After joining the faculty at Columbia University, I was faced with a dilemma. I was a well-trained general dentist but I found the curriculum then at the school to be severely antiquated. I was practicing “state-of-the-art” dentistry and they were teaching techniques that were 20 years old. Where would I teach? Through a fortuitous patient interaction, I was introduced to Dr. Louis Mandel, then co-chairman of the University’s Department of Oral Surgery. He offered me a position on his faculty, where I began teaching basic oral surgery and local anesthesia. In practice, I gained a reputation for cosmetics. In 1977, bonding, which I had been taught at Tufts, had not really reached New York.  I began getting referrals from other doctors at the dental school. Because my practice was across the street from the medical center and because I was on the Oral Surgery Faculty, I began treating many of the resident and physician staff. To this day, my practice consists of hundreds of healthcare professionals, MD’s, nurses, psychologists, etc. I became a “Doctor’s Dentist.”

I was also lucky that Dr. Steven Roser took over the Chairman position from Dr. Mandel. Dr. Roser came from Harvard and he and I felt a “Boston bond.” He asked me to help resurrect the Hospital’s General Practice Residency Program, which I was happy to do, joining Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center’s staff. In 1996, I became Director of the Residency Program. I focused on Practice Management, treatment of the medically compromised patient and teaching cosmetic procedures to my residents. Eventually, I sold the multi-specialty group practice I had built to Columbia University so I could spend more time as Director of the Residency Program. In 2000 I was asked to run their flagship faculty practice on E. 60th Street. I had to give up running the Residency Program but I was asked to take on the challenge of the Eastside Practice. I agreed, exiting from most of my academic responsibilities. Running this practice was the most difficult challenge of my career and though I succeeded in making it profitable, I was not happy. I love treating patients and teaching. Administration in a large bureaucracy was something I did not enjoy. It frustrated me. So, after turning the Eastside Faculty Practice around, I asked to go back to my true loves….teaching and patient care. My request was refused.

In 2004, I left full-time academia to return to private practice. A major factor in this decision occurred in 1984 when I became involved with a worldwide organization called DVI (Dental Volunteers for Israel). Trudi Birger, a Holocaust survivor along with French dentists founded this free Jerusalem children’s clinic in 1980. From my first tour as a volunteer, I was hooked. Social responsibility is something I am passionate about. Working in the DVI Clinic, I not only treat children of all backgrounds, religions and ethnicities, I also work with dentists from all over the world. I’ve been going there yearly since the 1990s, and I’m currently the President of the American Friends of DVI. I love spending time building bridges to peace, even if it’s one mouth at a time. I love helping children and I love showing the World that people of different faiths, backgrounds and beliefs can indeed function together and peacefully coexist. This is the least I can do and I hope to do more. Visit American Friends of DVI.