Dr. Melanie Fowler: On Board Certification and Motherhood
Disclosure :: A local mom and friend of LAFMB, Dr. Melanie Fowler, sponsored this post.
Early in my orthodontic career, one of my goals was to become Board-certified.
Board certification is not required to practice as an orthodontist, so most doctors don’t do it. They say it is time-consuming and expensive, and basically they don’t see the value in it, since most patients don’t even know the difference. I guess I am the ultimate teacher’s pet, because my program director and mentor, the late Dr. J.M. Chadha, not only encouraged me, but also expected it. He had already asked me to stay on as faculty at the LSU Dental School once I graduated, and he expected his faculty to become Board-certified. So you may be wondering, how in the world does this apply to being a MOM? Well, I will tell you…it has everything to do with being a mom, a woman, a professional, and the list goes on!
Board certification is one of the hardest self-assessments I have ever done.
You have to complete actual cases in your practice, and then write up case studies where you explain why you did what you did and what worked and what didn’t. To top it all off, you have to sit in front of world-renowned orthodontists and defend your work! That means you have to eat a big slice of humble pie and realize that you may not be perfect all of the time! And, of course, that’s exactly what I strive to be, perfect…and here’s where the mom part comes in: I do the same as a mom, and it’s not possible to be perfect every day, every time. As mothers, we have so much pressure in our culture to be everything to everyone, including at work, at home, and at our kids’ schools. Inevitably, we build up so much stress in our lives and we wonder how we got ourselves in this situation in the first place!
So, I would like to share some of the life lessons I learned from my Board certification journey and I hope they will give you some practical ideas to ponder in between diaper changes and carpool!
1. Take time to evaluate your current situation and see the big picture. In orthodontics, we simply can’t focus on one tooth or we might forget to look at the whole mouth, the bite, or even the actual face and smile. Sometimes, the saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees” really does apply. As moms, we get so caught up in toys all over the floor and cheerios in the car seats that we might forget to look at the big picture.
2. Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. I happen to be very strong in the organization and logic department, and sometimes having a change in schedule may create some anxiety for me. But I have to remember to focus on what I do best and make it work. Letting my weaknesses get my full attention does not allow my strengths to prevail.
3. Be a life-long learner. As an orthodontist, I am required to complete continuing education classes each year. As a mom, I think that should be a requirement too, since being a mom is a constantly evolving career! Read books, get advice from your grandmothers and mothers, and even view your weekly girls’ night as your Moms’ Study Club!
4. Compete with yourself, not your friends. Board certification is about evaluating yourself and being evaluated by other orthodontists, but it’s not a competition: no one wins a first place trophy. Don’t compare yourself to the mom next door… her situation is completely different, and you probably don’t know her whole story. The only trophy you need to compete for is the satisfaction of seeing your own kids being healthy and happy!
5. Celebrate achievements. Becoming Board-certified is hard and it certainly deserves celebration. Being a mom is harder and we should celebrate our successes! Even if it’s just the first piece of broccoli eaten by your 8-year-old that didn’t have to be “snaked” instead of chewed and swallowed.
Take it from me, a periodic self-examination/assessment/evaluation is healthy and can help you reset your priorities. My American Board of Orthodontics re-certification is coming up soon, and I am looking forward to it!
Learn more about Dr. Melanie Fowler and her practice using the links below.
Dr. Melanie Fowler is a board-certified orthodontist with offices in Lafayette and New Iberia. She is married to Dr. Shane Fowler and they have two very busy children, Georgia and Glen. When’s she’s not working or driving to ballet and soccer, Dr. Fowler spends time teaching at LSU School of Dentistry, volunteering with Junior League of Lafayette and traveling to Perdido Key, Florida, her happy place.