Three Generations, One Profession

Dec. 22, 2014
I was born on Sesame Street. As a kid, Luke Skywalker taught me you shouldn't always go into the family business. In junior high, Kurt Cobain showed me it was better to be unpopular.

I was born on Sesame Street. As a kid, Luke Skywalker taught me you shouldn't always go into the family business. In junior high, Kurt Cobain showed me it was better to be unpopular.

I am Generation X. Superficially, that means I wore flannel in the '90s (I did). A deeper exploration of my generation is the subject of much debate these days. Did we move back in with our parents because we were lazy ... or because we came of age during a limited job market and lots of student debt? I've read that baby boomers live to work and Gen Xers work to live. I think I agree with that generalization.

While Gen X and baby boomers fight over things such as disappearing Social Security, there's this new group coming in hot on our heels called Generation Y, aka, the Millennials. They're entering dentistry in record numbers, thanks to more dental schools opening, so it's time we all start figuring out one another. Every place where dentists congregate, from dental associations to practices, now have three generations that have to play nice together. That means bridging generation gaps, such as figuring out the differences in how we communicate and become motivated.

One of the most striking cultural phenomena that has shaped Millennials is technology. Baby boomers and Gen Xers remember the first time we saw an email or put a phone in our pocket. But the Millennials grew up being connected to the rest of the world at every waking moment. That has to have a profound impact.

In this issue, Dr. Ryan Dulde leads us through a humorous and thoughtful exploration of the Millennial culture from a Millennial perspective. You'll be hiring this generation as associates and employees (if you haven't already), so I know you'll be interested to learn from him. Or perhaps you're a Millennial reading this, in which case I think you'll agree that Dr. Dulde represents you very well.

I lecture to Millennials fairly frequently at dental schools and American Student Dental Association meetings. I've found them to be talented, sharp, and eager to learn. While Gen X and baby boomers sulk about the profitable days of dentistry apparently being over, Millennials don't know any differently and are hitting the ground running.

Dr. Ann Nasti from Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine can vouch for that. In this issue, Dr. Nasti shares the successes of her Discover Dental School program, which invites college students to spend a week in a dental student's scrubs. They get their hands on traditional and digital impressions at the same time. Let me state that again - college students are using intraoral scanners and milling their own restorations.

As my fellow Gen Xers enter their 40s and our baby boomer parents enter their 60s, the teen and 20-something Millennials are giving every indication they will be an impressive generation. Baby boomers will be noted in the history books by what they accomplished. Gen X may be defined by what we didn't or couldn't do; the jury is still out on that one. Millennials may very well overshadow my generation. Well, at least we listened to better music.

Chris Salierno, DDS
email: [email protected]

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