A lot of people my age tend to think of community service as something we need to do in order to add to our growing resumes. In fact, I know of several people who used to serve the community in various capacities, only to have something to talk about in their personal statements while applying to residency programs or MBA’s.
One of those people most definitely was me.
It dawned on me several years later that the benefit of serving the community, was felt most by MYSELF. I was getting the biggest benefit of it all, not anybody else. This realization became so apparent to me yesterday when after an almost 3-month break, I went back to volunteer at Medical Teams International- at their local dental van as their oral surgeon of the day. I was extracting abscessed teeth for people who could not afford to see the dentist and pay out of pocket.
When I’m getting ready to volunteer at this van, on my one day off, at 6 am, I am often thinking to myself, why do I even sign up for things like this? I could have been tucked in bed, dreaming at this time. Or, I could have spent the day reading my favorite book, biking along the lake, and having coffee leisurely or working on some of my other pressing projects. However, after every such clinic at Medical Teams International, on my way back home, I feel incredible. I feel like a much more wholesome, healthy and happier person. And, I often catch myself wondering what it would be like if my whole life was about this. Just a series of clinics, where I am providing care to those that are underserved.
I think of a lot of these things when I consider plans of starting my future practice. Should it be one that takes ‘dental insurance’ and is able to serve only 45% of the population in a given city? Or should it not have any of those barriers put forth by insurance and instead be for everyone and anyone. Should my clinic be accessible to people who have nowhere else to go? Should it be accessible for people with state insurance like Medicaid and for our retired seniors on Medicare?
Should my clinic be accessible to people who have nowhere else to go?
The answer to all of this is yes. My goal is to try and create a clinic that truly breaks those walls. I really want to find myself working day in and day out at a clinic that creates the same feeling as my MTI volunteering clinic days do. The happiness, fulfillment and camaraderie with like-minded team players is what I find myself craving. The plan for such a dream practice is coming along together slowly but surely.
If you have any tips on running a Fee for Service + Medicaid office, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you and learn how to be successful.