An ode to a NOT so NoobieDentist

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I have been unwittingly doing this thing for the last little while. When I start a new blog, I write for a bit. I then walk away. Come to think of it, I do that a lot when I write. It is mostly a product of laziness let’s be honest. Or boredom, which tends to overwhelm us so much nowadays. Just think of the last time you or someone you know misplaced their phone and how hysterical they became. Yet, boredom is an important time to assimilate memories and spark creativity. Only second to sleep. But I digress… At my narrative writing course, which I mentioned in my previous blog post, we get into the habit of just that; Writing a bit, then coming back to it. Mind you, not a month later but c’est la vie. And really, what a great way to enrich something that happened a few weeks back with newly discovered knowledge or experiences.

I finally, recently, had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with the brilliant mind and host of the podcast NoobieDentist: Dr Omid Azami. For those of you who don’t know Omid or have not listened to his podcast series, he is a sharp, young Canadian Dentist currently, and enviably, practicing in Australia. He created this podcast, to orient – the often disoriented – recent graduating dentists. And since its inception, the podcast has grown immensely to feature many prominent dental personalities and experts and a lot of promising aspiring young dentists. It samples all aspects of the profession and in my mind a unique venue for us dentists to connect our knowledge and experiences. To connect on a personal, albeit digital, level. Dentists tend to be extremely competitive, probably due to the highly technical nature of the field, which commands perfection. But also, I think we inculcate it going through dental school, influenced by grades, limited specialty spots, and carried forward from the original competition to get into dental school to begin with. And it is truly refreshing to see a medium that promotes collaboration and dialogue like this does.

So let me reflect a little on the experience of being interviewed by Omid and try to articulate what I learned from it. How it felt, perhaps. What it will propel me to change in my behavior, and what it made me feel about dentistry. One thing I learned in recent grad courses, is the importance of declaring objectives when teaching (which extends to authoring) to yourself and the audience. It helps you stay on track and insures you fulfill your goals by holding you accountable to them. Another curious thing was impressed upon me in recent courses – and frankly confused me at first – is that we were required to record ourselves in a teaching activity. There is something humbling attached to hearing oneself or seeing oneself. It has an inherent remedial quality to it. It allows you to see your weaknesses and make observations previously missed. It allows you to see your strengths, develop your self-concept and promotes confidence. It is the material evidence through which you can objectively self-assess (your delivery of some knowledge), which isn’t something we do well anyway. Being on NoobieDentist, unrehearsed, casual, puts you on a see-saw of ease and unease. This will be published on the world wide web after all. But, so is this. What I am writing just now. And it is that unease; the feeling of vulnerability and putting yourself out there, that is key to propelling the community as a whole, when done in the interest of the community. It is funny, I told Omid after, I usually walk around when chatting on the phone, and it felt so antsy to sit and do a video call and stare at half of the screen being occupied by my bald head versus that luscious head of Omid’s (I mean this in the most humorous sense of the expression).

So here’s a guy, who interviewed three of us that day, right before heading to work. Barely squeezing in an exercise before hand, I conjecture. And he still has to edit it all and create the posts for it. For me, to do that requires genuine interest; Intrinsic motivation. There is nothing wrong with the extrinsic kind, whether it is accolade, prestige or even monetary reward. That typically follows. But the former is what propels you through, and keeps you engaged. So I commend my colleague for his ambitious and dento-centric work. It is inspiring to see dental-related media that is not just photos of teeth and procedures. But equally exciting to have a medium that puts those exceptional ones that do in the spotlight for us to easily identify and hopefully connect with. To complete the circle.


I am a general dentist and hospitalist with an expansive interest in education research. I come from a basic science, and immunology research background, and am currently pursuing a master in community health with a health practice education focus.

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