Celebrating AGD’s 2022 Fellows and Masters

  • by AGD Staff
  • Jun 13, 2022
AGD’s Fellowship and Mastership awards offer general dentists pathways to mastering the art and science of dentistry while also distinguishing themselves among their colleagues as the best of the best. By dedicating themselves to continuing education (CE), Fellows and Masters ensure they are able to deliver the most current and cutting-edge care to their patients as they continuously develop their skills and knowledge. Rather than maintaining the minimum requirements for their state licenses, these members dedicate themselves to going above and beyond in their pursuit of knowledge. AGD Impact spoke with several of this year’s award recipients about their individual journeys and why they chose to pursue these achievements.

AGD Impact: What inspired you to pursue AGD Fellowship or Mastership?

Tracey S. Glinko, DDS, MAGD: It was important for me to ensure that I was offering the best care to my patients. It is easy to stick in the box of what you know and not push your boundaries, but dentistry is an ever-evolving field. If you don’t keep current, you are left offering outdated procedures and being influenced by old-school thoughts. Seeking Fellowship and Mastership happened for me quite organically. I always found comfort and familiarity in the classroom, and my pursuit of knowledge put me on the doorstep of these awards.

Gisella M. L. Angarita, DDS, MAGD: I’ve been an AGD member since dental school and had been trying to obtain the CE units for Fellowship on my own. Then I had kids, and, as a mom, life got really busy, and I kind of forgot about the FAGD. One day I received my AGD member card stamped “PREFELLOW,” and that encouraged me to continue the journey and take the exam. I studied as much as I could on my own and took the Fellowship Review Course. It was intense but well worth the time and effort. I stayed with my cousin, who works late hours, and he kept me company while I studied late into the night. All was well until the night before the exam. I was nervous and felt I wasn’t prepared enough and decided not to take it. When I told my cousin about my decision, he innocently asked, “Will you lose your license if you don’t pass?” “No,” I replied. He then proceeded to point out the obvious — why not take it and see how it goes? As I sat nervously before the exam, the instructor joked about how some of us may not have taken an exam in one or two decades since we took our boards. He was talking to me! All of a sudden, the anxiety diminished, and his joke brought a smile to my face. I was overjoyed when I received the letter notifying me that I had passed. To this day, my cousin likes to tease me about “the Test of June 2015.” Once I obtained my Fellowship and learned that the AGD MasterTrack program was being offered in southern California, I was excited to continue and obtain my MAGD. I am extremely proud to be part of a group of doctors who are dedicated to offering excellent care to their patients through their commitment to education beyond the minimum mandated requirements. 

Omid Khezri, DDS, FAGD: As a dentist, providing quality, predictable care to my patients has always been of paramount importance to me. After graduating in 2016, I knew my journey was just starting. The interesting fact is that, the more you learn, the more you realize how much you do not know. Looking at my journey, I see my whole progress as a puzzle. I started to find a location for certain pieces, yet some areas were missing. That is where AGD Fellowship became very helpful to me. It served as a guide and a pathway to focus my attention on different aspects of dentistry. Dentistry has many facets, and becoming a well-rounded dentist requires you to pay attention to every aspect of general dentistry and strive to become better than what you are today. Finding out I had achieved AGD Fellowship was an amazing moment for me, and I can tell you that I am already excited to walk the pathway toward my MAGD. 

Mohamed Aly Ibrahim Youssef, DMD, FAGD: My passion for dentistry and to become the best provider I can is what kept me motivated. I know graduating from dental school is just the start and that there are so many areas I want to explore and new technology to keep up with. My inspiration is my team and my patients. I want my team members to be happy when they come to work, so I learned about leadership, and I want my patients to get the best quality of care in the most efficient and predictable way. 

Joseph B. Silberman, DMD, MAGD: My children and my patients were my two prime motivators. I wanted to show my four boys that perseverance pays off and attaining goals is an accomplishment. For my patients, I knew that I wanted to be the best dentist I could be for them, and that meant continuing to learn and grow. 

