DR. SELIM PAMUK, ESCD COUNTRY CHAIRPERSON TURKEY
My name is Selim Pamuk. I’m from Istanbul, Turkey. I graduated from Istanbul University, from the faculty of Dental Medicine in 1982. Right after I started my PhD studies at the same university, I got my PhD Degree in prosthodontics in 1987. After my PhD, I served my country and did my military service in the army hospital. In 1991, I got the degree of associate professor and in 1999, the full professorship from the same department and university. Until 2008, I worked in the fixed prosthodontics department and in 2008 when I finished my 25thyear at the university, I decided to retire. I started a private practice in Istanbul, together with two other dentists. One of them is a periodontist and the other is an orthodontist. Thus, it’s a very nice practice covering every single aspect of dentistry. Now we are focusing mostly on implant and aesthetic dentistry. I do all the restorative parts while my partner does all the surgical interventions. We specialize in immediate loading and we do a lot of cases of full arch implant immediate loading or single implants loaded immediately in the aesthetic zone. Our clinic is technologically oriented. We like to use digital tools like Chairside CAD/CAM. I also give CEREC courses.
Describe yourself in three words.
The first one would be ‘hard worker’. Whenever I want something, there is no backing down for me. I’ll achieve it no matter what.. I never give up.. It’s one of my characteristics.
The second one is ‘friendly’. I can be friends with anybody. I believe that I am a humble and loyal person which probably makes me a good friend. I like my friends and try not to disappoint them. They all know that they can count on me. To be more specific, once an important producer, a friend of mine, told me “You know Selim, you are the only person that I can count on.”
The third one is ‘music lover’. I cannot go without music but I don’t play any instruments. I only use my iPod or digital players. I am a big fan of jazz and I have a huge collection. As soon as I get home I turn on the music system. 99% of the time I listen to jazz and rarely classical music. In the office or at home, it doesn’t matter. From the moment I enter, the music is turned on. Even my patients are used to this. If the music is not on, they get curious and ask why.
Why did you become a dentist?
Most of the dentists first want to become doctors and I’m no exception. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor because my uncle was a doctor in the US, so he was my idol. At that time in Turkey, after you had finished high school, you would have to pass a state exam to enrol a university. But before the exam you had to make a list of the universities and faculties that you wanted to join. According to the points that you would get from the exam, they’d assign you to one of these universities. Obviously my first four choices were focused on medical schools and my fifth was dentistry and the sixth again was a medical school. I obtained enough points for my fifth choice. I also applied to some French universities since I was a French high school graduate. I got accepted to Aix-Marseilles University Medical School and also in a medical school in Brussels. I even sent all the necessary documents to Aix-Marseilles and was waiting for the results of the state exam so I could get a student passport. The moment they released the results I received a letter from the board saying that I was admitted to the dental school in Istanbul. Thus, I had to decide; going to Aix-Marseilles or staying here.. I made my decision to continue my studies in Istanbul. I never regretted my decision in becoming a dentist. At that time medical school graduates had to serve for their country for at least two years to get their diploma. After they specialized, another two years in public service. However, for dentistry there was never such a thing, which is part of why I do not regret my decision. I love my profession so much that my job became my hobby. And you know what they say; If your job is your hobby you will never have to work a day in your life. That is true for me.
You talked about your uncle who is a doctor in the US, how did he influence you?
He left Turkey in 1946 after he graduated from medical school and he went to the United States to specialize on anesthesia and surgery. He never came back until 1987. I first met him in 1981, in Chicago. He was always a hardworking person who achieved a lot of things in his field and I always wanted to follow his path. In my family there are a lot of academic people. For instance, the husband of my aunt is a law professor and was the Dean of Law School for 16 years. This is the longest period of time that a person held the title in the history of law school. Also, one of my cousins is a professor at Bosphorus University and did a double major in Yale on Economics and Chemical Engineering. He also got his PhD degree on Economics in Berkeley. He was a professor for a long time in the United States and the London School of Economics and now he is in Turkey. So my family has a lot of academic people. Thus, one might say that there is a bit of pressure to continue on this field.
Do you have kids?
I have a daughter and she is 16. I want her to be whatever she wants to be. But you know kids, they change their minds a lot. Until two weeks ago she wanted to become a graphic designer and wanted to go to Netherlands for her education. She is a very good horseback rider. She does dressage and competes in the national team and also in Europe. Two weeks ago she became first in a competition in Turkey. After the competition she said she might want to become a specialized veterinarian for the horses after seeing the veterinarian checking the horses. So I don’t know what the future will show, but I’ll let her decide. My parents also let me decide. They never pushed me into anything I did not want. However, my father was a civil engineer and he didn’t want me and my brother to become one actually.
What would you do if you were not a dentist?
I would be a photographer. I do dental photography now but at the very beginning of my career in dentistry, my friends used to call me a professional photographer and an amateur dentist.
What is the biggest challenge in your work and in your life?
I believe that my answer will cover both for my life and work. I don’t know if you would call it a challenge but the things I like or that I keep doing every single day: learning, learning learning. This is a challenge, to learn new things. I never stop learning. I never stop reading at the age of 60. I still want to learn new technologies, work related or just for personal fun. I never say; ok I’m 60, it is enough.
How did ESCD influence you?
For me ESCD is friendship, collaboration, helping each other, down to earth people and no big egos. This is why I am with these people. The friendship is just something I appreciate. We share a lot of things together. I feel like at home and comfortable with ESCD. In Krakow, I was at the country chairman meeting and everybody sincerely welcomed me. It was my first meeting and it meant a lot. They did not know me but every single one of them hugged me and congratulated me which made me feel like I was at home.
What do you like to do when it’s raining outside?
I like to stay at home and listen to good music very loudly. Of course, this is until my neighbours come and tell me to keep it down. One day, I did not realize that it was 4 o’clock in the morning and I was listening to music very loudly. And the doorbell rang.. Yes, as you can guess, it was my upstairs neighbour.
Are you afraid of challenges?
How do you approach a challenge?
First of all, I’m not afraid of challenges because, in the end, I believe I can either achieve something or not. To be a part of this challenge however, is the important part. I may not be the winner, but knowing that I at least participated is enough for me. You cannot expect to win all the time. However, you must at least give it a try. That counts. I believe that everyday people are faced with different challenges even if they do not recognize them. The important thing is to take something positive out of it and learn from them for the future.
Advice for students?
My first and most important advice would be; ‘Look at the big picture!’. Don’t only concentrate on a single thing. Never be the loser. I believe that losers are the ones who do not learn from experience. Even if you’re not the winner you still get to learn something. Next time you are more experienced and know how to act. This is not only for your studies but it is an advice for life. Become the better person that you are by looking at the bigger picture.