Dr. Kevin DeGroot, Madison No Fear Dentistry
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dr. Kevin DeGroot, dentist, Madison No Fear Dentistry.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Honestly, the most challenging and yet rewarding aspect of my job is the diversity of procedures I perform. As a general dentist you are asked to not only diagnose, but also provide treatment for a broad spectrum of conditions. The procedures I provide include fillings, crowns, cosmetic veneers, root canals, and implants. To be able to perform these procedures at a high level of quality requires countless hours of continuing education and research. I do believe, however, that this diversity provides me the most satisfaction at work because each day is diverse, challenging, and mentally stimulating.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I read a book recently by the name of Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. In his book, the author identifies a handful of unique businesses that stand out in quality and he tries to outline why these businesses are so successful and beloved by their employees. There were a few standouts in the book including Danny Melker from the Union Square Hospitality group in New York City and Fred Maytag of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. The characteristic I admired most about both of these business leaders was their personal commitment to quality and a commitment to stay connected locally. The driving force behind the work that I do everyday is quality. I am not always the fastest dentist, but I can live with that as long as I know that what I am doing for my patients is of the highest possible quality every time. I admire these people because, by the author’s description, they have become successful largely because of their personal commitment to quality without exception. The other aspect that I admire is their commitment to the community around them. Each of them went out of their way to stay local rather than become corporate or chase more money. I think this is an admirable trait.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Thus far in my career, the high point has not been a single moment in time. Rather, it has been the summation of many moments over the past couple of years when I have come to the end of both long and short treatment plans for my long-time patients. There is nothing quite like the feeling when you have someone finish their treatment and break down in tears over their new smile or tell you that you have changed their view of dentists due to their great experiences while working with you. These are the moments when I know that my hard work has been worthwhile. This is why I choose to be a dentist and continue to do what I do.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
If I am being honest, I would have asked the 21-year-old me what the hell I was doing! When I was 21 I was caught up with Marquette University basketball, going to parties with friends, and pulling all-nighters to cram for organic chemistry. What I was lacking was perspective and humility. I would have urged the young me to travel abroad or do a study-abroad program to gain some worldly perspective. I would have told the young me to study before the night before the big exam and focus more on the practical knowledge. Don’t worry if you did not set the curve on the exam or got a question wrong. I would have told myself to get up earlier to enjoy the sunrise and go to bed earlier because nothing good happens after 11 p.m. Sadly, we cannot go back in time and gift ourselves the lessons that only time and life impart on us. What this question is really asking is what I have learned over the past decade. The answer would be perspective, but there is still more learning to do.