For those of you who know me more on a personal level, then you are aware of my love for organized dentistry. Throughout dental school, I had the privilege of serving in numerous leadership roles from being the first delegate of ECU ASDA, ECU SoDM Trustee to North Carolina Dental Society, and the 2015-2016 National ASDA District 4 Trustee. Serving in those various roles, radically positively changed my life and had enhanced my love for dentistry. Because I have served in so many different leadership capacities, over time, I became very consumed with my extracurricular activities, which ultimately caused me to have minimal free time for anything else. It was my #2 priority (school being #1, of course).
At one point I was traveling so much, members of the North Carolina Dental Society joked that I was a part-time dental student…LOL. I have to admit they were correct. Even though I was super busy, I loved every minute of it and thanked God that my school allowed me to be the leader I wanted to be all the way up to graduation.
Once I graduated, I was at a new pivotal point in my career. I have now entered the profession I have worked so hard to become apart of and began to ask myself “now what?” Between graduation and the start of my residency program, I sought out advice from my mentors, family, and friends. I was encouraged by others to devote all of my attention to my program. And I agreed! I knew completing a general practice residency would afford me the ability to adequately and comprehensively treat any patient that I may encounter and it required my undivided attention. I attempted to focus only on my residency for the first month and a half. Although I appreciated my love one’s recommendations, something in me didn’t fill fulfilled. Something was missing, and that something was service.
I have always been the type of person who was never okay with just being a student. I learned a long time ago (the hard way), to never sacrifice the things you love doing for either work or school. I found myself beginning to fall into that same cycle again which previously led to a stressed and depressed version of myself. I was not going to allow that to happen again.
From the moment I had that realization, my goal has been to determine ways that I can be both an excellent resident and still contribute to the profession. Shortly after I changed my mindset, I receive an invitation to speak at the Oklahoma ASDA’s Chapters Career Advancement and Leadership (CAL) Conference about “Organized Dentistry 101”! I was super excited and honored to be asked to share with the students about the in and outs about ASDA and the ADA. Being a leader in ASDA has afforded me the ability to connect with students through the art of public speaking. Over the years, I have been able to share my story with others about how I overcame challenges and used those dark seasons to propel me into the women I am today. Through sharing, I have been able to help others push through as well, in which I believe is my sole purpose in life.
The Conference was fantastic and left my spirit feeling fulfilled. I was able to meet up and connect with a few of my old ASDA buddies as well. Huge shout to Oklahoma ASDA’s President, Lynna Van and the rest of the leadership team for the implementation of an incredible event. Sidenote: Check out my amazing gift they presented me with!! This event served as a reminder. Being a leader in organized dentistry comes with a tremendous responsibility to our profession that I had to learn to be more cognizant of. Due to the training and knowledge that I have received, it is important that I continue to share that with others to inspire future leaders. The most valuable lesson and reminder I have gained through this experience is to NEVER to stop staying committed to what’s important to you. We often make excuses for ourselves by telling ourselves that we don’t have time for certain things when we fail to make it a priority. Make your happiness a priority and watch how your life changes. Since the conference, I have made my public speaking a new priority and setting aside time further develop my gift. I look forward to sharing with everyone soon on what I am doing currently to assist my growth in that area in my life.
Until next time,
LaJoi E. Wiggins, DMD
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson