My AGD Fellowship Track

  • by Michael A. Thomas Jr., DMD, FAGD,
  • Aug 30, 2019, 11:47 AM
My AGD Fellowship track began in 2013 while I was a resident at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital (now known as Bronx Care Hospital Center). Darwin K. Hayes, DDS, FAGD, was my attending, and we would talk about a multitude of things, whether it was life, dentistry or family. One topic that came up often was the “FAGD” at the end of his name. He told me how AGD had always provided support for his career and offered great continuing education (CE) opportunities. Moreover, he told me how receiving the AGD Fellowship differentiates you from thousands of other dentists.

Fast forward to November 2017: My wife and I found out we were expecting a child. I thought to myself, “I better look into obtaining my fellowship now, before we get overwhelmed with the baby.”I researched everything. I even read past posts on The Daily Grind by other dentists who had obtained their Fellowship and wrote about their experiences. After doing my research, I submitted my information to AGD and registered for the exam and the review course at the2018 scientific session in New Orleans.

After committing myself financially to the exam and the scientific session, I also purchased multiple study materials — Dental Decks, Mosby's Review for the NBDE Part Two, Second Edition and several old exams from the AGD website. I went all in! I wanted to pass the exam the first time, so I wanted to leave no doubt in my mind that I had prepared myself .I began studying in March, and the exam was in June. I studied one hour per day, three to four times a week. Man, was that challenging! Finding the time to study and going through all of the information that I had learned five years ago felt like being in dental school again; however, it reinforced some concepts that I had not thought about in a while.

One day in April, I found myself home alone, so I decided to try one of the review exams and see how well I was doing. I did absolutely horrible! I almost ran out of time, I missed every question in the pathology section, and I could barely sit through the exam — and this was just a practice! I felt so hopeless that I started thinking, “Why am I doing this?”And I really thought about why — to better serve my patients and to distinguish myself from my colleagues. So I renewed my commitment to the process, and, as I began to spend more days studying, I felt more and more confident. 

June eventually came around, and I flew to New Orleans for the scientific session. I took the review course that Thursday and Friday, which was awesome. The instructors did an excellent job navigating through a multitude of subjects in a short amount of time. With that said, I still felt overwhelmed. I went back to my hotel room Friday night and told my wife, “This will be one of the toughest exams that I will ever take, but I’m going to give it my best shot.”

Saturday morning, I went to the exhibit hall and found a seat for the exam. I vividly remember getting nervous, even after all of that preparation — I was anxious and excited, all at the same time. I got the exam, went through the first 20 questions and thought, “I don't know any of this stuff! Was this on the review? What the heck kind of question is this?” Then, I closed my eyes for a moment, took a deep breath and went through the exam one question at a time. After turning it in, I walked out thinking, “I was pretty confident before I got here — now, I am not.”I left the hotel and went to Drago’s for some charbroiled oysters to relax now that it was over. Then, I flew home to Atlanta. My son was born a month later, and, after that, I barely had time to think about the exam.

On Aug. 12,a letter from AGD arrived in my mailbox. I thought it would be about membership specials or something else like that —wrong! It was a letter stating that I had passed the exam! I was thrilled. I already had the required 500 CE hours, and now I could apply for Fellowship.

On July 20, 2019, I attended the Convocation Ceremony at AGD2019 and became an AGD Fellow. It is one of my proudest moments. I am appreciative of my wife for the encouragement and confidence she gave me to pursue this as well as her unselfishness while I am constantly leaving to take CE courses all over the country. Thank you to AGD for helping dentists like me further our commitment to providing excellent dentistry for our patients.
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