I was recently selected to become a member of the Oregon Dental Association Leadership Academy. As a participant of this group, I am learning how to become a more effective leader at both the community and state level.
Here is my interview for the April 2018 Membership Matters, a publication for the Oregon Dental Association, about my involvement in the Academy.
1. What most excites you about being part of the inaugural ODA Leadership Academy?
I am so excited to have been selected for this inaugural class! We need more women in leadership roles and I am looking forward to learning how I can become a better leader so that I can mentor other women and lead my team better. My ODA Leadership Academy co-members are really interesting people with good ideas and I am looking forward to learning from them. They are also a lot of fun!
2. What do you think the true role of a leader is?
Strong leaders are service oriented, putting the needs of those they are serving above their own. A leader can have tremendous impact in the world through this type of humble service.
Leaders also need to have a vision for where they are leading their team. Leaders hold the map for their whole group, and the clearer the vision, the less distractions and detours on the journey. When the group hits adversity (which is inevitable), the leader’s vision will guide the team through it successfully.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, leaders need to have integrity. Without integrity, leadership does not have lasting effects and can, in fact, be harmful.
3. Who has been a primary mentor/influential person in your life and what have you learned from him/her?
It is hard for me to pick one mentor because I have had such great mentors both on the surgical side as well as the public health/epidemiology side of my career.
I have had two mentors who really helped me in my career as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
My first mentor was Dr. James V. Johnson, Chief of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ben Taub General Hospital at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston. Ben Taub is one of the busiest trauma centers in the United States. Dr. Johnson’s belief in me and encouragement in my career really helped me to gain confidence as I progressed through my residency. He trusted me to operate the most complex cases and saw to it that I got to operate those cases. His faith in me gave me courage to persevere through adversity. I feel lucky to have trained with him.
My second surgical mentor was a cardiothoracic surgeon named Dr. Gene Guinn who I worked with while obtaining my general surgery training at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston. Dr. Guinn’s belief in my technical abilities as a surgeon and his encouragement in my surgical career have stayed with me all these years. I can still hear him saying to me in his Texan accent “Cut, don’t scratch!”
Both of these surgeons saw me as a surgeon first and a woman second. Their confidence in me, lack of misogyny and encouragement in my chosen career have provided me with the inner strength to keep going when times get hard. They also taught me the joy of surgery and helping others.
Finally, on the public health side, I received excellent mentoring from my doctoral advisor Professor Andy Olshan at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Dr. Olshan helped me develop as a scientist by improving my critical thinking skills. He taught me the importance of framing a scientific question. I learned from him that the answers that you are seeking are often found in how the question is asked. If you ask the wrong question, you are likely to get the wrong answer.
4. Would you rather be good and on time, or perfect and late?
Definitely good and on time. Perfection is seriously overrated and being late just makes everyone cranky!
5. What do you most appreciate about the profession of dentistry?
I believe that we have the absolute best profession in the world! Physician colleagues often tell me of how unhappy they are in their profession due to managed care and how much medicine has changed during the past thirty years. They feel that they don’t have a say over their practices or their patient’s needs. Many feel that they are being told how to practice by third parties and they really dislike it. The joy has gone out of their professional lives.
As oral health providers, we have an opportunity to shape where our profession is going in ways that medicine does not. There are still opportunities for us as a group to shape our future. For some of us, private practice is our calling. For others, the corporate model makes the most sense. But I believe it is in the choosing that we define our profession and protect it.
We are also extremely lucky in that we not only provide needed health services to members of our communities but also that we serve our communities by providing jobs, mentoring young people interested in the profession and giving philanthropically through participation in groups such as Medical Teams International and Mission of Mercy.
6. Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with your colleagues and/or the aspiring dentist?
Never give up on your dream! Work hard, tell the truth and put the needs of others above your own. Treat others as you wish to be treated and have fun! Learn from your mistakes and have compassion when others make mistakes. Take time each day to remember how blessed you are and you in turn will be blessed.
Clean drinking water is of primary importance for the health and prosperity of all communities. It is a precious resource which not only supports life but also leads to freedom for women, especially in developing nations.
My eyes were open to this fact while providing oral surgical care in Sub-Saharen Africa several years ago. I was shocked to learn that the countries that I was serving had an infant/child mortality rate of 30% due to diarrhea caused by drinking or bathing in contaminated water.
