Archives for category: Criticism

Whenever most prospective dental students interview for placement into the dental schools of their choice, they usually cite their desire to “help people” as their motivation for pursuing a career in dentistry.  So, why have so many non-dentists entered into the profession?  Is it their altruistic desire to “help people,” or is it something a bit more self-serving?

The average person reading this article might initially be unsympathetic to the plight of the dentist, as some in the general population have liken dentists to used-car salesmen.  Sorry.  No offense to used-car salesmen.  Several commentaries about the profession have asserted the position that many people feel that most dentists overcharge, and as a result, they have a mistrust of dentists.  Oftentimes, that mistrust usually originates from misinformation, and sometimes, misrepresentation of information from the individuals’ insurance companies and human resources managers.  However, that’s another topic entirely.

To completely understand any argument made on behalf of the dentist, it’s important to understand the dentists’ perspective.  To begin, the cost of dental education has skyrocketed over the past few decades.  According The America Dental Education Association (ADEA), the average debt for graduating dental students, based on a survey of the class of 2016, is $261,149.  However, based on the average cost of dental school tuition, I believe that number should be a lot higher.  Listed below is a compilation of the tuitions for a few schools in major metropolitan areas.  The amounts stated are solely tuition, unless otherwise stated, and does not include additional fees, including instrument fees, states/local fees, books fees or living expenses.

University State In-State Tuition Per Year Out-of-State Tuition Per Year
LECOM School of Dental Medicine Florida $49,700
Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry Florida $62,350
University of Maryland School of Dentistry Maryland $17,681.50 $32,864.50
University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry Mississippi $26,800 Not provided on website
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine New York $72,378
New York University College of Dentistry New York $72,904
Boston University Henry M Goldman School of Dentistry Massachusetts $72,000
University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry California $43,278.37 (*tuition and total mandatory fees)
The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Texas $24,150 (tuition only)

$38,446 (tuition and fees)

*Tuition rates are cited from the College/University websites

Keep in mind that these aggregate costs, which, in many cases, are upwards of a quarter of a million dollars, are solely for dental school tuition.  These moneys do not include tuition affiliated with other undergraduate or post-baccalaureate degrees or certificate programs that individuals might have sought in preparation for admission into these colleges.  Additionally, the tuitions do not include the additional costs associated with specialty programs that could take an additional two to six years, depending on the specialty program.  That in itself is egregious!  What’s even more egregious is that many graduating dentist are being squeezed from both ends-going in and coming out.  That brings me to the argument against corporate dentistry.

Many individuals affiliated with corporate dental franchises have not assumed any of the risks associated with the profession.  However, they are gainfully partaking in the monetary rewards.  One of the unfortunate sides of corporate dentistry is that some companies do not pay their associates a traditional salary.  Many dentists are compensated based on commission or a “draw,” which could essentially be compared to a pay advanced loan.  For example, if a company agrees to compensate an individual at a rate of $100/day and that individual only earns $80, the company will pay the individual the $100 and the individual will be in the hole for $20, which would be taken from the next pay day, assuming that the individual’s production is above the stated production goal.   The problem with that form of compensation is that, as time progresses, it could become dicey and convoluted, especially when third-party payers are involved.  Imagine trying to keep track of a year’s worth of earnings.

Aside from tuition, there are several financial obligations associated with the dental profession.  Initial state licensure could cost several thousand dollars and require periodic renewal.  Malpractice insurance is also a fundamental part of any dentist’s armamentarium.  Additionally, most dentists participate in routine, continuing education courses to maintain their license and advance their knowledge.  To be fair, many corporate dental practices do assume the cost of providing malpractice insurance coverage and continuing education costs.  However, these companies do have a disproportionate advantage over individuals who have made a sacrificial commitment to the profession.  Sole proprietorship, which is one of several reasons why many have chosen a career in dentistry over medicine, is being threatened, if not obliterated, by corporate dentistry.  Individuals who are saddled by six-figure debt might not be financially prepared or able to compete in the marketplace.

Speaking of marketplace, many Internet sites have ranked dentistry as one of the highest paying profession with starting salaries of over $100,000.  In addition to the private practice arena, the profession of dentistry does offer a variety of areas of practice, including academia, federally qualified health centers and research facilities, just to name a few.  However, the prevalence of those additional opportunities does not change the fact that corporate dental companies have dramatically impacted and influenced the private sector of dentistry.   Additionally, a six-figure salary scaled against and even larger six-figure debt might be more of a risk than a reward for some.  In fact, the larger the salary, the larger the tax implications and the smaller the adjusted gross income, which could make repayment of student loans an overwhelming obstacle to the dentist’s success and independence.

