Considering how few of these awards are given out, I must admit that it’s shocking to me how often I encounter an award winner in person or in one of the many orthodontic Facebook groups. I don’t think there is an unusually high concentration of recipients in the circles I frequent but these award winners have a way of making themselves known and noticeable to the point of being impossible to ignore. While I do know of exceptions, generally the Trilogy of symptoms that are practically pathognomonic for an award winner are:
1) A small or struggling practice (acknowledged or not)
2) An unbridled assurance of one’s correctness when it comes to any topic (usually coupled with a complete lack of achievement or even experience in said area of “expertise”)
3) A total inability to reconcile the difference between how they KNOW things SHOULD be and how things are in reality when it comes to practice size, patient satisfaction, financial success, etc. (other than to claim others must be lying, cheating and stealing if they are doing more or better)
Now, I will admit that many orthodontists, especially residents and young docs, can fall into these same traps and develop symptoms that mimic the Award Trilogy. I certainly had my fair share of unmerited overconfidence early on and it cost me dearly! However, I’ve had enough first hand interaction with and confirmed sightings of award winners surpassing all others in displaying the Award Trilogy to be convinced there is something to this association that seems to rise to the level of causation.
Why does it matter and why am I being so mean to these poor award winners? I’m trying to make a broader point that what we did in high school, college, dental school and orthodontic residency is irrelevant and has no bearing on our clinical competence or business acumen. Zero. The sooner we get this through our collective heads, the better.
I know you are proud of your academic accomplishments but dentists resent you for it, patients don’t know or care (because the AAO refuses to do what it takes to educate them) and you didn’t learn much in school that’s of use in the real world other than learning how to learn. You certainly needed your degrees and certificate but your academic laurels are nothing to rest upon, your Graber Award is no rainmaker and, honestly, being an orthodontic specialist is worth less and less every day. The better you did in residency, the harder it will be for you to come to grips with this reality and get over yourself so you can learn what you need to know to succeed.
So, going back to my original point and the title of this article, those of you who were “the best in the country” in residency have a severe handicap to overcome if you want to do well in life and business. I’m sorry you’ve been hobbled with this burden but I do hope you can see your award for what it is and get beyond it. It’s ironic that overachievement in residency is such an impediment for the vast majority of award recipients. Such is life. We all have burdens to bear!
(1) Or your Milo Hellman Award