Each year students and residents at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry complete more than 100,000 patient appointments as part of their professional preparation. At the culmination of their education, they embark on the next stage of their careers to impact the future of dentistry.
The Jetsons, that animated sitcom of a futuristic family so popular in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, offers an interesting parallel to the incredible technological changes in the dental profession since Dr. Maxine Feinberg, American Dental Association president and 2015 commencement speaker, began practicing more than 30 years ago.
“Do you remember they had a video phone on the wall?” mused Feinberg, a New Jersey-based periodontist. “It seemed outrageous and absurd. Yet today we carry cellphones and iPads with us, and we FaceTime and Skype, and it’s just part of our everyday lives.
“So much of what will be a part of our everyday lives in the future … hasn’t even been dreamed of yet,” Feinberg shared with an audience of graduates, faculty, family and friends during Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry commencement exercises May 27 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.
She listed some of the innovations brought to the dental profession during the duration of her career: cured composites, electric handpieces, cone beam CT scanners and electronic patient records.
“What made those years so exciting is that many of the changes that occurred and so much of what happened was made by my generation,” said Feinberg. “We live that renaissance; this is a profession that doesn’t stand still. Quite the contrary, it rewards people who work hard to make a difference, to improve outcomes for their patients and who aren’t satisfied by the status quo.
“We are already seeing fundamental changes in the way we do things,” Feinberg said, referring to the integration of medicine and dentistry, with dentists screening for high blood pressure and diabetes.
“I believe we are on the verge of another renaissance. I don’t know what’s next, but I know you will drive the revolution,” she told graduates.
During commencement Dr. Lawrence Wolinksy, TAMBCD dean, welcomed families and friends, and Dr. Brett Giroir, executive vice president and CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, encouraged graduates.
“As you leave here today I am absolutely certain that you are scientifically prepared,” Giroir told graduates. “But I hope that you remember that science is really the start of your credentials,” he continued, listing Aggie core values such as leadership, integrity and selfless service to lead to patients’ ultimate physical and mental healing.
Judy Morgan, a member of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, brought greetings from the system, and Dallas-based pediatric dentist Dr. Robert Morgan ’78, ’80, also a Texas A&M alumnus, welcomed graduates into the Texas A&M Association of Former Students.
Another TAMBCD alum, Dr. Patricia Blanton ’67, ’74, ’76, a member of the Baylor Oral Health Foundation’s board of directors, announced the recipient of the 2015 Centennial Award: Dr. Clinton Andrew Miller. The award, established in 2005 to commemorate TAMBCD’s 100th anniversary, is given to a graduating dental student the faculty believes best demonstrates excellence in professionalism, leadership, clinical dentistry, patient management and professional service.