Learn about one member's GDA experience.
This column highlights GDA members talking about their path to dentistry and the value they find in GDA membership. This month, we hear from Dr. Chris DeLeon in the Southeastern District. .
Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A marine biologist OR a dentist. My dad worked on me early, and I soon realized my stomach wasn’t cut out for the sea.
Q: What was your first job?
My twin brother and I helped maintain a small multiacre horse farm in Augusta. We bush-hogged, painted fences, landscaped. Driving by the farm every day, we relished how pristine it looked. I learned then to take pride in hard work.
Q: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Like most, I wanted to have a positive impact on people’s quality of life and have
a quality of life of my own! Dentistry allows us this opportunity.
Q: How did you become a GDA member?
The Dental College of Georgia makes it clear that organized dentistry is important. Our entire class were automatically members of American Student Dental Association, but I chose to take a leadership role year one. I have been involved ever since. By virtue of being students at the school, we all became members of The American Student Dental Association. I remember our former Dean, Dr. Connie Drisko, saying at the GDA hosted welcome reception, “If you are not at the table, you are on the table.” My family encouraged me to become involved in ASDA and I followed my sister’s lead becoming chapter president.
Q: What was your first GDA event?
As an ASDA leader, I regularly attended the GDA meetings. Following graduation, I was fortunate to have joined a group practice that really values and encourages involvement with the GDA and our specialty association. Attending the annual session is a tradition in our practice that spans several decades! And in 2016, I attended while my senior partner, Dr. Tom Broderick, served as GDA president.
Q: What advice would you give a dental student about GDA?
Like most things in life and career, your experience will be determined by your effort and attitude. Basically, the more you put in, the more you get out—step up, do your part. Even if that is simply being an active member. I believe that the quality of both our work and personal lives are largely due to the fact that we have maintained a cohesive voice as a profession. To preserve what we love about the profession, and to make progress in the challenges we face today, we must work together!
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Or how do you spend a typical weekend?
Like everybody else, spending time with my family and friends. My wife Maggie and I are especially enjoying the aunt and uncle role. We have a wire-haired pointing griffon named Colonel who loves the water. I enjoy playing golf and guitar. I am also known to play a mean harmonica
Q: Have you made any friends or long relationships because of GDA?
Through the GDA, I have built relationships across the state, which has been so helpful. If I have a patient or friend moving to a new area, I usually have a doctor who I know personally who can help them.
The annual convention serves as the de facto dental school class reunion. Even with your closest friends, it is hard to find time in your busy schedule to go visit them. The GDA meeting makes it easy for folks to plan ahead and commit to spending some time together, all while receiving CE and serving as a business expense!
Q: What is the single most important thing, in your opinion, the GDA can do to help members?
On our behalf, the Association should be advocating for the patients we serve (combating laws that adversely affect quality of care or ease of practice) and providing dental health awareness to the patients we serve (consumer awareness campaigns). To many, it may not be the most tangible, or exciting benefit, but I think it should always be at the association’s core value.
Q: What advice would you give to people aspiring to go to dental school to become a dentist?
There are two qualities that are required to be a successful dentist: a commitment to excellence and compassion for others. If you are not a detail-oriented individual, you may want to pursue another career path.
Q: Without saying “I am a dentist,” what would you say if someone asked, “What do you do?”
I’m a smile maker.