Ronald Wolk, PCSO President 2007-2008

April 1, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: N/A
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Portrait of a Professional PCSO President 2007-08

Ronald Wolk, DDS Calgary, Alberta, Canada


GN: Ron, tell us a bit about your early life. RW: I was born in 1951 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the youngest of three children. My father, David, and mother, Clara, were themselves first-generation Canadians children of European immigrant parents from the late 1800s. My father was a bookkeeper for a local group of movie theatres that eventually became aligned with the Famous Players chain. My mother, along with supporting my father’s private home business, always entrenched herself within charitable and service organizations. My school-year haunt was the North End of Winnipeg. We spent the summer at our cottage home on Lake Winnipeg. Getting to grade school and high school meant long, cold walks in deep snow. As kids, playing on the street was our full-time job. I worked hard to keep up good grades in school, and I was involved in sports when I could, including track and field, volleyball, and basketball. One winter sport in Canada I got involved in at a young age was curling. Through high school I spent many evenings and weekends in various curling rinks in leagues and competitive play. GN: Curling? RW: Curling is a Canadian pastime played in the winter months with brooms and polished granite stones. It is like shuffleboard on ice. GN: How did you get interested in dentistry? RW: I had a close family friend in the dental supply business who encouraged me. Then my own orthodontist, Dr. Morley Bernstein, became a mentor for me. He is a past President of the Canadian Association of Orthodontists. I attended the University of Manitoba for undergrad and was accepted into the Faculty of Dentistry to graduate in the Class of 1974 at the young age of 23.

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Dr. Ronald Wolk

Those years in dental school are most memorable for the intense work and wonderful friendships. Upon graduation, I associated with a high-profile general practice in North End Winnipeg and started my own satellite practice in a rural Manitoba community one to two days a week. My work consisted of mainly restorative and endodontics within the scope of general practice. I woke up every day realizing that I was not comfortable doing general dentistry and my motivation to seek graduate studies shifted into high gear. Knowing Dr. Bernstein was enough to want to pursue the specialty of orthodontics. After only four months of practice, I began the intense application process. One interview took me to the Graduate Orthodontic Program at the University of Minnesota. I remember walking into the orthodontic clinic and “it was love at first sight.” The chairman, Dr. Robert Isaacson, interviewed me, and I spent two days with the residents at the time. I began my orthodontic career in 1975 and graduated with a Diploma in Orthodontics in 1977 and a Masters of Science in Anatomy in 1978. GN: What was the program at Minnesota like? RW: The faculty, led by Dr. Isaacson, included the full-time staff of Drs. Michael Spiedel, Frank Worms, Richard Bevis, Gerry Cavanaugh and Robert Nemeth. They were all like family in every way. We were encouraged and mentored as residents and treated as colleagues from the first day.


Portrait of a Professional

Ron, all ready for Alberta’s famous Calgary Stampede

Good times during dental school in the 1970s.

The clinical program was very practice oriented. A senior and junior resident and dental assistant shared three operatories. The patient load for this team was 150-plus. The didactic program was intense. My classmate and now long-time partner, Dr. Barry Hoffman, and I often recount the nine-hour intense seminars behind closed doors for the first three weeks of our program. Dr. Isaacson, the consummate educator, laid the foundations of our orthodontic knowledge.

long-term partnership we have to this day — 30 years! At the time, nearing graduation the reality of choosing a practice location was upon us. Barry was an American citizen and I was from Canada. The political situation in the USA was volatile and the VietNam situation was all too fresh in the mid-’70s. The booming oil and gas economy of those times was influencing the Canadian west. Calgary was a young city − just over 450,000 people − with fewer than

The technique taught at the University of Minnesota was the self-designed “Minnesota Integrated Technique.” It was essentially an over-engineered bracket system with the early versions of pretorqued preangulated bands and 0.018 slot brackets and vertical auxiliary capabilities. During the years of my training, Dr. Bruce Epker and Dr. Larry Wolford were pioneering surgical procedures in Orthognathic patient management. Our heavy patient load included many surgery patients. As practitioners we were quickly comfortable with treating skeletal disharmonies. GN: Both you and I have long-term practice partners. How did that develop? RW: By coincidence, or fate, upon landing in Minneapolis, I met another new resident coming from Detroit. We became close friends during the residency, and that friendship developed and led to the Partners for 30-plus years, Ron Wolk and Barry Hoffman


