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Paradise, Pankey Style

July 1, 2007
I just returned from my visit to Key Biscayne, Fla. I saw the beach for less than 30 minutes. What could keep me away from the sun and the world-class tennis facility that was less than a mile away? The Pankey Institute.

By Dr. Sheri Doniger, Editor

I just returned from my visit to Key Biscayne, Fla. I saw the beach for less than 30 minutes. What could keep me away from the sun and the world-class tennis facility that was less than a mile away? The Pankey Institute.

THE PANKEY INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED DENTAL EDUCATION, CONTINUUM LEVEL ONE, APRIL 15, 2007 - Front: Drs. Lee Brady, Honore Woodside, Michael Podlusky, Travis Sterner, Renee Trujillo, Remedios Paramio, Suzette Calimlim-Sauco, Sheri Doniger, and Donnese Fritsche. Middle: Drs. Tom Luepke, Steve Ikemiya, Roger Bryant, Douglas Hoppe, Gray Vogelmann, Kay Knipschild, Janet Thomason, and Irwin Becker. Back: Drs. Gary DeWood, TJ Bolamperti, Brant Rouse, Neal Morgan, William Rodriguez, Neil Browning, Mark Murphy, Paul Browne, and David Bevans.
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We were 20 strangers with different lifestyles and circumstances who in four days became lifelong friends. Some are just beginning their careers; some have been practicing for many years. For the first time, I heard a male practitioner verbalize about seeking balance in his professional, personal, and family life. Yes, I am sure male dentists on some level think about this, but I have never heard it uttered. The ratio of our class reflected the current status of dental schools today: 47 percent women and 53 percent men.

Although the ratio was similar, this wasn’t dental school. One comment to dispel any preconceived notion: The Pankey Institute definitely is not all about occlusion and conformity. From the beginning, we all felt a nurturing inclusiveness and belonging.

The days were long and the camaraderie was high. We learned from each other and shared another Pankey trademark. Bonding was easy in the most nurturing environment I have ever seen. The experience included a high level of dental education, psychology, and philosophy in an intensive (albeit beautifully tropical) setting.

Pankey is the best place for women. In part of my introduction, I had mentioned I was working part time. All of the wise men and women of Pankey listened. During the course of my continuum, two men pulled me aside on separate occasions to impart the same message.

“Do you know what they say to a woman who practices three days a week, like you? They ask her when she is going to start practicing full time. Do you know what they say to a man with the same number of practice days? They tell him he has the right idea.”

Both said if it is all right for the man, why can’t it be all right for the woman? A third member of the faculty repeated the same comments during one of his presentations on the Pankey philosophy to the entire class. The definite, loud, and clear take-home message: You can have your experience of dentistry, no matter what it is. Just do it. Don’t apologize or try to justify.

Pankey is inclusive and does not offer a cookie-cutter dynamic. They understand that no two practices will ever be alike, and they do not teach conformity. They strive for optimum dentistry. They practice what they preach with some of the finest active-listening skills I have seen demonstrated.

Pankey stresses creating your own experience in dentistry. Dr. Lee Brady, one of my personal heroines, looks at photographs of her patients’ dentistry and sees neither the crown nor the composite, but the snapshots of people’s lives she has been a part of. Isn’t that how we all want to feel? Pankey is learning about that and more. It is all about helping us understand our patients to create lifelong relationships. It isn’t all about occlusion.

They helped us create schedules that reflect our individual visions of dentistry, not someone else’s. It is about valuing our time and realizing that we cannot be everything to every patient. And that is OK! But what Pankey is all about and why it is excellent for women in dentistry is its focus on balance. They are interested in what is appropriate for patients and dentists, including their lives, lifestyles, and dreams.

Please do not think there wasn’t any occlusion discussed. Of course there was, but it was education with benefits - knowledge that was being shared by world-renowned, high-caliber educators who shared and answered any question, even if it was off topic. I felt something I have not experienced in years of solo practice: an inclusion with a group of skilled practitioners. I left feeling enlightened, enriched, and a real part of the Pankey family.

We have a choice in continuing dental education. As women, you shouldn’t miss the Pankey experience. I thank Drs. Brady, Gary DeWood, and Mark Murphy for their welcome and leadership skills. Who knew how much fun four days in Key Biscayne could be without seeing the sun? Think Pankey and you will thank yourself.It’s a place for women.