Gregory A. Williams, DMD, MAGD: I received my Fellowship several years ago and always had in my mind that I would pursue Mastership. I think, as a general dentist, I have an obligation to become well versed in all aspects of dentistry — even those specialties I do not practice frequently — so that I can give patients appropriate referrals, provide excellent treatment, and be able to be a contributing party and active participant in order to function as the quarterback or director of my patients’ care. 

Caren Abraham, DDS, FAGD: I decided to pursue my AGD Fellowship mainly because I wanted to make sure that, even after I left dental school, I would continue to stay up to date on the ongoing developments in dentistry. But an additional reason was to ensure I had full competency in all things general dentistry before I left the United States. to start a dental clinic in rural Africa. I knew I would not have anyone to back me up or consult with in real time, so I wanted to make sure I had as much knowledge and as many skills as possible to offer the community. It has been a huge help.

In what way(s) did earning your AGD Fellowship or Mastership strengthen your dentistry skill sets, enhance your career and/or grow your practice? 

Glinko: Achieving Fellowship and now Mastership wasn’t my original intent, but it gave a goal — something I could be proud of. It said to those around me that I love what I do and that I take learning seriously. It instilled confidence in my recommendations to my patients. Exposure to CE is the greatest tool a dentist can have for critical thinking, and taking courses in such an abundance allows you to see the many contradictions of so-called experts. I always tell my staff to not “drink the Kool-Aid” when they attend a seminar or CE — unless it can be unequivocally proven, it is just anecdotal. 

Angarita: It’s so true that you don’t know what you don’t know! I completed my Mastership via participation in the AGD MasterTrack program. As part of the restorative hands-on portion, I was able to try out new products, instruments and techniques and find new favorites. I was also able to perform techniques I had not done in a while and reconsider them as ways to grow my practice without a huge investment. The course material was up to date and relevant, and the instructors were amazing at making it simple to understand. It was a perfect learning environment. I was happy to be around gifted yet humble clinicians who truly care about their patients and want to continue to enhance their clinical skills and dental knowledge. I learned from my colleagues as well as the course material. The doctors in the group were friendly and happily willing to share their pearls of wisdom. The program is designed to increase our clinical skills and encourage leadership and self-improvement. Presenting in front of my peers helped my personal growth and increased my confidence, which, as a consequence, improved our office’s case presentations and acceptance. I had to learn to take good chairside photographs and import them into presentations. My staff is now comfortable with the process, and we have used it to explain many extensive treatment plans to patients. It is extremely rewarding to see patients enjoy how something is presented and proceed to accept full treatment. 

Khezri: To me, dentistry is more than just clinical skills. There is a lot that goes into it, including interpersonal skills, leadership, team building and training on all fronts. Focusing on all these areas helped me to become a much better clinician. It also helped me be a better leader in my practice by creating an environment for my team where, at the end of the day, we all feel accomplished. 

Youssef: It solidified some of the concepts I learned in dental school and helped me expand on techniques that my fellow dentists and specialists use. 

Silberman: Learning new techniques is obviously important to growing as a professional, but something equally important is seeing that many of the things that I am doing in my office are being taught at these meetings. That’s a tremendous confidence builder. This translates to patient care, since I feel like a true expert in my field — patients can sense this, and it’s a great way to build a practice. 

Williams: Courses that require participation or case presentations force you to look more closely and analyze your work. Completing the MasterTrack participation series gave me the opportunity to learn and then present cases to my peers and listen to their presentations as well. Discussing actual cases and reviewing what went well along with ways to improve outcomes is a great way to see improvement and quantitatively increase your skill set. 

Abraham: The coursework and even the exam really helped me broaden my knowledge of treatment options in general dentistry. This was huge when it came to practicing dentistry in a low-resource setting because it helped me think back to the core issues and find creative ways of treating cases that we just don’t have the equipment for here.

Why are CE and obtaining awards like AGD Fellowship or Mastership crucial in dentistry? 

Glinko: Education prevents stagnancy in the profession. Dentistry is a difficult profession for a multitude of reasons, but engaging the profession through CE allows dentists to find reassurance in their beliefs and the guidance to grow. Nearly every course I take refreshes my desire to learn more and also provides justification for the paths I have taken. 