I learned that the task of finding potable water fell to women and children since it is uncompensated work. Women and their children must walk many miles to find water in these communities — sometimes up to eight hours a day. In addition, carrying containers of water back home weigh about 40 pounds on average.
Thus the quest for clean water is back-breaking drudgery. Women and children who must walk miles for their water don’t have time for attending school, playing games, reading or learning. This results in a cycle of poverty and disease for these communities which will have no end unless we take action.
As a female surgeon who is highly educated; who owns property; who has the right to vote and who has access to clean water every day, I urge you to come out this next weekend at the World Vision Walk for Water being held here in Lake Oswego. Come and walk with Geisler Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Let’s all end the long walk for water for these communities. Healthy women lead to healthier communities. Healthy children have a future. You can make a difference.
It seems everyone these days is calling themselves an expert at dental implant surgery.
Some dentists take a short course in order to learn how to place dental implants in a few months (or weeks) of training. Others learn how to place dental implants during a specialty training program yet do not have hospital based surgical training or hospital admitting privileges to take care of you if something goes wrong. Finally, there are surgeons who may have similar training experiences and qualifications but have not achieved an expert mastery level (which requires at least ten years of practice after completion of training).
How then do you determine exactly who is an expert dental implant surgeon when there are many differences in training and experience?
As a patient, you want a surgeon who not only places hundreds of implants a year but who also has many years of surgical experience with excellent outcomes. You want a surgeon who uses technology as tools to improve surgical outcomes but doesn’t rely exclusively on it in order to compensate for deficiencies in surgical technical skill or experience. You want a surgeon who works well with your dentist to optimize esthetic outcomes for the dental implant crown that attaches to the implant. You want a surgical team that is skilled and handles your type of case every day. You want a clear and precise understanding of the financial cost of your surgery. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you want a surgeon and staff who will treat you with respect, kindness and compassion.
Not all surgeons are created equal. In an article published in the New York Times in 2013, investigators conducted a study by videotaping surgeons performing the same procedure. They found that a small group of surgeons had superior technical skills which made for better outcomes for their patients. These expert surgeons were gentle with tissues, had better hand-eye coordination and performed the procedures faster. The result was that the expert surgeon’s patients had less pain, infection and need for re-operation.
At GeislerOMS, we meet the criteria for expertise in dental implant reconstruction. Dr. Geisler is a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has over twenty-five years of surgical experience treatment planning and placing dental implants. She is known for her excellent technical skills and clinical judgement. Her complication rate for dental implant surgery is less than 1%.
Dr. Geisler is trained not only as a surgeon but also as a scientist. Using her scientific knowledge evaluating clinical evidence, she selected one implant system for use in her practice. This system has the best long-term outcomes for dental implants based on over fifty years of data and offers the most restorative options for dental implant crowns and dentures. This implant system serves as the model for all other dental implant systems.
Dr. Geisler has introduced new standards of care for the administration of antibiotics prior to dental implant placement based on her publication in the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2009. In addition, she reviews for the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the Dental Implant section and has authored reviews on risk of failure of dental implants with early loading.
An excellent listener and communicator, Dr. Geisler and her staff will treat you as family and will work well with your dentist to optimize your outcome. We want you to have a beautiful smile and will work hard to make that happen.
Compassion in surgical care is a slogan that is thrown around a lot these days on the internet. What makes compassion in surgical care so important? And what is compassion, exactly? Is it even important for a surgeon and her staff to have this quality?
Other words for compassion include love, concern, sensitivity, kindness and tolerance. A surgeon who demonstrates compassion in surgical care imagines herself as a patient, with the fears and concerns that go along with being ill. It is stepping alongside a patient, acknowledging their concerns, and guiding them into an area of health and wellness through the correction of the illness.
Surgeons do not work on their own and so at it’s best, compassionate care in surgery involves a loving, professional staff that support the vision of the surgeon. Compassionate care also involves a state of the art surgical facility where the highest standards of care, including safety for patients, can be administrated. And, it includes 100% transparency related to the financial aspects of care so that financial stress is minimized.
At Geisler Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we strive to exhibit kindness, love, sensitivity and tolerance to all of our patients while maintaining excellence in surgical outcomes. As a female surgeon, loving kindness is what I strive for as well as technical surgical excellence. I treat others as I would wish to be treated as a patient and view my patients as family.
Compassion is the foundation for everything that we do at Geisler Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.