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Portrait of a Professional

Michael and Carly Wolk

Ron’s sons, Jared and Michael

seven orthodontists. Barry and his wife Linda listened to us laud the virtues of Canada and the wild western city of Calgary, Alberta. Barry and Linda made the bold move and set up practice in Calgary while I and my wife at the time, Adele, were pulled back to our roots in Winnipeg. I set up a small practice with my mentor, Dr. Morley Bernstein. After only six months, our family situation allowed us to revisit my decision. One phone call to Barry in Calgary led to history and our 30 years of partnership. GN: Who have been your mentors? RW: Dr. Robert Isaacson has been a very important mentor for me. I am certain that he is responsible for instilling into me a strong sense of professionalism and a skill set of how to apply a thought process to approach many orthodontic decisions as well as life decisions. His guidance remains with me throughout all these years. I must also acknowledge my own

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orthodontist, Dr. Morley Bernstein of Winnipeg, who was among the first of modern day orthodontists in my home city and his success and practice manner gave me the goals to look up to. My very own partner, Dr. Barry Hoffman, and I exist in what I feel is a very symbiotic relationship. I’d say we tend to mentor each other. Our partnership is built upon mutual respect and a wonderful friendship. GN: Are your kids grown now? RW: In Calgary, Adele and I raised three lovely children: Jared, 27; Carly, 24; and Michael, 18. Jared lives and works in Victoria, BC as a mortgage broker in a growing business. Carly is a professional make-up artist currently living and working in Vancouver, BC. Michael is a senior in high school, with aspirations of entering the hotel management industry. Calgary, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, is a playground for skiing and hiking. It has over a


Portrait of a Professional

Ron and his partner, Barry Hoffman, and some of their staff

million people now and has many opportunities available for both cultural activities and active sport. GN: Tell me about your work with orthodontic associations. RW: I have been an active AAO, PCSO and CAO (Canadian Association of Orthodontists) member for my entire career. It was in 1991, while co-chairing our CAO Annual Session in Calgary, that my involvement with organized orthodontics began. Initially, during those early years I served as Alberta’s Provin-

cial Representative, and later became editor of our CAO Membership Directory, which resulted in board positions. I have to give credit to the then-President of the CAO, Dr. Terry Carlyle, for believing in me and encouraging me to serve the organization. This eventually resulted in an executive line position with the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, culminating in serving as the President of the CAO from 1999-2000. It was during the years leading up to that position I served also as the provincial representative of Alberta to the PCSO. Following my term as Presi-

Ron and his daughter, Carly


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Portrait of a Professional

dent of the CAO, I was appointed as President of the CFAO (Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Orthodontics) and served there for three years. In 2004 I was called upon to join on the executive line of the PCSO, leading up to my current position. GN: As a Canadian, did you become certified by the American Board of Orthodontics? RW: I became certified by the American Board in 1990 (recertified in 2006). Achieving my ABO certificate is a bit of a story. I had committed to the process of case selection and registration with the ABO to present my cases and do the oral exam for the spring of 1990. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 1989, two weeks after we had our third child. I underwent surgery and follow up radiation treatment through that early winter. The last day of radiation treatment was Christmas Eve, 1989. That very same evening I was called to my father’s bedside. He passed on that night. Throughout all those intense events, I forged ahead and successfully completed my Board Certification. My advice for a new PCSO member would be to enjoy the specialty of orthodontics. The membership organizations of orthodontics are here to help support your chosen career. The services offered and the interlinking of others in your profession create a home base from which you can deliver the best orthodontics to your patients. In order to keep your specialty current it’s important for you to be part of its vision by being an active member. My final words would be, “It’s a wonderful life.”


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Ron relaxes with his friend, “Max” (short for Maxilla).


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