It has been many years since Hippias of Helis, a contemporary Greek sophist of Socrates, defended that the goal of teaching was to achieve excellence. Our universities, all in general, carry, in one way or another in their ideas and objectives, the achievement of excellence or excellent professionals. The truth is that this multifaceted word that used to define an exemplary, relevant and perfect citizen has been acquiring connotations linked to success in its most prosaic meaning. Originally, it served to indicate courage, moderation or balance, justice and, of course, prudence.
Nothing would make us happier than having the conviction that our dentists really go out into the world of work wrapped in that patina of excellence that we intend to give them. If we also provide them with outstanding technical skills and knowledge, one would understand that, to varying degrees, the professionals who fill the queries on the streets and towns of Spain should be in possession of of what the classics called “areté”, the virtue that characterized the best men.
It is no less true that the harsh reality of dentistry makes us aware of the existence of scams, lies, half-truths and deceptions, related to money but also to vanity and the unhealthy need to protagonism or success, all shown bare-chested or wrapped in sweetened models and social behaviors that hide shameful interests and linked, in many cases, to characters who, without so many philosophical concepts – Ethical, they want to make our profession their source of income at all costs.
But friends, on the other hand we cannot deny the reality that these characters have professional dentists at their service. They themselves are in some cases. Many in their day went out into the world with the idea that they were “aristoi”, the best. Maybe inexperienced but with excellent training, incomparably better than previous generations and not only technically but also because of values ??that they were repeatedly told about during their careers.
We must reflect. what? It has happened so that many of our colleagues have given in to the siren songs that speak to them about money, social recognition, etc. and have been identified with other guidelines? what? What has happened so that, in addition, they have done it many times without a clear assessment of what they were doing and without a bad conscience for doing it?
In an increasingly globalized world, Plato's Academy is out of date The current university cannot capitalize on the global training of people or dentists. The teaching profession and with it the excellence that we seek is a continuum that must be understood as a network, interacting in society, in politics, in life, with friends. Acting in the decision centers, participating. Professionals have come to a profession that is no longer theirs alone, which belongs to many people, to a world that is not governed by the same concept of excellence. And arrived here not only do they need to eat every day, but also the standard of "what is necessary" is much higher.
At this point, dentists cannot limit themselves to technical perfection, they must be involved in influencing society. Our educational and professional leaders cannot limit themselves to clinical excellence, they must also be involved and influence society and politics. We cannot train “aristoi”, we cannot train the best and abandon them in a world with professional plethora.
“Honesty cannot be a heroic act but an everyday attitude”
We cannot leave a profession with salaries that prioritize productivity in the hands of employers without moral responsibility. Honesty cannot be a heroic act but a daily attitude. Nor can we allow dentists to be forced to become more or less active accomplices in such a way that they care more about "what is necessary to live" than the excellence and principles they received in their training. . The shocking echo that the proliferation of cases similar to Idental has had in the media cannot make us forget that in these organizations there was also a large number of dentists who, looking the other way, they became necessary accomplices, even if eventually they also ended up being victims. By now, no matter how well they applied the technique, they were no longer the best. They were certainly not what neither society nor the profession needed. Looking for the experience they didn't have, they lost the excellence with which they started.
Dr. Manuel Ribera Uribe
Professor of Gerodontology and special patients.
International University of Catalonia