So, where does that leave the fate of the profession?  The truth is, corporate dentistry is hear to stay, and it is not the only variable impacting the dental profession, as evidence by the increasing dental school tuition rates.  These additional variables, which also include the impending burst of the student loan bubble, are multifactorial and beyond the scope of this article.  Nonetheless, corporate dental practices are growing at a rapid pace.  However, that growth could be brought to a screeching halt in the near future.  Life is a balance of risks and rewards, and if future practitioners determine that the risks are greater than the rewards, there could be a decline in the dental school matriculation rate, and hence, the amount of people entering the profession.  I guess we will just have to wait and see.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

1 Corinthians 1:27

 

I pray that this quote encourages you as much as it has encouraged me today.  God is about to do something in the lives of the unassuming—the brokenhearted, the forgotten and the unrecognized.  He is about to elevate leaders that the world has criticized, mocked, beaten, captured and imprisoned.  He is about to do a new thing.

 

I know that I am speaking directly to someone’s heart today.  The Lord is about to use you in ways that defy imagination.  He is about to make your enemies your footstool.  Every tear that you have shed has been captured.  Psalm 56:8 says, “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?”  God has heard your cries.  There might seem as if there is no way out.  It might appear as if everyone has abandoned you and told you ‘no,” but please know that it is during your darkest hours when God does His finest work.  It was during the darkness that God called light into existence.  It was after Pharaoh’s heart was hardened that God parted the Red Sea and delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians.  It was after Job had lost everything that God restored him two-fold.  Please be reminded that God is a God of grandeur, and while his preparation might be done in seclusion, His restorations are never done in private.  God’s promotions are for His glorious victory.  Therefore, they are always on display. Matthew 23:12 says, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,” (NIV).

 

Be grateful for all who denied you.  God is elevating you in a manner that you will be indebted to none other than He.  The blessings of the Lord make a man rich, and it adds no sorrow with it, Proverbs 10:22.  Know that God has already blessed you, and He is about to make a public proclamation.  In Jesus, name, Amen!  The Bible also says that even before God restored Job, Job repented and humbled himself.  He praised God even while he was covered in ashes and riddled with sore.  Wherever you are, praise God.  Praise His glorious name.  Know that the end of your story was written even before the beginning, and it’s not over until God says that it’s over.  Glory to God.

A few years ago, I created this blog to challenge the way we think–to open our minds. Today the old adage, knowledge is power, is probably truer than ever before. Many of us fear what we do not know.

On Tuesday, I sat in front of my television, as perhaps millions of others, and watched as Charlie Sheen disclosed what was probably his biggest personal obstacle to date: his HIV status. As I watched him, I saw an individual who was the embodiment of the human experience–wonderful, flawed and broken, all at the same time. At times during the interview, he look bewildered, as if he were having an out of body experience–as if it were happening to someone else.

Days before the Matt Lauer interview, I already knew what Charlie Sheen’s disclosure would be. The Internet was already abuzz. The opinions and speculation varied from support to condemnation. As I read through some of the posts, I was reminded of King David. During one of his fallen moments, he declared, “It would be better to fall into the hands of God than to fall into the hands of man.”

God’s grace reminds us that we are ALL wonderful, flawed and broken. In all of our lives, we will experience moments where our actions will take us to dark places from where only God can deliver us. The truth is, only God can judge.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Whether we know it or believe it, we are all called for God’s purpose. He can take our biggest mistakes, failures and shortcomings and use them for His glory. One of the positives that came from Sheen’s disclosure is the open dialogue about HIV and AIDS. There is still so much misinformation and stigma surrounding the disease. As having had the experience as an HIV educator and working with HIV researcher, I understand the value of these teachable moments.

Last year, I wrote and produced, “What is Your Status: An HIV Awareness Story ” to highlight some of the issues that still surround HIV and AIDS.
Please check out the video below:

There is something about flying that makes us think. I guess it has something to do with sitting still with nowhere to go.

As I sat in my seat on my flight to Canada, I got a change to think-I mean really think. Maybe it had something to do with the book I was reading: How Successful People Think by John Maxwell. I paused on the sentence where Maxwell talked about iron sharpening iron. I thought about the irons in my life-the people who challenge and encourage me to be a better version of myself. I also thought about past friendships that didn’t exactly edify me.

