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. Will Shin in the Northern District.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a garbage truck driver more than anything. My parents still tell stories of me leaping out of bed whenever I heard the trucks coming early in the morning so that I could watch them work. I’d even follow the trucks and my parents would have to come find me to bring me back inside!
What was your first job?
As a high school senior, I worked as a courier delivering medical records to various hospitals and clinics in Los Angeles and Orange County. Back then, I learned to navigate the land using a beat up Thomas Guide (a spiral-bound paperback atlas) under a tight schedule. I learned some good shortcuts and valuable lessons about traffic patterns in a busy metropolitan area that I am still thankful for. I attribute my sense of direction and comfort for reading maps from my first job.
Why did you decide to become a dentist?
I love working with my hands and have high standards for precision. I enjoy life sciences and social settings where I can form close relationships with people. Dentistry provides a path where my personality and interests can thrive. As a dental student, I kept an open mind and explored all my options. It was during my hospital rotation that I found Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. When I explored further, I was hooked. I was fascinated with the scope of practice, complexities and the way it changes lives
How did you become a GDA member?
As a student and resident in multiple states, I found that an organized dentistry association is an effective way to get connected, learn about state-specific issues and forge new relationships with colleagues. My wife and I moved to Atlanta from New York City this past summer and I knew I wanted to get involved and start attending GDA meetings. I was excited to meet new people in my new home state of Georgia!
What was your first GDA event?
Just after enrolling in the GDA, I was greeted with a personal phone call from the GDA headquarters to welcome me to Georgia. I attended the Northern District Dental Society Executive Council Meeting at the GDA headquarters and I was met with warm greetings, smiles and enthusiasm! The members I met are clearly passionate about helping their community, advancing the dental profession of Georgia and getting involved in charity. I was most impressed!
What advice would you give a dental student about GDA?
Get involved and connected with your local district! There are a lot of issues that threaten our profession and the GDA works hard to protect our privileges. This continual work behind the scenes is what allows us to thrive in our industry and most of all, take care of our patients. Individual participation from members is crucial because it helps create a collective voice for providers to help guide the GDA.
As a member of your state and local district, you learn firsthand about relevant topics, issues and challenges that face our profession. You are also up to date about what the GDA is doing to improve and advance the practice of dentistry in Georgia. Being involved in organized dentistry is a great way to get connected to others who share your passion and career goals. It is also one of the ways you can participate to further help the industry with input and suggestions. It is each one of our own responsibilities to help the profession and the industry to thrive.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Or how do you spend a typical weekend?
Family has always been the number one priority in life. My wife and I are expecting our first child in January 2018 and we are excited to become parents! When I’m not working, I’m in the pool. I love to swim and have been an avid swimmer since I was 12 years old. Swimming is therapy and it helps keep me balanced. Outside of the pool, I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen with my wife trying out new recipes and enjoying
good food. Our weekends involve spending a lot of time cooking, exploring our new neighborhood, and watching a lot of football. I’m also a huge fanboy of Sci-Fi and comics.
Have you made any friends or long relationships because of GDA?
So far, I met other Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and was pleased to see other dental specialists represented. I am hoping to forge great long-lasting relationships with all the good people in the GDA.
What is the single most important thing, in your opinion, the GDA can do to help members?
This was a tough question since I’m starting to realize how many benefits there are for members of the GDA. For providers, our practice of dentistry is becoming an increasingly complicated field with new laws, policies and regulations. The GDA can help its members by simplifying these new laws, policies and regulations because it is quite difficult to keep up to date and informed.
What advice would you give to people aspiring to go to dental school to become a dentist?
Never give up! You hear it all the time, but it is true! I didn’t get accepted my first time applying to dental school. After the first rejection I was crushed. I thought a lot about the time, effort and resources I spent on applying and it was painful. For the following cycle, I instead focused on the things I was in complete control of including: applying early, shadowing more doctors, perfecting my application and improving my interview skills. Those were tough years and it gave me (a lot of) time to reevaluate whether dentistry was something I really wanted to do. Being told “no” pushed me to work even harder and in the end it made me appreciate where I am now even more because of all the hard work and dedication I put in.
What is your all-time dream vacation?
To see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
Without saying “I am a dentist,” if someone asked, “What do you do?” what would you say?
I diagnose and treat diseases, defects and injuries involving hard and soft tissues of the mouth, jaws, face and neck.