As a pediatric dentist, I have come across all kinds of patients and parents. Most of the families I see are truly delightful to work with. Some of my patients are so sweet and kind that they make me really happy that I had chosen this profession. Still others provide a daily dose of humor that makes me laugh so hard that I have tears in my eyes.
Most parents express their appreciation for the care we provide to their child in some very challenging circumstances. However, occasionally a parent can make my job very difficult – overindulgent parents expecting miracles as we treat their “little angels”. These parents provide no discipline at home and then expect the trip to the dentist to be like a trip to Disney World and are disappointed when their overprotected child cannot cope when having treatment done. Their disappointment comes out as anger towards me, the dentist.
About five years ago, I had a week filled with parents like this. By the end of that week, I was exhausted. That weekend, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to do this job forever. To give myself a mental lift, I decided to settle on a end date, i.e. my retirement date. Taking multiple things into consideration, I thought I would aim for five years. Being the summer of 2015, this meant I would plan to retire sometime in 2020. Thinking a bit more about it, I settled on Monday, November 2nd. My first day of work with Dentistry for Children and Adolescents was November 2nd, 2000. So, this date would mark the twentieth anniversary of my starting with the practice. Twenty years in the year 2020 just sounded right. Over the past five years, when dealing with difficult parents, thinking about this date has been my way of coping.
Well, today marks ten months, to the day, of my selected retirement date. My office manager asked me to write a short letter to distribute to families over the next months as they come in for their dental appointments. Today, I put pen to paper (or rather – fingers to the keyboard) and wrote out that letter.
Dear Parents and Guardians,
For the past twenty years, I have been blessed to work with my amazing partners and staff at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents. During those years, I have had the privilege to provide dental care for your children. It has been a pleasure to have developed professional relationships and, in some cases, friendships with the families I have treated.
Over my life, my career has taken a few “turns in the road”, starting with teaching and research at the U of M, to private practice where I have enjoyed guiding patients to having the best dental health that is possible. Looking ahead, in November I will be transitioning to the next phase of my life. What that phase will involve has yet to be finalized. I have many hobbies and interests, some of which I have highlighted in my personal blog (ericksonsheirlooms.com). If you want to follow along with what I am doing, please do so. I have other ideas that I may pursue as well.
Thank you for your confidence in me over the years. I wish you and your children all the best in the future.
Pamela R Erickson, DDS, PhD
While I will enjoy the next ten months as a pediatric dentist, I look forward to the freedom that retirement will give me.