Dr. Carl Findley Jr., an Albany dentist, has a passion for his work, along with an equally strong passion for life in general. When he’s away from the office, the Fitzgerald native enjoys hunting Bobwhite quail and also does some scuba diving. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
After spening some time with Albany dentist Dr. Carl Findley Jr. recently, and it didn’t take long to discover the Fitzgerald native has a genuine passion for his work — and life in general. An avid bird hunter, Findley has 40 bird dogs in his kennel and spends as much of his free time as possible in pursuit of Southern Bobwhite Quail, which he fondly refers to as “the prince of gamebirds.”
Findley shared some thoughts with Herald reporter Terry Lewis.
Q: If you were fresh out of school today, what would you first do in searching for a job?
A: In my profession, word of mouth is everything. Service is everything. I would pursue an associate position with an individual that had a great passion and enthusiasm for dentistry. I would research that person before I ever went to work for them.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was mowing lawns in Fitzgerald, starting probably in the sixth grade — I learned to take pride in my work and that led to a high work ethic.
Q: What was the first thing you bought after you got your first paycheck?
A: My first check really came after teaching and coaching school and graduating from Valdosta State in 1969. I taught and coached in the Smyrna area. My first check was used to pay the rent for our first apartment and educational loans.
Q: Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?
A: I am very fortunate and pleased to be one of the L.D. Pankey Institute’s Lead Faculty. My primary mentor was Dr. L.D. Pankey, who is the founder of that institute, and Dr. Irwin Becker, who was also there starting in 1986.
Q: How did the recession affect your business and are the effects still lingering?
A: I was happy to be a part of the Golden Age of Dentistry in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. When the recession hit in 2007, it really did not affect our practice. The downturn in the economy is still lingering. Those who don’t believe it should look at your home values, etc. The foundation that the practice was built upon consists of two things: service to our patients that is second to none and a commitment to The Golden Rule. We treat our patients how we would want to be treated. We achieve those two things every day.
Q: If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (email, Internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be and why?
A: I wouldn’t do away with television, but I’d like to see us return to simpler shows like The Rifleman and the Andy Griffith Show.
Q: “I am up and going by …”
A: Five every morning.
Q: Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?
A: My favorite hobby is the pursuit of the Southern Bobwhite Quail, the prince of gamebirds. We are fortunate to have 40 bird dogs in our kennels.
Q: If you could take back one decision in your career, what would it be?
A: Working with two of the most talented hygienists and talented staff members, I would be hard put to take back a decision that I have made in dentistry. We have been blessed with thousands of wonderful friends and patients.
Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
A: I would have to say that the staff that I am fortunate to have and the exceptional patients that we are privileged to treat is the best thing about my job, and I am very proud of the quality of care that we deliver. We strive for perfection but sometimes settle for excellence.
Q: What’s the worst thing about your job?
A: Dentistry is a lot of work if done correctly. There is a lot of preplanning that goes into the complex care that we deliver. It would be hard to say that there is a worse aspect to my job. There really isn’t!
Q: What was the most beneficial course you took in school?
A: I received an exceptional dental school education. I graduated with honors and with three advanced honors that I did not expect. I graduated in the top 5 percent of my class. The best thing that ever happened to me in education was the L.D. Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education. I am in contact with dentists from every state, Canada, Western Europe, Japan and China. I am fortunate to be one of approximately 40 Lead Faculty at the L.D. Pankey Institute.
Q: What would be your dream job?
A: I’m in it every day. I get to do advanced dentistry that keeps me on the path to learning. I say on the path because the learning we all have should be a journey, not a destination.
Q: Finish this sentence: “On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself …”
A: On the first anniversary of my retirement I see myself still trying to find some way to improve the lives of people and animals.
Q: What is the one trait a community leader cannot be without?
A: I would combine honesty, high ethics and integrity without compromise and, of course, practice the Golden Rule and do what’s right.
Q: What do you see as Southwest Georgia’s biggest medical challenge?
A: Attempt to service, through dentistry, those patients that do not have adequate dental care. We accomplish that in our practice by doing thousands of dollars in pro bono dentistry each year. We do that as a staff.
Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in dentistry over the past several years?
A: The biggest change has been the technology. For example, our office has Cone Beam Technology that has taken diagnostics in TMJ therapy, periodontal therapy, implant therapy, pathology and decay to another higher level.
However, the private practice of dentistry is threatened by corporate dentistry. Corporate dentistry eliminates the “one on one” and the relationship based dentistry that we have been working to provide for four decades. The corporate model is misunderstood. You are a number. You never get to see the same dentist.
Q: What was the best vacation you ever took?
A: Scuba diving in the Caribbean would have to be the best. It is another world down there, as long as you play it safe. A close second is the vacation that we recently took to Primland in Virginia. (pheasant hunting and mountain R.T.V. trailing)
Q: Any parting words of wisdom?
A: You bet. If you have been blessed, be a blessing. Always try to practice the Golden Rule. Do what is right at all times. Try your best to be the best parent, son or daughter or grandparents that you can possibly be. Take care of your family. Find out what your purpose is in the world and pursue it. It’s not how much you gather, but how much you scatter that counts.