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. Michael P. Clarkson in the Northern District.
When and how did you become a GDA member?
I’ve been a GDA member from the first day I began my dental career. I wanted to stay connected to our community of dentists and our voice as an industry within the great state of Georgia. There was never any question for me.
Why is being part of a professional group important?
Strength in numbers! Not only does being united enable us to protect our interests as dentists, it also affords us paths to professional development personally as well. No man is an island, as they say, and our best selves can only be found in community with others. I am so thankful for this organization for giving me an avenue with which I can stay connected to my profession as a whole.
What is the single most important thing, in your opinion, GDA can do to help members?
The way the GDA keeps a close eye on laws and regulation that could help or harm our profession is without a doubt it’s most important function. The protection they provide us from outside forces is paramount and cannot be overstated.
What is your most memorable GDA experience?
Probably the first time I attended Law Day. Seeing first hand how legislation is passed is a terrifying and eye opening experience! It is unbelievable how much hard work the GDA puts in for the dentists of Georgia, and being there will make you want to be a member for life. Our voice is powerful, and no one can be expected to advocate on our behalf besides us. I try to attend Law Day at the Capital building every year, and I encourage every other member to do the same.
What advice would you give to an aspiring dental student?
I’d say get to know your professors on a more personal level. They may seem unapproachable sometimes, but they are usually like most dentists, very unique and interesting people.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I have a posterboard my first grade teacher made where I apparently said I wanted to be a chef! I do love to cook and have always had fun with it, so I guess I was on to something even way back then.
What was your first job?
I gave swimming lessons to kids starting when I was 14 years old at the local pool, and continued teaching swimming even after college.
Why did you decide to become a dentist?
I decided my junior year in college. A friend had mentioned dentistry in passing, and when I thought about it later on it made perfect sense. I had always been self conscience of my own smile, so I connected deeply with the thought of helping others in that regard. I actually had a feeling of peace and clarity come over me and I just knew that was what I was supposed to be. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Hunting and fishing tends to pair well with cooking, so I try to do those things when I can. But, my wife and I have three kids all under the age of ten, so we focus on spending as much time with them as we can. And they love to get in the kitchen to help me cook, so that’s always fun.
What is your all-time dream vacation?
I’d love to visit New Zealand one day. With such an amazingly diverse geography there, I find it fascinating.
Without saying, “I am a dentist,” what would you say if someone asked what you do?