Idle Thoughts From Not-So-Idle Hands

April 1, 2005
I am celebrating two rather significant events in 2005 - my 50th birthday and my 35th year in dentistry.

I am celebrating two rather significant events in 2005 - my 50th birthday and my 35th year in dentistry. Both events are of particular interest in that the first one makes me think of all things associated with midlife crises, while the second one makes me think of retirement. So what to do with the second half of my life?

I find it interesting that many of my thoughts center on women and how they currently impact my life. This from a woman who went to school in an era where every effort was made to blend, not to differentiate, one’s efforts from the male student population. We were dental students, not female dental students, and heaven help the instructor who in any way indicated our performance was destined to be less than our male counterparts. As a result, I studiously avoided any association with women’s groups, worked throughout dental school as a dental hygienist, was a wife, and even became a mother in my last year of school. I was going to be a dentist, not a female dentist.

Fast forward 23 years, during which time I now have two daughters, one ex-husband, one male partner of 17 years, and nine absolutely fabulous female employees. What did I learn? I learned that without the support of my female colleagues, employees, friends, and family members, I could not possibly have achieved the goals I set for myself so long ago.

My partner and I have a good relationship despite the fact that we are point and counterpoint on the many ways to run a business. Over the years - by process of elimination and not without some emotional travail - we have, in spite of ourselves, been blessed with a successful practice. It is the women though, passing through my personal and professional life, who have truly contributed to my success. Without their dedication to my practice, their support as daycare providers for my children, their love for me because of family or friendly ties, I would not have experienced the emotional growth that has brought me to my two events.

What I so studiously avoided while a dental student, I actively embrace as a professional today. Women offer a unique perspective on dental care and life in general. I enjoy the friendships I have with the men in my life, but I thrive on the interactions I have with the women in my life.

This column will be devoted to the tiny, but significant, ways in which women impact dentistry. I will leave the professional achievements of women to other articles and instead focus on the day-to-day things that women do to make all of our jobs easier. It is my hope that you will enjoy my Idle Thoughts ...

Sharon Szeszycki, DDS
Dr. Szeszycki is a graduate of the dental hygiene program at Southern Illinois University, a BS graduate of the dental hygiene program at Loyola University, and a graduate of the Loyola University School of Dentistry. She has been actively involved for more than 10 years with the Mediation and Peer Review Committees of the Chicago Dental Society. A full-time co-partner in a general dentistry practice in Lombard, Ill., she may be contacted at [email protected].