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Dr. Flora Monique Phipps

Faculty Feature: Meet (Flora) Monique M. Phipps, DDS

CU Dental Clinical Associate Professor, Restorative Dentistry, and Senior Director, Veterans Services and Care Equity

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Written by Laura Ramsey on July 21, 2022

Dr. Phipps graduated from Hampton University in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in biology, then earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. After dental school, she attended an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program for one year before heading west. She moved to Las Vegas in 2005 where she practiced part time before transferring to the University of Nevada School of Dental Medicine and has been in dental education ever since.

She started her career as an assistant professor in Clinical Sciences and held several leadership roles during her tenure. She became a clinical team leader in 2008 and remained so for 14 years; served as director of comprehensive care; worked as the department’s vice chair; and accepted the interim chair position shortly before the pandemic began. In 2019, she was inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor society. She has also served and continues to serve as a Dental Officer in the Army National Guard since 2010.

In 2022, Dr. Phipps relocated to Denver, Colorado, and now is an associate professor-in-residence at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus, where she continues to supervise clinical care as a faculty member in the restorative department. She has contributed significantly to the field of dentistry, particularly in the area of educational excellence, teaching, and mentorship of her students and peers.

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Why did you choose dentistry?

I’ve wanted to be a dentist—as crazy as this sounds—since I was in the 8th grade. I knew I wanted to be in the health care field, and I knew I enjoyed working with my hands. During my advanced education in general dentistry program, I had to work, interface and teach with the predoctoral students. That’s when I first considered teaching as a viable path within my profession. Reflecting on my own education, I never saw instructors who were young, female or a minority. What really struck me was the thought that seeing someone with those characteristics would have reinforced that I really could understand all the nuances that dentistry requires but with a more familiar face. Realizing that I could be that person to someone else inspired me to pursue dental education.

What are you looking forward to the most about your role and why?

I am so excited to be joining the CU School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Restorative Dentistry. I have been in education for a long time at a singular institution and wanted the opportunity to continue to grow both professionally and personally. There are challenges at every institution, but at this stage in my career I am excited to learn a new system while continuing to be a positive, encouraging mentor to the upcoming students in the program. I hope to lead with compassion and to handle stressful situations with grace.

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

I am the product of a military upbringing, which means that I am not really “from” anywhere. My father served 24 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then went on to work as a civilian contractor. My mother has worked 38 years for the U.S. Department of Defense as an elementary school principal. I was born in New Hampshire but in my formative years I lived in Spain, Italy, Okinawa, and then mainland Japan for the remainder of my education. Seeing the world and growing up in multiple countries has given me an appreciation of working with all types of cultures and a serious bug for travel.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

There are two sayings I heard recently that resonated with me. The first is, “You’re never as good as they say you are, and you’re never as bad as they say you are.” The second is, “Compromise everything but your core values.” Dentistry (including dental school) is very rewarding, but also takes a lot of perseverance and hard work. You will be constantly tested to please your patients, employees or students, and sometimes you need to listen to your gut and not be swayed. There are days when it feels like you can’t do anything right and then there are days that it seems too easy. Life has a way of keeping you humble to ensure that you stay grounded. I try to always take a couple of moments every day to check my ego and hold on to the positives. There is more to life than your profession. Finding time to appreciate everyone’s journey can genuinely enrich your path.  

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