Alumni Spotlight: Advice for the Class of 2023
Commencement: Then and Now (Photos from GSDM Archives)
GSDM alums do not stop being students the second they graduate. Dentists are forever learners, constantly educating themselves on new techniques, technologies, and teachings. We spoke to five GSDM alums about their paths after graduating dental school and what advice they have for the Class of 2023.
William (Bill) Eaves DMD 86
Passion – that is the key thing the Class of 2023 needs to remember as they embark on their career.
When Eaves was a student at GSDM, he didn’t have a game plan for after he graduated; his goal was to simply finish. He said he was fortunate to get hired at the Dorchester House, sparking his interest in community healthcare. This first job ultimately led him to becoming the Lynn Community Health Center Dental Director; he also runs a private practice, William Eaves DMD Family Dentistry.
He urges the Class of 2023 to expose themselves to many specialties, but ultimately to focus on what makes them the happiest.
“For me, I didn’t recognize that community health would be such a rewarding experience [regarding] delivering dental care to people, the operative word there being care,” Eaves said. “Dentistry is an intimate environment, and people are … entrusting you to deliver that care. So, if you care about how well you do that, that’s going to serve you well [in] the long term.”
Eaves strongly encourages new graduates to continue to foster or to develop relationships with a mentor. While he knew he wanted to practice dentistry in the greater Boston area, he credits the Dorchester House director’s mentorship and guidance for his continued work in community healthcare, 37 years after his Commencement.
“It’s important to find a mentor when you come out because you don’t know how much you don’t know,” Eaves said. “And being in the presence of someone who has done it for a while, made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and can guide you, is a great way to matriculate forward. Because the day you graduate, and they give you a degree does not mean you’re a success.”
When the new graduates enter the workforce, Eaves wants them to focus on the reason they got into dentistry and to maintain a balance between their personal and professional life.
“I just recognize the blink of time that has transpired from my graduation in 1986 until now, and you have to find that balance,” he said. “You have to recognize, figure out why you went into it and what you want to get out of it.”
James Lee CAS 09 CAMED 10 DMD 14
Growing up above his father’s (Ted Lee DMD 86) dental practice, James Lee felt destined to become a dentist in the greater Boston area. He fell in love with the way his father was a fixture in the community. Immediately following his GSDM graduation, he joined his father’s practice, Boston Family Dental – at which he has been ever since – but he also wanted a platform to become a voice for patients in the community and for new dentists, like himself.
In his latest role as the District 1 representative for the American Dental Association’s New Dentist Committee, he works to highlight issues and direct resources facing dentists in their first 10 years of practice, or “early career dentists,” to the dental leaders within the American Dental Association and the Board of Trustees.
Lee wants new graduates to know that their voices are heard, and it is worth expressing their issues, as well as trying to help find solutions.
“This year, I’ve gotten a chance to be a part of the conversations about shaping our profession and the direction of our profession,” he said. “And it’s so important that new dentists, like our new graduates, that their voice is heard; the issues, the policies, and the perspectives that are important to them. That their issues are heard, addressed, and valued. And I believe they are.”
The Class of 2023 is joining the dental community of leaders, and they need to be aware of the power they now have, Lee said.
“I think that dentists are leaders in the community,” he said. “I think that’s one aspect where sometimes students don’t think about that, that when they graduate, they’re going to be looked upon as leaders on not just dental health, oral health, but also health in general, also community issues. So, it’s on us to step up to the plate and make sure we live up to that responsibility.”
He noted that, as leaders, it is the new graduates’ duty to ensure that they are continuing to learn and are always developing this skillset.
“We are in an age where technology is changing, materials are improving, techniques; we need to make sure that we’re always open and always thinking about how we can bring the best care to our patients,” Lee said. “Part of that is to always be learning and always be growing and having that growth mindset about not being closed off to opportunities and innovation that’s going to happen throughout their career, which I think is super exciting.”
Dr. Maryam Shomali CAS 87 ENDO 93
Shomali always envisioned working as an endodontist in a Boston suburb and eventually owning her own practice. She has made that dream a reality, as she is now the owner of Wellesley Endodontics in Wellesley.
Shomali advises the Class of 2023 to actively participate in online forums and attend Continuing Education (CE) courses as one way to achieve their own dental dreams. Within the forums and CE courses, there are opportunities to learn from others more experienced in the field and open discussions.