There were many lessons that I learned during this season in my life. I learned to evaluate my motives and the motives of those around me when giving and receiving advice, respectively.  I also learned to evaluate whether my relationships propelled me forward, or whether they held me back. The last, and possibly, the most valuable lesson that I learned this season was the value of being able to be myself without fear of judgment.

If we are not careful, sometimes we can become prisoners to other people’s issues and opinions, and people have a lot of issues and opinions. When we do, we can begin to take on personalities and characteristics that are not inherent to our nature.

I’ve heard it said that people dislike in others what it is that they hate about themselves. If I could add to that, I would say that people also hate in others the very thing they wished they had. All too often, I have seen people criticize other people about a particular characteristic or circumstance only to embrace that same characteristic or circumstance when they achieve it. The problem is, if we are not careful, we could be walking around holding on to baggage that wasn’t even our issue to begin with. Meanwhile, the original owner of the baggage has moved on and has left us standing in the aftermath of the wreckage—bitter and broken.

So what do we do? The first and most important thing is to remember who we are in Christ. We are God’s masterpiece—every one of us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). The second thing to remember is that we should not be afraid to be ourselves. If someone cannot appreciate our quirks and personality, that’s okay. Move on. It is okay to move on. Lastly, we should not let other people’s insecurity become our problems. In life, we all have our crosses to bear. The last thing we should want to do is to take on someone else’s. It impedes our happiness. Remember, you don’t have to apologize to anyone for being happy—for being you!

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will crush your spirit, break your heart and demolish your dreams. For those of you who have ever heard that old childhood adage, you know that isn’t quite how the saying goes. In fact, that playground saying taught us, as children, that words are meaningless and non-impactful. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Words ARE powerful. They mold and shape us. It was with words that God created the heavens and the earth. Words have the ability to create and destroy. That is why it is so hard to escape the clutches of words, particularly negative criticisms.

When trying to overcome the aftermath of criticism with positivity, the ratio is seldom 1:1. Rarely, do we reverse the effects of one incident of spoken negativity with only one kind word. Oftentimes, the antidote for the venomous sting of harsh words is a superfluous amount of positive affirmations. Our human nature has a natural proclivity to negativity. We would sooner believe the worse about ourselves (and others) before subscribing to a kinder truth. Why do we accept harsh words as true, and why do we deliver them as fact? One of the best answers to that question came to me from a quote in Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s book “The Great Gatsby:”

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Many of us are like Tom and Daisy. We are careless and reckless, particularly with our words. We go through life regurgitating our unstrained thoughts on our unsuspecting victims and then we retreat into our ignorance, our wealth, and in some cases, our apologies. We hide behind popular colloquialism like, “I keep it real” or “I call it as I see it.” Here’s a truth: We don’t just get to impose our “truths” on others. We don’t have a right to just say what we feel—uncensored, unadulterated and unfiltered. Our words should edify and administer grace to those hearing it (Ephesians 4:29). It should not cause people to retreat into despair and desperation. We should also note that not everyone is equipped or called to deliver criticism. Criticism that is truly meant to correct should be delivered with love and with consideration given to the appropriate timing. Like they say, “timing is everything.” Constructive criticism should also be devoid of hatred, pride and/or malice. In other words, it should come from a good place.

In a perfect world, people would have tact and decorum. But our world, and the people in it, are far from perfect. So what can you do to disarm the sting of hurtful words? Below are my top ten ways.

  1. Know who God is!
  2. Know who you are! Know that everyone on this earth, including you, was made on purpose and for a purpose. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
  3. Know that you are not perfect, and that’s okay. Know that it is okay to be human.
  4. Know that not every criticism is a personal attack. Sometimes, other people have issues that have nothing to do with you.
  5. Learn to be introspective. Sometimes, you have to learn to look deeper at yourself. Even criticisms that come from a negative place might have some merit. Weigh the message and the source. Apply what’s applicable and discard the rest. The person you are today should always strive to be better than yesterday’s version.
  6. Know that you cannot please everybody. Strive to be your best, but know that some people will always be disappointed.
  7. Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  8. Learn to laugh at others. Don’t always take people too seriously.
  9. Develop relationships with people who will keep you morally, spiritually and personally accountable.
  10. Don’t just wait for others to affirm you, compliment yourself. Sometimes, you have to learn how to encourage yourself.