Dr. Shivesh Kumar is a Family Medicine Specialist with over ten years of experience. He is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine, focusing on partnering with large insurance companies and hospital systems. Standing in the middle of the two prominent health...
An Interview with Dr. Jon Roxarzade – Biographical Sketch
Flipping the last page of the 2020 calendar made us realize how challenging the past year was, with its uncertainty and grim look towards the future, all caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we can say that we learned quite a lot of lessons – as a community, we have achieved a raised sense of awareness, stretching from general health requirements to new safety protocols.
As we look with renewed hope towards 2021, some of us are more than confident that this sense of awareness will be defining the medical practice for the near future. This is the case for Dr. John Roxarzade, an Iranian national who managed to escape the Iranian Revolution and move to the US, who believes that the field of dentistry is changing. “Dentistry must move from reactive to proactive and preventative,” Dr. Roxarzade tells us while adding that, even though we went through some difficult times, it is the best time for young practitioners to build themselves a career in dentistry. Let us tune in to Dr. Roxarzade and learn more about his life, his training as a dentist, his opportunities and setbacks, and his plans for the future!
The quarantine, Rachel’s Kitchen, and his children
Going through the shortcomings of quarantine made Dr. Roxarzade realize how valuable spending quality time with his wife and two children really is. “Sometimes when we work so much, we don’t really appreciate the opportunity to spend time together because everybody’s so tired. It’s nice to really be there together,” Dr. Roxarzade says, whose wife started the Rachel’s Kitchen restaurant chain. He tells us that, even though the times are a bit challenging, nevertheless, they are happy to hang in there and welcome loyal customers with delicious food every single day – “We have still managed to hang in there, thanks to John and customers who are really loyal and love the food.” What’s their secret? Dedication, respect, and lots of hard work.
Unfortunately, with so much schoolwork on their hands, the children have little time to dedicate to the family business. “They’re too young to be involved in the restaurant, but both are showing interest. My son more so than my daughter.” However, Dr. Roxarzade is doing his best to teach his children the core family values, mutual help, and respect – “That’s the thing I try to teach them, I always tell them I hope you are a kind, good, generous person and always try to leave people better than you found them.” For Dr. Roxarzade, there is no better reward than the feeling of happiness born through helping others.
“If you do something that you love and that is your passion, you don’t work a day in your life.”
Although Dr. Roxarzade boasts an impressive career, his life was not always that easy. Having fled Iran with his family when he was only 14, he quickly learned the fact that hard work is the only gateway to success. “So I’ve had a number of other jobs from clothing to book keeping to working a library, I worked throughout high school, I worked throughout college.” Working all the way through high school and college helped him build a strong character, whose work ethics were to be flawless.
“I treated every patient like they were my own mother or father.”
After graduating from dental school, Dr. Roxarzade set the foundation for his own medical practice in Beverly Hills from scratch. The first few years were riddled with hard work and long hours. “For the first few years of my practice was absolutely tough, I worked every day, seven days a week.”
However, these shortcomings were not going to break Dr. Roxarzade’s determination. He took it upon himself to treat every patient as his own mother or father and make a real difference while making money a secondary priority. “Whatever it was, I made sure I kept reinvesting and learned more and more.”
He tells us that keeping up with all the updates surrounding dentistry is the mark of a professional, humble practitioner. “You cannot rely on what you have learned or stop learning. Learning to me is a lifelong journey. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. One of my keys to success is that I am humble and hungry and want to learn.”
“We are all here as guests and God knows how much time we have.”
When talking about his success as a dentist,Dr. Roxarzade’s humility should serve as a lesson to us all. He says that material riches serve no purpose in the Afterlife, so we should use our intellect and resources to effect real change into this world. “I know that money helps you have a better life, but it is not the key to having a better life. My humbleness comes from having both.” These virtues, namely humility and the desire to bring positive change into the world, are his most prized possessions. “That’s what I try to impart on my children.”
Giving back to the young dentist community
As an accomplished practitioner, Dr. Roxarzade looks towards the younger generation of dentists with high hopes. His main hope is that his young colleagues will understand how important their mission really is. “You have the opportunity to affect the patient’s entire health,” he tells us. “The mouth is a pathway to the rest of your body. And it’s highly vascularized, so whatever happens, whatever goes into your body, happens to the rest of your body.“
Going through recovery and reinventing oneself
Dr. Roxarzade’s humility and continuous quest towards knowledge helped him overcome the worst things life had in store for him. After surviving a terrible motorcycle accident, he was forced to say goodbye to medical practice. “It was a very difficult time for me and during the six months of going through rehab. I was just thinking, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? That’s all I know, I’m a dentist.”
Once again, his determination guided him towards his mission – to help younger dentists better themselves. With that in mind, Dr. Roxarzade left the clinic for the classroom and tried his hand as a teacher.
One of the biggest challenges as a young student, he tells us, is to establish themselves on the market and create a network of loyal customers. Having started from scratch, Dr. Roxarzade knew he could guide students towards beginning their own journeys as dentists.
Right from the start, he found meaning in the act of imparting his knowledge to a class of curious young students. “I really enjoyed it. There’s nothing better than a student who truly wants to learn sitting in your class, trying to absorb everything you say and ask questions.” Through his passionate approach towards teaching and tremendous experience, he was able to connect with his students and bring positive change to their future careers.
His next step as a teacher was to apply for the dental director position at Carrington College. Dr. Roxarzade’s face lit up when he told us about the beautiful moments he experienced there. “And that was when I felt at home, I changed the program, they allowed me some leeway to do with it as I thought, and I will honestly tell you that I turned that program around.” The experience and passion that he brought into this project didn’t go unnoticed. ”I was one of their best program directors, and I believe that was because of my passion.”
What does the future have in store for Dr. Roxarzade?
However, the dental director position at Carrington College was not destined to be the last step in Dr. Roxarzade’s career. For about three and a half years now, he is investing his knowledge in Pacific Dental Services, using his vast experience in dentistry to bring positive change to young practitioners in a direct way. “I realized, okay, I can have a direct impact with these dentists that I would be supporting, and I can continue to teach.”
Even though he has settled down, overall, his perpetual thirst for knowledge is what drives him forward. “I’ve always said that if you want to age fast, stop learning.” Dr. Roxarzade’s research on the connections between the mouth and the rest of the body takes him off the beaten paths and into the unknown. “Again, the more I learn, the more I realize I need to learn.” In the end, he hopes that continuous research and dedication will help young dentists understand their mission and the paramount role that they play in their patients’ general health.
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