March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the many achievements and contributions that women have made to our society over the course of hundreds of years. International Women’s Day was also celebrated around the world earlier this month on March 8.
I can easily name many recognizable women in present time that many of us look up to. But today, I am going to take the opportunity in this blog post to highlight two that so many of us know and love: Dr. Maxine Feinberg, a former ADA president, and Maria Maranga, our current ADA vice president.
When I was a relatively new member of our profession, I knew there was a lot I didn’t know, and I really struggled with finding resources and mentors as I navigated my path. As they have for so many others before me, Drs. Feinberg and Maranga were instrumental in helping me narrow my focus towards my purpose, and have always been present with friendly advice and wise counsel.
One of the best lessons they both shared was the importance of being deliberately thoughtful with both my actions and my words. Navigating the world of practice ownership, organized dentistry, advocacy, and leadership can be difficult and confusing. This was something I struggled with. Taking a step back and looking at things with a 30,000-foot view of a situation is often the best way to determine a smart path forwards. And, as dentists, we tend to be myopic in the things we do. I have learned to be aware of both of these and am able now to incorporate decision-making skills taught by both Drs. Feinberg and Maranga into many of my everyday decisions in life.
Mentors have this way of seeing the world through a lens differently than we may view it, and give advice and offer thoughtful opinions to foster and nurture forward progress for generations to come. They both have done exactly that. Dr. Feinberg, as ADA president, accomplished so much, and continues to inspire and guide countless dental students, residents, and new (and seasoned) dentists along their paths. Dr Maranga does exactly the same. They are the women to whom I refer so many to when I get asked questions about path and purpose.
The best piece of advice I can give from where I am now is to find your people: your team, your cheerleaders, your mentors, your circle. Strong women (and men) are some of your best supporters. Remember that the guidance you receive from those who have come before you, comes with the wisdom of many successes, and many failures too. Be teachable, and you will continue to grow and learn.
Dr. Amrita R. Patel grew up in Chappaqua, New York, and graduated from the New York University College of Dentistry in 2011 before completing a general practice residency at the Nassau University Medical Center. Dr. Patel is a general dentist in private practice with her father, Dr. Rohit Z. Patel, in Westchester County, New York. She chaired the New York State Dental Association New Dentist Committee, is the International College of Dentists – USA Section Fellow Ambassador of Social Media, and currently serves the new dentists on the American Dental Association Council on Dental Benefit Plans for the 2020-21 term. She is also among the recipients of the 2021 ADA 10 Under 10 Awards.