Shaping the Future
words by Merry Sue Baom / photograph by Dan Katz
hen Peter DeSciscio, DMD, recalls the regional dental exam he took as a student, the test itself is not what comes to mind; it’s the examiner. “I remember thinking that a dentist who had become a clinical examiner must be excellent at his profession and highly esteemed by all of his peers,” he says. “I wanted to be in that position.”
Today, he is. DeSciscio is a clinical examiner of the periodontal/restorative portion of Northeast Region Board dental exam, or NERB, as it’s known. The 1985 NJDS graduate spends three consecutive days grading students throughout the Northeast — from New England to Washington, DC — and in Michigan and Chicago, two or three times a year. But before he ever leaves home, there is work to do. He, himself, has to take a written test for NERB examiners, which he sends in to NERB for grading. No matter how many times a dentist has served as an examiner, he or she is still required to take the test before each grading session. When DeSciscio arrives at a dental school to conduct the exam, he first spends a full day with all of the other examiners doing what are called calibrations. “We look at models of the preparations and go over all the grading criteria,” he explains. “That’s done to ensure that everyone is grading the same way, as much as humanly possible.” During the actual exams, he evaluates students’ treatment on live patients who are having operative and periodontal procedures performed.
As if that weren’t enough, DeSciscio runs a private practice in Perth Amboy, NJ, and teaches part time in NJDS’s Department of Restorative Dentistry, where he is a clinical associate professor. And there’s more: He was recently elected Second Vice President of the American Association of Dental Examiners (AADE). He will eventually become the president, but now serves as a liaison among dental educators, accreditors, regulators and examiners, and helps carry out the AADE’s mission of exchanging, developing and disseminating information to state dental regulatory boards. Although he only gets a small stipend for his work, he says he feels privileged to be an officer of the AADE. “I’m part of a group that is overseeing dentistry and guiding its future; I have the opportunity to actually help maintain the high standards of the profession,” he explains. “And doing these things helps me to further develop my own skills.”
The Allentown, NJ resident has a long history of being involved in professional dental organizations. It began when he was a student at NJDS and served as president of the Student Government Association for two consecutive years. He later went on to become president of the NJDS Alumni Association, and has been president of the Middlesex County Dental Society, the Fauchard Dental Society and the NJDS Academy of General Dentistry. He currently serves as president of the NJDS Academic Assembly.
DeSciscio is active at the state level, serving as president of the New Jersey Board of Dentistry, which issues and manages licenses and protects the public,” he explains. “We work to ensure that dentistry in New Jersey is held to the highest of standards. We want our profession to be as safe and effective as possible.”
One of the things he enjoys most is acting as a liaison for people from different organizations who have questions or concerns. “I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I usually know of someone who can help,” he says. “I find it rewarding when both parties are pleased and, perhaps, come back and ask me to help again. To me, that’s what it’s all about.
He currently serves as president of the NJDS Academic Assembly.
“These appointments often keep me much busier than I would otherwise be,” he says. “But I feel honored that I have been asked to serve, and I believe serving is an honorable thing to do.”