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Message from the 2018 International President

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Dear Fraters and Friends,

This morning I was at the Mayfield Cemetery for the unveiling of my sister Joanne's headstone. She passed away one year ago from ovarian cancer, and moments like these cause me to rethink - or sometimes, just think - about my/our place in the world. Interestingly, as at her funeral service, though some of the Cantor's words spoke of her work life, as both a teacher and a travel agent, most of the "sermon" revolved around Joanne's enthusiasm and attitude, her effect on those around her, and the influence she had on her children on how they lived their lives.

So what does that have to do with our chosen profession of dentistry and dental fraternities like Alpha Omega? I think it revolves around our commitment and responsibilities and our effect on those we work with and work on. The AO triangle is about Fraternalism, Professionalism, and Judaic values.

Fraternally, we need to share our knowledge with each other (think of CE courses) and mentor others, either other dentists who we share patients with and/or students and young alumni. And there's nothing wrong with getting together to share meals and an evening or morning out. In my own life, I'll never forget an older frater taking me under his wing when I returned to Cleveland from my United States Air Force training and encouraging me to get involved in our community, both with AO and with our local Federation. Nine years later I became president of our local chapter and played an active role in our Young Leadership Federation campaign, with the goal of getting others involved in addition to raising dollars for those in need. The guidance I received from him played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development.

And professionally, we owe it to our team and our patients to always try and do our best. Our staff members, like us, work with us to provide for their families, just as we do. They need our support, and we need their support to take care of our patients, from giving them a warm greeting to making sure their treatment is efficient and of top quality, while making the experience as good as they can. And as dental professionals, we need to make sure that our treatment is the best we can deliver; my late father, an AO dentist, used to say. "if you say 'it's good enough', it's not right - and it needs to be done over!" In my own case, delivering the best care I can means that for 41 years I've chosen not to have any wine during the week and going to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. (Our office team huddle begins at 7:00 a.m.. five days a week). Though it means that I have water or ginger ale with our weeknight dinners and that I've missed lots of Cleveland Indians and Cavalier highlights, it allows me to be at my best - to my team and my patients and my family.

And what about the Judaic values that Alpha Omega is based on? It is all about "treating others the way we would like to be treated." The Ritz Carlton management takes those words one step further; they say that their teams are taught to "treat others the way they want to be treated." In either case, the point is that we should always consider the feelings and desires of those who choose to come to us for their dental care - from the position of the dental chair to their involvement in choosing the treatment options that "works for them." With every patient encounter, we are, in a sense, "giving back" and changing their lives, whether it's cleaning their teeth or doing a reconstruction...really, is their a better feeling than having a patient saying to you "you've changed my life; I'm able to smile again!"?

In a recent phone conversation I had with a retired AO frater, I explained that I called him to thank him for renewing his membership year-after-year, even after putting down his handpiece. When I asked him why he continued to be a member, he told me that he will always have a "soft spot" in his heart for Alpha Omega. Explaining this, he told me that in the summer before he began dental school at USC, his father - an AO dentist - passed away and that the Fraternity gave his a scholarship, without which he could not have gone to school. By continuing to sending in his registration, he felt he was literally and figuratively "paying his dues" and giving back to AO and our profession.

Like my sister Joanne, this frater and many like him in our profession understand that their legacy is all about living responsible lives and passing knowledge and opportunities to those that follow them - both in their work lives and in their home lives.

L'Dor va Dor....

Steve Marsh
2018 International President

50 W. Edmonston Drive #206 
Rockville, MD 20852 USA 
Phone: +1 (877) 368-6326 
Direct: +1 (301) 738-6400 

Executive Director: Heidi Weber 
Email: hweber@ao.org

© 2018 Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity All Rights Reserved.

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