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Charity Begins at Home: An Interview with Dr. Samer Othman, D.D.S., M.P.H.

Everybody loves a good home improvement project and the benefits of the results—a home that meets and exceeds your needs better than before. What if that home is the entire town, the city in which you were born and raised and you had the knowledge and resources to strengthen it forever? Would you do it? Dr. Othman did, and still does.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Samer Othman, D.D.S., M.P.H., grew up in and now makes his living in the same city. He has operated his practice, Advanced Dental Arts, for the past eight years. Aside from managing his dental practice, Dr. Othman dedicates a large chunk of his days volunteering to make Macon and the middle Georgia area a greater place than it already is.

“As we better our community, it betters our lives and our families’ lives,” he shared. “There are only benefits to giving back to the place where you were raised and where you live. But, to improve things, you have to take action.”

Homegrown Talent

Dr. Othman’s father, Mufid A. Othman, M.D., has been a nephrologist for nearly 50 years. 

“I grew up around medicine. I used to read my father’s old nephrology textbooks and learned about the parts of the kidney far earlier than other kids,” he said. 

As he reached his teen years, though, Dr. Othman saw the heavy toll the job took on his father, who was his hero. 

“He was gone when I woke up in the morning and still not home before I went to bed at night. That wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a family and be able to go to my kids’ activities,” Dr. Othman shared.

He appreciated that his father made his best effort to get to football games, band concerts and theater performances. The job, however, still demanded much of his time. But that didn’t deter Dr. Othman from medicine. A mentoring program in high school paired him with his childhood dentist.

“She was an amazing person, and I thought hanging out with her all day would be a lot of fun. In those two weeks, I realized that I wanted to be a dentist,” he said.

By the way, the senior Dr. Othman is still practicing and working at least 40 hours a week! 

 

Advanced Dental Arts

“My practice is general dentistry,” Dr. Othman shared. “When I opened in January of 2014, I hung up my shingle and hoped patients would come. I saw a grand total of seven patients that first week, all friends and family.”

Dr. Othman started Advanced Dental Arts, a place for compassionate service and beautiful smiles, as so many entrepreneurs do, with a few people he knew. He gradually learned how to grow his business. 

“I have one part-time and three full-time hygienists, three assistants and one administrator/insurance coordinator. Now we see about 30 to 35 patients a day. We’ve been voted Best of the Best in middle Georgia for five years and Best of Georgia this year,” he said.

Dr. Othman credits his staff and their expertise and the community support for the practice’s success. 

 

A Community Focus

Dr. Othman learned the value of community service from his mother. He took her lessons to heart while still in school, immersing himself in leadership roles and the university community. 

“I was in the leadership of the Biology Honor Society and Vice President of Mercer University and the National Student Associations. I just enjoyed being involved in the university,” he shared.

That passion became an integral part of his professional life. One of Dr. Othman’s volunteering activities is lecturing at his alma mater. 

“The theme of my lecture is ‘fail forward.’ You sometimes fail, but you use that failure to propel yourself forward. It is not an excuse for failure, but instead is a reason to strive for success,” he said.

 

Macon Volunteer Clinic

Dr. Othman’s largest volunteer activity is his work at the Macon Volunteer Clinic, which provides free primary medical and dental care for uninsured working adults. The clinic offers a wide array of services, including primary medical care, dental and eye care, diagnostic and testing services, mental health counseling and education. Dr. Othman is the Chairman of the clinic’s Board of Directors. 

“I’ve been volunteering there since 2008 answering phones, filing, being a medical scribe and now being a volunteer dentist. As Board chair, I’m hoping to lead the clinic to a successful 2022,” he shared.

 

The Value of Volunteering

Dr. Othman focuses on volunteering to help others. His intentions are purely to help those in need. 

“Humanity. It’s my hope that everyone becomes a healthcare provider to help people. We make people healthy. We can help them find jobs, get out of pain, find love. I feel that our duty as human beings is to give back. We offer pro bono treatment on a case by case basis and I set aside a certain amount that I give every year,” he said.

Dr. Othman points out that there are many volunteering opportunities, big and small, and the opportunities you choose don’t have to be related to your profession.

“I’m hoping to help provide affordable produce to people that live within these food deserts that don’t have ready access to grocery stores. I learned gardening from my father. It will get me out of the dental office and still allow me to help the community that has supported me,” he shared.

 

A Parting Reminder

“My family is the reason for everything I do. Through their actions, my parents taught me the importance of community and volunteering,” he said. 

Dr. Othman has found a satisfying way to balance family, dental practice and giving back to his beloved community.

“I hope that I’m making my family proud. I hope my kids will be proud of me when they’re older and  proudly talk about me,” he said. 

And none doubt that they will.

Gaye Newton
Gaye Newton