Dr. Bob Shiflett (’92), who grew up on a farm in Cedartown, Georgia, was a teacher for 15 years before embarking on a dental career. He is still close with many DCG faculty, including Dr. Mike Pruett, in whose clinic he volunteers. “What makes the DCG special is its staff and students,” Shiflett says, noting he learns new things from them all the time. And at age 71, he has a few pearls of wisdom of his own to pass along:
» Reach out to others.
“I didn’t go to dental school until I was 41. I loved teaching, and I was looking for something that would keep me involved with people. Not only has dentistry enabled me to do that, but I’ve looked for other ways as well. Along the way, we’ve had opportunities to help numerous young people and local organizations. For example, a young musician for whom we purchased a violin recently sent us a photo of himself playing at the Grand Ole Opry. I also team-teach an adult Sunday school class and play cello with my wife in the church orchestra and the Northwest Georgia L’Abri Symphony Orchestra.”
» Take setbacks in stride.
“My wife and I started riding horses again later in life, which turned out to be a mistake. One day while riding my horse, a large dog decided to challenge us. My horse threw me and I landed on a tree stump, breaking 10 ribs and damaging my hip. I recently had a hip replacement but missed only three weeks of work. I don’t let things slow me down.”
» Don’t be afraid to hit the reset button.
“My original practice was in Chatsworth, Georgia. I sold the practice when I thought I wanted to retire. But after about six months, I knew I’d made a mistake. A friend starting a practice in Fort Oglethorpe invited me to join him. I didn’t realize how much I loved dentistry until I got out of it. Now, I plan to stay in it as long as I can.”
» Cultivate rich relationships.
“Former staff members honored me with a surprise 70th birthday party last year. I still receive texts from them, and some of them have joined the staff of my [current practice site]. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t live my life the very best I could. I’ve always tried to maintain my faith, stay humble and not forget those who helped me along the way.”