Resident Spotlight - Dr. Tehila Cohen
Dr. Cohen, of Israel, will graduate from the two-year AEGD program this year, after completing a one-year Fellowship in Urgent Care. After her military service, she studied dental medicine, including in depth research involving cancer patients. She seeks out challenging situations and gained several years of valuable experience in patients with dental phobias, older adults and those with special needs. Her experience at Eastman provided expanded experience in these areas.
What do you enjoy about treating this population?
Working with this patient population taught me a lot about compassion, patience, empathy and team work. Most of all, I learned that people can thank me in so many ways and this is priceless. My days at the nursing home and at the Complex Care Center are full of happiness and laughter, gratitude and challenges. I couldn't have asked for anything else to gain from my residency. I have to admit I got hooked!
I do enjoy it a lot and feel very fortunate to have that kind of experience during my residency. I feel that geriatric patients as well as patients with special needs are naturally honest. Though it can look challenging sometimes, I find it satisfying to be able to reach out to people and deliver the best dentistry I can provide.
Do you have a more focused interest now?
I admit I always believed that the key to understanding every patient is to be very knowledgeable about dentistry, oral medicine and psychology. I try to be as professional as I can be so that my patients and the dental staff that supports me will feel they have someone to count on. I feel that patients with special needs such as medically complicated, dental phobias, geriatric-related concerns and developmentally disabled need to have more focus and time from us and have their needs met more than the average patient.
Naturally these patients get less access to a sufficient-comprehensive dental treatments due to other concerns in their life. There is no doubt that working with them made me more eager to expand my knowledge so that I can be better for them. It became a real passion. I’m very happy I had to opportunity to help a bit during my residency, but I’m sure it’s not the end.
Why did you choose Eastman for your residency?,
I chose Eastman since I only heard good things about the residency. Leaving my country and my already established career wasn't easy, but knowing that I will be a resident in Eastman and I will get the right tools there in order for me to be a better dentist made the decision very obvious.
Did the Eastman experience make you a better dentist? If so, why?
My Eastman experience definitely made me a better person. I have more patience. That is something that I only learned here and it was great! Thanks to the Eastman experience I can deliver dentistry in English, and I can even make jokes in English. I am confident and very happy I chose to be a dentist 14 years ago. In Eastman I was able to meet so many new people and make them my family-away-from-home.
I feel I'm growing and I have the right tools to succeed in life, thanks to that experience.
We have an old saying in Hebrew - 'The baker shouldn't comment on his dough'. I think my faculty members can answer the question if I’m a better dentist now. (see below for faculty's comments)
What advice do you have for future Eastman residents?
I think that when you are not in your comfort zone, you can do things you never thought you could.
The AEGD residency is everything but your comfort zone. It’s very busy. You are away from home and what you are used to. You have to adjust yourself. You have to make good friends and trust your basic instincts. You have to be a great professional dentist and you need to be approachable. You constantly miss home, food and music. It isn't an easy residency but once you get past those obstacles you can gain all the benefits the residency can give you: endless knowledge, exposure to whatever you can dream of, working alongside specialists. Focus on what you like and feel like you are just starting your journey. It makes you feel excited about your future.
What’s the one thing about Rochester you love and dislike?
I think Rochester is beautiful. Letchworth State Park is one of my favorite places to go. Summer is my favorite time. I think winter can be way shorter. I dislike snow in April.
Anything else you want to add?
I want to say that aside from the faculty members, the dental assistants are just awesome and I am very grateful to have worked with them.
What are your next steps after you graduate?
I will be a GPR resident St. Peters Hospital in Albany. I will be able to focus on patients with special needs during this residency and am very excited to start.
What Faculty Have to Say about Dr. Cohen:
“She is a humble individual who was able to complete the program in spite of some difficult circumstances,” said Dr. Michael Yunker, AEGD assistant program director. “She always gave her best effort, was an eager volunteer, and never refused a request to help out others. Tehila is a good communicator, is calm under stress, and is extremely conscientious. I was impressed with her clinical and patient management skills, her maturity, her strong ethical foundation, and her sense of humor. Tehila treated many geriatric patients and patients at the Complex Care Center, and was kind, skilled and competent in all situations.”
“Over the past three years I certainly have seen a tremendous growth in Dr. Cohen’s clinical skills, patient management and academic knowledge,” added Dr. Hans Malmstrom, chair and program director for the AEGD Program. “She has volunteered weekly for the past two years at the Jewish Home, which is a skilled nursing facility for geriatric patients in all stages of support needs. She has discussed with me how rewarding and meaningful the interaction with these patients has been, in addition to her time treating patients with medically complex conditions and intellectual disabilities.
She now sees caring for this patient population to be main aspects of her practice. She has gained a broad skill set to manage these patients very well and has also demonstrated a great level of compassion. I have no doubt that she will continue to grow and be a great example of what you can do and learn in the AEGD program if you apply yourself.”
Karen Black |