Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley


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Like many aspiring students on a track toward dental school, I studied Latin with the hope that someday my understanding of Latin root word forms would translate into a greater value to me as a dentist.  That day never really came as an obvious epiphany, but rather as thousands of subtle moments later while reading, listening, or learning.

And it also came the day when that I started to attend The Pankey Institute, and saw the tag line was “quid pro quo”. And it confused me. It confused me because all standard definitions of quid pro quo sound transactional – something is given or taken in return for something else, so it did not line up with the Instution’s preferred definition: “Give before receiving”, which has a much different tone…a much different intention.

Even today, due to my Latin training when I see “quid pro quo”, I have to stop myself and insert the Pankey definition when thinking about my profession. And I would argue that it is deeply important that we all do so – because viewing dentistry primarily as a transactional business, is to devalue it down to a highly skilled trade. And this totally neglects the spiritual and more holistic aspects of our work which are the true source of joy, fulfillment, and meaning over long careers – a lesson Dr. Pankey routinely taught.

The Pankey Institute’s definition, of quid pro quo is more aligned with words like Scott Peck’s “love” (selflessly giving to another with the sole agenda of helping them to grow and to become more healthy and fully functioning), trust, and investing…investing in the sense that we believe that if we selflessly facilitate in other’s greater self-knowledge, self- understanding, and personal empowerment, they will reciprocate by gifting us an opportunity to help them achieve their goals.

In other words, we offer our true and sincere caring as the “quid”, and if done in the right way, at the right time, with the right person we get the “quo” in return as a reward; a reward experienced as a new trusting and deeply helpful relationship which yeilds respect, admiration, and appreciation in an ongoing fashion.

We get emotional confirmation in return. We get proper financial compensation in return as a SYMBOL of how much the person values the relationship and what it has brought into their life.

In a recent sermon, our minister said: “The summons for us as people of God…those who are called to be full of compassion, mercy, and love, is to live in such a way that people ask ‘Why’? Why do you feed me? Why do you clothe me? Why do you visit me when I am sick? Why do you do these things for me? And our response will be, simply, because I care…because I love you.”

Quid pro quo.

THAT is what it means.

Paul A, Henny, DDS

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