficial.

In clinical practice, apart from being ‘practical’, it is essential for the clinician to be able to decipher how to behave and wisely select the best option knowing all the pros and cons of various options. Many times, the counter-argument is that there is no single ‘smart’ way for any given clinical situation. Well, this may be the case, but it is absolutely crucial to identify all the many other ‘not smart’ ways and not behave that way. Mr. Charlie Munger said the way to achieve immortality is “just tell me where I am going to die and I will never go there.” He is certainly working on it as he is turning 91 soon!

Yes, no one is perfect, we are mortals after all. However, ownership of one’s work, life, mistakes and situational outcomes, are important to move on in life with minimum hiccups.

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