This interview with Dr. Chad Gehani by Danielle Zimbardi, vice president of dental underwriting for MLMIC Insurance Company, was originally printed in our Second Quarter 2021 issue of The Scope: Dental Edition. Read more articles from the publication here.
From humble beginnings in Mumbai, India, to leadership roles at every level of organized dentistry, Dr. Chad Gehani is the epitome of a heartwarming success story and a man with a full personal and professional life.
Serving as president of the ADA through October 2020, Dr. Gehani led the charge to keep dentists apprised of ever-changing information as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and provided guidelines and strategies as dental practices began to reopen.
Prior to his tenure at the ADA, Dr. Gehani served as president of the Queens County Dental Society, trustee to the ADA Board of Trustees, delegate to the House of Delegates and president of the New York State Dental Association. He is the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of service to his profession.
When his tenure as president of the ADA concluded, Dr. Gehani returned to his home base in Queens and to his next role in service of his profession and organized dentistry as the executive director of the Queens County Dental Society. With such a distinguished career in organized dentistry, we could not help but ask Dr. Gehani to share some of his experiences, as well as his thoughts on why membership is important to both the individual dentist and the profession. MLMIC is pleased to share these with you.
Q: How does it feel to be back in your local society as its executive director?
Dr. Gehani: Home sweet home! I feel great coming back home. I worship work! I know I can make a difference in organizing, developing leadership and creating and building new relationships for the Queens County Dental Society. Being executive director gives me an opportunity to remodel, reenergize and revitalize the society – and help our dentist friends and welcome new members.
Q: What would you say to a dentist thinking about membership in organized dentistry?
Dr. Gehani: I am a member because we must have unity of our profession. United, we can conquer the world. There are many decisions being made by lawmakers every day that affect our profession, so that strength in numbers becomes critical in having our voices heard. I tell nonmembers that, while all dentists benefit from the actions of the ADA, as members they can also be part of policymaking and have a voice. The benefits of membership are numerous; however, advocacy on behalf of our patients and our profession is of utmost importance. Dentists must speak with a united voice if we want to secure our future – not only for us but for the generations to come!
Q: What are some of the challenges facing the profession and organized dentistry today?
Dr. Gehani: One aspect is consumerism. Our patients look upon us as the providers of a service. They look for convenience and cost-effectiveness. The days of hanging out your dentist shingle and patients coming to you by word of mouth are long gone. Web presence, longer hours for patient convenience and cost-saving services are here to stay. Organized dentistry must work tirelessly to remain relevant to dentists. We must make certain members and potential members see organized dentistry as the leader for resources, guidance and support. We must provide members with easily accessible first-rate service utilizing the most up-to-date technology. We must work consistently to anticipate our members’ needs. This is what I strive for.
Q: What are some tips for new dentists?
Dr. Gehani: New dentists should not only become members of organized dentistry, they MUST also get involved. Our future depends on it, and so does theirs. They must have a place at the table to have a voice in the future of their profession. New dentists should consider working with good mentors who can guide them, much as I was guided by my mentor, Dr. Richard Mascola, in the early ’80s. Dentistry is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best career choices. I am proud to call myself a dentist and a member of the American Dental Association. Dentistry is a trusted profession whose services contribute greatly to our patients’ general health and well-being. Above all, we can change a person’s life forever by removing pain and giving them a beautiful smile! Many dentists are also small-business owners. We take pride in serving our communities. And we are often our own boss. In short, dentistry provides many opportunities for professional satisfaction.
Q: What has been one of the greatest accomplishments in your career?
Dr. Gehani: My career has been full of successes. Every day is a blessed day for me. Never a bad day. As president of the ADA, I was proud to bring my “servant leader” qualities to the role. I certainly did not anticipate becoming known as the pandemic president but was honored to serve the dental community – not only nationally but globally – during this unprecedented crisis. Our doors were open to guide dentists anywhere help was needed. I was completely consumed with the challenge of managing an extraordinary situation that demanded answers and guidance in virtually unknown terrain. In addition to our 163,000 members, as well as nonmembers, here in the USA, dentists all over the world were looking to the ADA and its leadership to provide science-based facts about COVID-19 in real time under constantly changing circumstances. So, I am proud of what we were able to accomplish during this crisis in bringing necessary information and guidance to dentists and the public, while advocating for dentists as the essential workers we are!
Q: How do you spend your spare time when you are not practicing?
Dr. Gehani: I love my family and love spending time with them. My wife, Rekha, is an orthodontist and the real force of the Gehani family. I have three children – two orthodontists and one ENT surgeon – and six grandchildren. They are the world to me. Reading religious books and reading about Mahatma Gandhi are great. Bicycling at home keeps me relaxed.
Thank you, Dr. Gehani, for sharing your time and insights with us!