“Dentistry is constantly evolving with new technology, research, and techniques,” Shomali said. “It is important to stay current with these changes.”
Shomali also encourages the Class of 2023 to seek out mentors and build a one-on-one connection with someone who has more experience in the dental field.
“A mentor can provide guidance, advice, and support as you navigate your career,” she said.
Most importantly, she stresses that it’s vital that new dentists remember to take care of themselves physically and mentally.
“Dental work can be physically demanding, and it’s important to take breaks, practice good ergonomics, and exercise regularly,” Shomali said. “Dental work can be stressful, so it’s important to find ways to manage your stress and maintain a work-life balance.”
Michael S. Hauser DMD 77
When Hauser came to GSDM as part of the first four-year graduating class, he had one plan in mind: following in the footsteps of his uncle by becoming an orthodontist.
To his surprise, he found he didn’t enjoy working with wire during his preclinical orthodontics classes and soon realized he had to find another career path. He praises Dr. Thomas Kilgore, oral & maxillofacial surgery professor, saying his mentorship and his fourth-year oral surgery course led him to want to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Hauser wants new graduates to realize that dental school is step one towards becoming a dental professional. By the end of his DMD program, he had a lengthy path ahead of him to become a surgeon.
“Dental school, especially a really great one like Boston University, gives you about as strong a foundation as you can receive in this country, but, again, it’s only the foundation,” Hauser said. “You have to build on top of that.”
After graduating from GSDM, he went on to a GPR residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, graduating in 1978, then a residency and a fellowship in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital, finishing in 1981. After his fellowship, he received his MD at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1983, then a PGY-2 at Harvard Surgical Service, ending in 1984.
Once he completed his education, he stayed in dental academia in his roles of assistant professor at Emory University and associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Case Western Reserve University, the School of Dental Medicine. He also was chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and owned his own private practice.
For the Class of 2023, he advises them to never stop learning about dental medicine. In an ever-changing and adapting field, there will always be more to learn. From obtaining more formal education to developing close relationships with mentors, Hauser said there are many resources to help build upon their dental education.
“The dental medicine that you practice 30 years from now will be vastly different, much more technologically complex and involve concepts of care that are not even conceived now,” Hauser said. “When I graduated in 1977, there were no light cured composites, amalgam was everywhere on posterior teeth. There were no CAT Scans, no CAD/CAM, no implants, no lasers, no sleep dentistry, no oral sedation, and most dentists worked standing up with no assistant.”
Hauser said the future of dentistry is in good hands with the Class of 2023.
“I graduated in 1977 and I finished practicing in 2020, so that’s 43 years,” Hauser said. “Even at 42 years and 364 days, I learned something every day.”
Frank E. Schiano CAS 01 DMD 06 AEGD 07 ORTHO 19
As a rare quintuple terrier, Schiano holds BU and GSDM in a special place in his heart.
Schiano said his GSDM didactic and clinical education was “second to none.” While at GSDM, he added that he made sure to take advantage of all his mentors, professors, and patients’ experiences, which gave him a strong foundation to get where he is today.
“I have worked so hard to accomplish these goals and to arrive at a point in my life where I can genuinely say I have achieved professionally all the things I imagined as a child,” he said. “Now, I am serving in a role that I never thought possible and the major contributor to my success was being a part of the BUGSDM community.”
Schiano urges the Class of 2023 to always strive to make themselves the best that they can be – both in the dental field and in life.
“Associate yourself with family and colleagues that contribute to your consistent personal and professional growth,” Schiano said. “Time ticks faster than you could ever imagine. Take advantage of every opportunity to get to the next level.”
After Commencement, he said it’s perfectly acceptable not to know exactly what comes next. Schiano urges those who are unsure to take their time to decide what their future holds and take advantage of different opportunities. For those who do know what they want to do, he wants them to seize the moment and focus on achieving their desired goal.
“You have such incredible responsibility to your patients and colleagues to promote oral health and constantly strive to be a caring, empathetic, and proficient healthcare provider,” Schiano said. “Lean on your peers and don’t fear failure. “
Although Commencement marks the end of their GSDM education, the GSDM community will always be there for support, Schiano said.
“We are all here for you,” he said. “If you can think of a question, or if you are anxious and doubt your future, reach out. The profession of dentistry is certainly changing, and you have all the resources necessary to help you adapt to the current and ever-evolving landscape.”