Angarita: Dentistry has changed so much since I graduated dental school! Taking the additional requirements needed to obtain Fellowship and Mastership has helped me evolve with our field and become a better clinician. Dental school was a great foundation, but Fellowship and Mastership helped me build on that. These awards help to identify clinicians who are responsible for improving the quality of dental care available in our communities. They are the ones who move on to educate other clinicians, represent us politically and help set us apart. 

Khezri: Awards like AGD Fellowship and Mastership establish a standard for the field. They can be considered a pathway for clinicians to follow and improve their quality of care and the dentistry they provide.

Youssef: They help you stay calibrated with other dentists so you don’t fall behind and to explore what is new in our field. There are constantly newer and better ways to do procedures, and I am determined to not miss any of those. 

Silberman: Without CE, we are no longer a profession. As professionals, we are obligated to continue learning and growing our skills. Designations like FAGD or MAGD are something to strive for because, by achieving them, you demonstrate a certain level of commitment to dentistry. As individual dentists continue to grow, the dental profession as a whole grows. 

Williams: CE is crucial to review, increase and then maintain the skills that are required to do excellent dentistry. As a general dentist who performs many different types of procedures, it is essential to frequently review new technologies, new techniques and best practices. Most states have very low CE requirements for licensing. Awards are one way that dentists can motivate themselves to go above and beyond the minimum and then become distinguished for their accomplishments. The AGD MasterTrack and Fellowship programs provide systematic approaches to measure and guide dentists who want to master the skills of a general dentist and pursue excellence in what they do. 

Abraham: There is so much being marketed, and you must be competent to know what is helpful and what is not. Awards like the FAGD or MAGD are great because they both keep you encouraged to pursue CE and distinguish you for your efforts to pursue quality CE. 

What’s your advice for AGD members who are pursuing or considering pursuing their AGD Fellowship or Mastership? 

Glinko: Do it the right way — avoid the fluff, and always remain critical in your pursuit of knowledge. Accolades for the sake of accolades are empty. Understand that achieving this award isn’t an end to a series, but the beginning of a season. The goal post should always be moving with your achievements. 

Angarita: Join a MasterTrack or Fellowship program. The comprehensive curriculum is time-saving compared with trying to take the courses on your own. The instructors are top-notch, and the curriculum is presented in an easy-to-understand format. It is designed to help you succeed. The camaraderie is a big plus, and being a part of a group made it easy to stay focused and motivated to complete the program. 

Khezri: My advice to my fellow AGD members is not to become complacent. Our patients trust us with their health; they deserve the best, most comprehensive and high-quality treatment they can get. I believe monitoring your progress and learning about areas of weakness are key. I believe anyone in pursuit of wisdom and knowledge will eventually find their path to excellence regardless of the obstacles. Put the time and dedication in, and we all get where we want to be. 

Youssef: Dedicate some time to prepare for the exam. I personally dedicated one week to prepare. Also, enjoy the review courses, as they are a wealth of valuable information. 

Silberman: Once you’re an AGD member, it’s a no-brainer to become a Fellow and ultimately a Master. As long as your focus is on the best interest of your patients, you’ll want to take lots of CE. Patients also like to know that their dentist is staying abreast of cutting-edge knowledge. Getting to be a Fellow or Master is a great way to gauge how you’re doing. Most dentists don’t have the designation. It shows a certain dedication to your field and gives you the ability to strive for something as well. It’s well worth the effort! 

Williams: Don’t be discouraged by the difficulty or duration of the path. During your career, pursue excellence. Finish Fellowship as soon as possible, and then develop a plan to systematically work through the CE required for Mastership. You will improve your diagnostic and treatment planning skills as you become more aware and proficient in each specialty. I have found that the better I can treat my patients, the greater satisfaction I find in my career. 

Abraham: Keep pursuing your goal. If it can be done from the middle-of-nowhere Africa, it can be done from wherever you are!

Get more information on achieving AGD Fellowship or Mastership.