Have You Met?

Along with the Seven Wonders of the World, there are wondrous people in our universe. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Julika Ambrose, you might walk away saying that she’s a wonder.

 Recently retired from her practice as a Dentist, Julika says she’s now trying to figure out “What she wants to be when she grows up.” In reality, Dr. Ambrose doesn’t have a problem staying busy, because she is – and has been - involved with numerous charitable organizations, and now sits on the Boards of the Denver Foundation, the Health One Alliance, and the CU School of Dentistry.

Among others, Dr. Ambrose formerly, sat on the Boards (or committees) of the Child Abuse Prevention organization, Denver Girls, Junior League, Governor’s Commission for the Status of Women, Hospice of Metro Denver, Denver Chamber ‘s Health Committee, and St. Joseph’s Hospital Ethics Committees.

Julika is a warm, understanding, caring soul, with a love and respect for life, an appreciation for art, and a list of patients a mile long who are also dear friends. There’s not an ounce of pretense or arrogance with this beautiful, outgoing woman who came to the United States as a young girl from Budapest, Hungary. Julika, and her mother and father, a highly respected cardiologist, came here to escape from the oppression going on in their own country at that time.

If you have ever seen the famous Denver landmark, the Richtofen Castle off of Monaco Parkway, this historical residence was Julika's and her family’s home. Dr. Ambrose says the famous Prussian style show home was always the hit of the neighborhood on Halloween because it was rumored that the stately looking, and rich in history, mansion might be haunted. Many kids would peer through the fence and hang on the gate in hopes of a possible ghost or goblin sighting.

Julika, an only child, was the apple of her parent’s eye. They had high expectations for her.  She didn’t disappoint; she continued the tradition of the family by following her father into the field of medicine. During a time period where old traditions were still in place, out of 104 students, Julika was the only woman in her Dental School class. Everyone used to tease her and say that she was the best-looking woman in the class!

Throughout her rewarding career, Dr. Ambrose loved practicing dentistry – and still finds it hard to adjust to not having to go to her practice every day. Her number one goal was always to help eliminate people’s fears of seeing a dentist by assuring them that their comfort and well-being was of utmost concern to her. No pain here, because Dr. Ambrose would make sure her patients were very comfortable throughout any procedure. You’ve got to love this dentist, and her loyal patients would agree.

Today, Dr. Julika Ambrose stays busy with her non-profit causes, traveling and spending time with family and all the dear friends she has made through the years. If you know Julika, or will have the privilege of still meeting her, ask Dr. Ambrose to tell you the “Cadaver Story” about when she was a student in med school. As with all of her humorous stories, you’ll get a big chuckle; and you will see what a rich and vibrant life Dr. Ambrose has led so far. Indeed, with Julika’s future travel plans and never-ending “growth process” still in the works, there hopefully will be more funny stories from our favorite dentist to tickle your tooth!

What’s the best advice you have for someone who wants to become a dentist? Make sure you care about people; Forget about “I’m God 101 Class”, and don’t take yourself that seriously.

I understand you are retired; why did you decide to retire at this point in your life? I was fully aware of some people who hang on too long, and I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want to see any beginning signs of burn-out. And, as time goes on, I didn’t want people to continue coming to me out of obligation. You can say I wanted to be proactive while I was still ahead. I’ve sold my dental practice to a wonderful young woman, Dr. Susan Kurtz, whom I mentored through Dental School.

You hear a lot about what type of personalities it takes to be in certain professions, what type of personality does it take to be a dentist? Again you really have to care about people, because they are going to be scared and you need to be sensitive to that; and you have to like science, and be good with your hands. You do need to be a bit of a perfectionist because of the type of work you do.

When I interviewed Kate Paul, CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado, she mentioned that there are three times as many people uninsured for oral care than there are for medical care, and it is a significant problem. What do you think is the best way to offer dental care to those who may not be insured? A lot of people are not insured, and it is definitely a problem. There are several ways to help. We can contribute by working with and funding some of the free dental clinics set up for people who are unable to get dental insurance. Also, dental coverage will need to become part of Medicaid and other medical insurance programs. There are many more programs to help children, than there are to help needy adults with dental health. This is not just an urban problem, it’s also a rural problem.

What have you learned through the years from your dog “Moose”? Stubbornness; How to wear somebody down by looking pathetic and cute, and unconditional love.

What are your favorite leisure time activities? Reading and traveling.

What three things are always in your refrigerator? Radishes, bread, and ice cream.

What is something you absolutely can’t live without? Challenging Books.

What is your favorite place in your house? Reading a good book in my reading room while relaxing on my indoor chaise with “Moose” on my lap, and the book resting on “Moose.”

It’s obvious you have a love for books, what are some books you would recommend? There are a couple of books that I believe you would enjoy reading: “The Power of Now,” by Elkhart Tolle and “Fugitive Pieces” by Ann Michaels.

What do you like most about yourself? My sense of humor.

What is one thing nobody knows about you? I’m actually shy.

When you were a little girl, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? Always a Doctor!

What is a moment in your life you will never forget? When I was 7 years old, I was sent away during the bombings of World War II and was hiding in an underground cave in Budapest. I remember my mother came in wearing a big black babushka on her head, and she had blackened her face (so that she wouldn’t look attractive to the soldiers), and she found me.

Who is your mentor? My Father. He gave me no choice. He said you are only what you make of yourself. I was an only child, and there were no boys, so he had big plans for me, and I had to perform well.

If your house was up for sale, and a prospective buyer did a walk through, what would your home tell them about you? It would tell them that I like light, that I love art – and that I’m not into the decorative arts, I’m into the fine arts with nice rugs and good art.

Tell me some of your basic philosophies? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Most disappointments in life come because of unrealistic expectations.

What do you consider your proudest achievement? In addition to being a trusted professional, I have become a trusted friend to people. In 43 years of practicing, I’ve developed so many wonderful friendships.

What is your favorite clothing store? I love the stores in New York, and a few of the clothing lines that do private showings.

What is one of your favorite restaurants? The Cherry Creek Grille.

What is your most treasured possession? Things you can’t replace. My photographs and all the thank you notes and letters I’ve received through the years.

What is your greatest extravagance? Fine Art and clothes.

What is your personal motto - or favorite quote? The Winston Churchill quote: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

What is the best advice your Mom/Dad ever gave you? My mother would say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

What do you love most about living in Colorado? The weather and the people.

Is there somewhere other than Denver you would like to live? Maybe someday? A second home in Positano, Italy. It’s so beautiful there!

What’s in the future for Julika Ambrose? More traveling. Maybe write a book. I’d like to be known as the Erma Bombeck of the Dental Scene.

What would you call your book? “Open Wide – A Love Story.”

What is something you would still like to learn to do? I’d like to learn how to: Speak other languages (I know a little French and a little Hungarian), play Bridge and Golf, and do Yoga.

What would you most like to be remembered for? My professionalism, my loyalty, and above all, my humor.