A profile of GDA's 149th president.
Driven, compassionate, patient, generous and family-oriented, these are words colleagues and family use to describe Dr. Robin Reich, who takes office as the Georgia Dental Association’s 149th president July 23 at the association’s annual convention
in Amelia Island, Florida.
“Since early in high school I knew I wanted to pursue a career in oral health,” says Reich. “Taking care of people, simply that, was the reason.” A high school teacher influenced her decision to become a dentist. At a time when there were few women in dentistry, it never occurred to Reich that she could be a dentist. “I told the teacher I wanted to be a hygienist,” says Reich. My teacher, Mrs. Norman, said, “You are valedictorian. Have you ever thought about being a dentist? I think you should give it some thought.”
Growing up in Michigan, Reich attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate studies and later received her D.D.S. degree from the University
of Detroit School of Dentistry. After graduating from dental school, she says she knew it was a time in her life she had a choice, so she chose Georgia for its warmer weather and better economic climate. “I just knew this is where I needed to be,” says Reich. “I went to Hinman that year. Everybody was so amazingly kind and welcoming that I just knew I needed to be in Georgia.”
Reich packed all her belongings in the back of her non-air conditioned Chevette and headed for Georgia. “When I landed here, I didn’t know if I’d wait tables or do dentistry,” says Reich. “I camped out in Augusta to take my boards, literally camped out,” says Reich. “I didn’t even have an apartment when I came to take boards. I came down here in a camper and I didn’t have any friends in Georgia. My parents met me and had one of those popup campers,” she says.
“When I passed my boards, I put an apartment on my credit card and then started to look for a job. As it turned out one of the sales people from Atlanta Dental helped me find employment in dentistry—so no waiting tables,” says Reich. It’s also in Georgia that she met her husband, Steve.
Reich’s experience ranges from private practice owner to corporate dentistry. She started her career in corporate dentistry, later working as an associate and as a partner in private practice, before owning her own practice in Smyrna. She recently acquired a second practice in Roswell. She says those experiences made her who she is today and gives her perspective of all types of dentistry.” I took something positive with me from every one of those experiences,” says Reich.
Introduction to Organized Dentistry
“In any organization you need to find your niche, something you’re passionate about, so when you’re volunteering your time you’re doing it because of that. I feel strongly about the perception of dentistry on many levels so getting involved in organized dentistry was the perfect fit for me,” says Reich.
She credits Dr. Donna Moses for putting her in her first Georgia Dental Association leadership position as chairman of public relations. She said Moses told her if anyone could make anything out of it, she could. Under Reich’s leadership, the association launched an award-winning public relations program in 2016 that continues to elevate the perception of dentistry in the state. Her success as public relations chair led to
a national leadership position with the American Dental Association. Reich currently serves as chair-elect of the ADA’s Council on Communications, where she is instrumental in the launch of an $18 million national communications campaign over the next three years.
Reich notes she has had many mentors along the way, including Drs. John Freihaut,
Nelson Conger, and Marshall Mann. She recalls a dinner in which one of them impressed upon her the value of GDA LAW days. Recognizing dentist have to take
time off work to attend, they stressed that there is no more value for their time and explained why. With the stroke of a pen, they said, legislators can change the way
you practice. The profession is governed by our legislators. It is the grassroots effort
and the discussions that go on behind the scenes that make the difference. At the time,
Reich said she didn’t fully understand how important it was, but now understands that we can influence legislation. “Anyone can do it. Absolutely anybody because we all know dentistry. There is no better testament to that than our own profession,” she says.
Reich believes the value of a Georgia Dental Association membership goes far beyond providing a network of personal contacts and friendships. The association offers great business and personal insurance for you and your staff and she says you can be assured that they have your best interests in mind. The association also provides public relations to enhance the perception of dentists, a dental buying group to ensure competitive pricing, Medicaid reimbursement assistance, help with specific requirements in Georgia with OSHA, expanded duties courses to train dental assistants, and more. Under her leadership as president, she says the GDA will work to develop business solutions that members need every day in their office.
A Family Affair
While Reich was the first in her family to pursue a career in dentistry, she now shares
her passion with three of her four children. Two of her daughters, Alena and Stacey, are
practicing dentists in Georgia and Megan is a dental student at the Dental College of Georgia. Her son, Joseph is studying engineering at Auburn University. Reich says they share her passion for taking care of people. “I think they saw that I was able to balance work life relationships and I always loved what I did. That I’m sure was influential, but it was completely their decision,” she says.
“Being a grandma is the best thing ever,” says Reich, grandma to Caroline. When she is not doting over her granddaughter, she and her husband can be found pursuing real estate. “We were flipping houses long before it was popular,” she says. We’ve always done it together. Tennis is another hobby she also enjoys.
Reich also is a longtime volunteer at the Ben Massell clinic serving as an adjunct professor. She is also active in the Pierre Fauchard Academy, Hinman, American
College of Dentists, International College of Dentists and the Northwest Study Club. In addition, she regularly volunteer at events such as Give Kids a Smile, Special Olympics and Georgia Mission of Mercy.
Goals as President
Her biggest goal as president, says Reich, is to develop business solutions for dentists and help them understand the business side of dentistry. Another goal is public relations. “We want the perception of dentistry to be positive. It has always been a big thing for me and I felt we could always do more,” she says. “Much of that has happened with the launch of the GDA’s PR campaign, Because I Saw My Dentist, but now we must focus on internal public relations. We want to be able to communicate better within the dental community.”
“The Georgia Dental Association’s single most important reason to exist is exactly our mission statement and that’s to help dentists succeed. Period. It exists solely to support the success of dentists,” says Reich. "As president, I am very excited to see what we are doing on behalf of member dentists and I look forward to a successful year ahead.”