Why did you choose to go into dentistry, and your specialty in particular?
I went to a high school career day at Marquette Dental School where I was able to place a Class II amalgam on a dentiform, and I was hooked! The idea of working with my hands, helping fellow humans, the esthetic aspects, intricate skills, getting paid well for it, owning my own business – it was a perfect fit. I became a chemistry major because of the materials aspect of dentistry and streamlined my college courses which allowed me to apply and get into dental school early. I excelled in dental school, loved all there was to learn, studied hard, always had part-time job from high school days, and took it all in! I did extremely well, which I did not realize at the time would open many future dental doors.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My faculty advisor in dental school was Dr. Henry Grove, a board-certified prosthodontist and Army veteran. He was a tough instructor and a man of few, well-chosen words, but for some reason we got along well enough. Clearly he saw something in me, in a fatherly way. Shockingly, when I asked him for a letter of recommendation, he said he would not write one for me! I was crushed. He went on to say, in his opinion, no one should go into a residency right out of dental school. He suggested I apply to a GPR and “learn how to give a few mandibular blocks before deciding your whole career on what you just learned in dental school.” Reluctantly, I did just that. With his letter, I got into the USAF GPR residency at Langley Regional Hospital.
Describe your teaching style or philosophy.
I believe all orthodontic residency programs should have a mix of faculty, staff and residents from various backgrounds, cultures and universities because it is in this mix of different viewpoints that ideas for meaningful learning and progress emerge.
I believe we owe it to students, who have put their trust in us, to give to them freely, the best of ourselves: our best practices, not our way or our opinions, but a solid foundation built on the knowledge and evidence we currently have, and the science which has stood the test of time. We ought to be able to convey that knowledge, in current ways, which keep them engaged, curious, thirsting for that knowledge and pursuing more.
I believe in positive reinforcement of ideas and practices. I believe in immediate feedback and correction. I believe in using first names – we are all colleagues, only some of us are younger and better looking!
I accept and enjoy the challenge of being available, at any time, for the residents' needs, questions, guidance, and hands-on help. My door is always open. It is what they want and need in this critical phase of their training as orthodontists.
Unknowingly to them, but clearly because of them, my students have made me a better person, provider, and teacher than I ever could have imagined.