The “Most Inspirational Dental Professional” Nifty Award recognizes individuals who have inspired others
through open & courageous communication, risk-taking, or an unwavering commitment to uplifting their peers.
Dr. Alan Stern’s journey— marked by both triumphs and setbacks—exemplifies the qualities that this award celebrates.
His dedication to sharing his experiences, offering guidance, and nurturing the human aspect of dentistry has earned
him this esteemed title.
For this article, I had the privilege of engaging in a one-onone conversation with Dr. Stern about his journey in dentistry—
and what drives him to inspire and mentor others.
No path is linear, and setbacks are inevitable—let them refine you instead of define you.
As a seasoned dentist with 42 years of experience in the field, Alan has experienced firsthand the rollercoaster track that
comes with our profession—one filled with highs and lows. “I’ve been knocked down pretty hard in dentistry and life,” he said. “But I’ve dusted myself off just with the intent of doing what I must do to fulfill my purpose in life and support my family.” We all know those despondent feelings that arise when you hit a significant setback in your life—it can feel like the world’s end. But then it passes. In Alan’s eyes, anyone looking back at their setbacks should realize that those times were
stepping stones on their path to growth—your low points have played an essential role in shaping the awesome person
you’ve blossomed into.
Something I admire about Alan is the openness and vulnerability he displays about his own experiences and struggles. What’s so profound to me with Alan’s candidness about the trials and tribulations he’s undergone (or is going through) is that it helps people feel less alone.
When he wears his heart on his sleeve, you know he’s someone you can confide in and reach out to. Even better, he helps
you realize there’s no shame in opening up. Qualities like those can be so powerful for anybody going through a dark period in their own life.
“Best if used by 2023.”
To Alan, dentists have a shelf life, much like a carton of milk stamped with a “best if used by” date. He saw 2023 as his “best by” date and, rather than succumbing to the idea of retirement, Dr. Stern embraced a new chapter with enthusiasm and purpose. For Alan, the “golden years” aren’t about spending your savings or idling away one’s days on a porch. Recognizing the need for a transition, he sold his practice to a mentee and shifted his focus towards mentoring, coaching,
and inspiring others.
Alan firmly believes that a purpose-driven life leads to a longer, more fulfilling, and happier existence: “When you have
a purpose,” he said to me, “you live better.” He also acknowledged the crucial role that family can play in maintaining
balance and happiness in one’s life—he sees his role as a father and husband as an integral part of his overall journey. He
proudly spoke of his 46-year marriage, considering his two children to be the joy of his life.
As 2023 draws to a close, Alan’s sights are set on the future. He aspires to continue speaking to dental groups, expanding
his coaching initiatives, and publishing more books. Beyond 2024, he envisions becoming a keynote speaker at dental
conferences and sharing his wisdom and experiences with a broader audience. This Nifty Award holds deep significance
for Alan, serving as a wellspring of motivation to continue his inspiring work.
Alan’s heartfelt message for his fellow dental professionals.
Every action in dentistry—no matter how routine or mundane it feels—matters. Whether you’re an owner dentist, an associate dentist, an administrator, a hygienist, or a dental assistant, remember that you make a difference—and never lose sight of your work’s humanity. Remain connected to the people you serve, and never lose your passion and sense of purpose in the face of challenges and changes in the profession. “Don’t ever lose your heart, he told me. “Don’t ever lose your why.”
Dr. Alan Stern’s mission is to help dentists keep the passion that drove them to pursue a career in this great and important profession alive. “Enjoy The Ride” is full of stories and practical advice for creating a successful practice and happy personal life based on Dr. Stern’s life and four-decade long career. Find your why again and let dentistry help you express your special gifts to the world.