I am often asked why I became a dentist. Some of my patients know that I am not the first dentist in the Fletcher family. In fact, if you are ever traveling through Grass Valley, CA with a toothache, feel free to get in touch with my big brother, Dr. Scott Fletcher.
Although my brother was a huge influence in my life and a great example, my career in dentistry actually goes back to childhood. Before anyone asks, it wasn't because of Hermey the Elf on Rudolph's Christmas special. It was actually the influence of my childhood dentist, Dr. Ken Frangadakis.
Dr. Kenny had a big impact on our family. My big sister was his dental assistant for years. My mom worked as his bookkeeper. Once, when I was 8 years old, my 16 year old sister drove me to his office. As a newer driver, she accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and we leapt over the curb and crashed into his waiting room. Dr. Kenny was unfazed. His only response was to accuse our family of beginning the trend for "drive-thru" dentistry.
As I think back on it, he was the one to write letters of recommendation for me when I applied for college and for dental school. His colleagues and friends were some of my instructors while I was in school. Dr. Kenny has influenced every part of my path to become a dentist.
This past week I attended a memorial service for a good friend in the bay area and I was pleased to bump into my dentist, mentor, and friend. As always, he took the time to ask what was going on in my life, he provided a few words of encouragement, shared a few funny memories and reminded me to take great care of my patients.
I am thankful for his impact and influence on my career. Dental school and 18 years of experience have taught me how to restore teeth, but knowing how to take good care of people was largely caught by observing Dr. Kenny.
Keep on smiling,