Why did you choose to go into dentistry, and your specialty in particular?
I knew that I wanted to be in a helping profession, and my grandfather was a dentist, so I was familiar with the field. I was torn between medicine and dentistry, and once I started dental school I was immediately drawn to oral medicine, because it operates at the interface between the two. I get to work closely with both physicians and dentists, and I spend most of my day talking with patients and developing diagnoses, rather than performing procedures. It fits my personality—I really enjoy the mental exercise of diagnostic work, and I get to work with patients who often struggle to find the right diagnosis and treatment. Helping them is very satisfying.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Just getting to where I am now was a huge mountain to climb. I was a liberal arts major in college, with no plans to go into healthcare, so I had to return to university for prerequisite work before completing dental school and residency. It was a 10-year journey that I’m proud to have completed, and I’m excited to start my next chapter here at CU.
What do you think are the most important attributes of a strong student and future dentist?
A call to service, a strong work ethic, and a desire to connect with patients. We must remember that our work is for the benefit of our patients and communities; that our work is demanding and requires excellence; and that our patients are people with emotional needs that we need to fill. If you can keep those three balls in the air, you will succeed as a student and as a doctor.