James McIlwain, DD, had tunnel vision. He wanted to become a dentist and specialize in pediatrics. Fast forward 35 years and the Air Force veteran, husband (52 years and counting) and father is in practice with his daughter, also a pediatric dentist. And his son works in the office, too.
The practice has grown since the first day when there were just seven patients. The office is family-oriented, with a nephew, son-in-law and an Emory dental classmate of Dr. McIlwain working together, treating patients like family. The original office expanded. Next a second office was added.
With two busy locations, Dr. McIlwain says, “I count my blessings daily, love going to work and have no retirement plans.”
What is the most rewarding part of being a dad?
Watching the kids grow up and be productive and successful.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
Go on vacation.
What is the most challenging part of fatherhood?
Being consistent and avoiding comparison with your childhood.
Who influenced the kind of father you are?
My parents influenced me.
As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?
I see my role as provider, role model and life example.
What advice would you give other fathers?
Be adaptable. You have to deal with change and unexpected intrusions to your schedule.
It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you deal with this and make time for them?
I leave work at the office — physically and mentally. If choices are necessary, you should favor your family.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I’m a native Floridian and spent my early years in South Florida.
What is your biggest fear?
I don’t want to be forced to slow down in my daily activities.
What makes you happy?
I enjoy helping others. I also like to be surrounded by caring, loyal, supportive friends.
Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?
It’s a tossup between restaurants and the airport. Frequently, eating dinner at one of our favorite eateries includes planning about where to go for our next good meal. The airport is quiet, clean and orderly. It provides the door to a new adventure, even if it is business related.