Female Boomer Dentist

Last week the New York Times Sunday Review featured an article called “Goodbye, Golden Years” at
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/retirement-goodbye-golden-years.html?_r=2&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y.  The article began with the following:

“Dr. B. BOOMER — an unfortunate, but fictional, dentist — worked and saved for years, only to see her portfolio shrivel after a series of investments in orthodontia-related dot-coms a decade ago. She then put her money into seemingly safe financial firms, like A.I.G., and was hammered during the subsequent downturn. Her plan to retire by selling her Scottsdale McMansion isn’t going well either. So the poor woman is spending her 65th year, not in glorious retirement, but fixing fillings for screaming children and generally annoyed adults.”

I found this paragraph very interesting on a number of points.  First, this poor woman made so many bad financial decisions – are my dental colleagues such financial risk-takers?  I tend to be very fiscally conservative.  Does this also reflect a difference in how we practice dentistry?  I tend to be dentally cautious too and don’t jump on every bandwagon (botox by dentists for example).  Secondly, the author shows a bias for retirement over practicing dentistry which he equates with screaming children and annoyed adults. But I certainly don’t look at my patients that way.  Kids today love coming to the dentist and adults are wonderful patients as well.

Thirdly, I am certainly not looking to retire – I love my work and find it so gratifying that I wouldn’t want to give it up, only to spend my days on the golf course (I don’t play golf, but you get the idea).  Fourthly, and most interesting about the article, is that it features a female dentist, age 65.  So she might have graduated from dental school at age 26 in 1972.  In 1972  fewer than 2% of dentists in the U.S. were female!  So our fictional dentist is a rarity and deserves much credit for entering a largely male enclave in the early years of the feminist movement.  I would like to hear more from her – too bad she is fictional!

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