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Over 60...and Getting Younger: August 20, 2010

Teaching Is Learning

For 50 years, since my graduation from NYU College of Dentistry, I have been affiliated with a hospital. I have been witness to hundreds of young dental graduates who are now experienced and successful practitioners.

Some of the hospitals were Polyclinic Hospital in Manhattan (now defunct), Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica (now defunct), Triboro Hospital, and Queens General Hospital. However, I have spent the last 35 years as an attending dentist at Jamaica Hospital, on the Van Wyck Expressway.

In those 35 years we have grown from two interns to 12 residents. The names and faces of our residents have changed also. The attending dentists have also changed.

Our early residents were mostly U.S.-born and living in the metropolitan area. Now we have students from all over the planet. Some are Russian, some are Korean, some are Chinese or Indian. Last year, we had three residents who were Muslim. Those three were such wonderful residents, and we miss them terribly.

At many a dental convention I run into some of our past residents. They are buying equipment for their newly organized offices. I always ask them one question: “Did we teach you anything at Jamaica Hospital?” Their answer is almost always “Oh yes, doctor, it was a wonderful way to learn dentistry.”

I have learned much by teaching. The newly arrived residents (about age 25) are still full of biological and chemical formulas that I have long forgotten. I teach them how to handle situations and the proper methods of treatment. It is a worthwhile trade of ideas.

I go on Mondays and there are usually a few trauma cases in the waiting room. Trauma can result from auto accidents, fights, and sometimes from nearby John. F. Kennedy Airport.

I hope to continue for many years. Our staff is truly kind and attentive. The new residents represent a new experience every year. Working with young people helps one stay young at heart.