Praise for Einstein Dental Medicine’s Former Chairman
If you want to know all about Einstein Healthcare Network’s Department of Dental Medicine, look no further than Alan J. Borislow, DDS, the department’s first full-time chairman and longtime Orthodontic Division Chairman and Director of the department’s highly praised Orthodontic Residency Program. Now retired from those positions, Dr. Borislow is a walking history book.
Dr. Borislow would be the first to tell you that he alone is not the author of that book, nor is he alone responsible for all the high points of the department’s illustrious history. On the latter point in particular, he will tell you, there is a lot of credit to go around.
The department hearkens back to the early 1920s and the days when Einstein was known as The Jewish Hospital. Dr. Borislow’s involvement began a little over 50 years ago when he became one of the first two residents—Melvin Silverman, DDS, was the other resident—in the department’s nascent orthodontic residency program, which had been launched by Drs. Maxwell Fogel (the department is named in his honor) and Jack Magill. Becoming one of the first residents was something of a leap of faith.
“Dr. Fogel had the foresight to think about starting an orthodontic graduate residency program outside of a dental school,” Dr. Borislow recalls. “At the time, all the orthodontic residency programs were based in dental schools, and he felt that orthodontics, which was his specialty, was a health service, and a hospital setting presented comprehensive health care training programs in so many disciplines, that he thought that orthodontics should be part of that environment.”
Dr. Borislow, who graduated from Temple University School of Dentistry in 1961, had entered the Armed Forces as a dentist. In 1964, when he left the service, he accepted Dr. Fogel’s invitation to join the new residency program.
“I had always wanted to be an orthodontist, and I was fortunate to have been invited by Dr. Fogel to join what was at that time a pilot program,” he says. “It was not accredited by the American Dental Association, but in order to be accredited, you needed to have residents in training. This was an innovation for Dr. Fogel, and he ran into a good bit of opposition, but he had the foresight to have prepared an excellent program, of course requiring accreditation visits from the American Dental Association. This was a significant step forward.”
The program became accredited, and Dr. Borislow graduated in 1967. He is now celebrating his 50th anniversary as an orthodontist.
Dr. Fogel ultimately became the department chairman, and continued as chairman of the Division of Orthodontics and Orthodontics Program Director, through 1978.
Dr. Borislow succeeded him as department chair and chairman of the Orthodontics Division on an interim basis in 1978, and permanently in 1980. He was also Residency Program Director through 2014. The Division of Orthodontics is named in his honor. He has received some of the highest honors a dental professional can receive, among these the O.B. Vaughan Special Recognition Award given by the American Board of Orthodontics. And together with Milton B. Asbell, DDS, MSc, MA, he entertained his passion for history by writing “A Tradition of Excellence,” which documents the department’s entire history. He is now officially part-time faculty.
During his time as department chair, Dr. Borislow presided over improvements and enhancements to the department, including an ambitious plan to modernize, expand and relocate the dental clinic. The facility fairly sparkles with all the up-to-date equipment and accoutrements.
Dr. Borislow has contributed in so many ways, his colleagues say, but it is in his role as Residency Program Director that he has made his mark.
Harold Middleberg, DMD, a one-time chief resident in the program, is now a faculty member who teaches comprehensive clinical orthodontics. When his residency ended in 1990, he was asked to stay on as faculty and, he says with a smile, “I never left.”
The Right Personality
When he looks back on his residency and how it prepared him for his career, Dr. Middleberg says that whatever success he has had is in many ways attributable to Dr. Borislow, who, he adds, has the right personality for Residency Program Director.
“He is there to help you be a professional,” says Dr. Middleberg, “but it goes personally, also. At that time in a dentist’s career, things happen. I lost my mother when I was here. Good things, too. Some residents have babies. Some residents get married. And he is just always there. You can tell he genuinely cares about how you’re doing. At the same time, he doesn’t cross the line. He maintains the air of respect that’s necessary to be chairman of the department, but he also has a personal interest in every one of them, and shows it.”
Vanessa Morenzi, DMD, now Program Director and Chair of the Alan J. Borislow Division of Orthodontics, says she has learned much from Dr. Borislow about her proper role in the department. “He never thought of it as his position, which is what he taught me,” Dr. Morenzi says. “It was never the position as Alan Borislow. He thinks that whatever he does is a reflection of Einstein and the Orthodontic Division and the Dental Department. It was never him. He carries the legacy of everybody who came before him. It’s a huge, huge responsibility I think he shoulders.”
His alumni have come to see him in both roles—the devoted mentor, and inheritor and caretaker of the department’s tradition of excellence.
On September 28, nearly 30 of them came together from throughout the country—from as far away as California and Colorado—for a dinner in his honor. Given that the Orthodontics Division graduates only three residents every other year, the actual number of alumni residents is about 70, and they practice throughout the country—so it was an impressive turnout. Many presented letters of heartfelt gratitude.
“In a lot of these letters, the alumni say that he didn’t just teach them to be an orthodontist, he taught them to be a professional,” says Dr. Middleberg. “He gave people opportunities and they’re very thankful for that. He made the experience, while they were here, a very good experience.”
“We had sent out a letter to alumni just to gauge interest,” he adds, “and I think one of the alumnus really summed it up. He said, ‘I’m in. I don’t care where it is or when it is, I’ll be there.’”