Empowering the next generation of dentists starts today


I had the simple path into dentistry. Rising up with a household stuffed with dentists and family working within the subject of dentistry, it was straightforward to get an inside view of the career and be taught early on that it appealed to me. Although it took numerous time and work finding out by school and for the DAT to make it up to now, it was nonetheless straightforward for me to ascertain what my objectives have been. Generally I ponder if I’d have been motivated to work as exhausting as I did with out experiencing the clear image of the day-to-day lifetime of a dentist in my household.  

Lately, I spoke with a school member at my college, Dr. Cleverick (CD) Johnson, who helped me notice that being uncovered to dentistry at an early age was a driving issue for the place I’m at the moment. Dr. Johnson is well-known at UTSD Houston, at present serving as a professor and vice chair within the division of basic apply and dental public well being, in addition to the director of the pressing care clinic. A lesser-known reality is that he was the primary African American UTSD Houston alumni tenured professor at our faculty. Not solely does he encourage and mentor quite a few college students at our faculty, he additionally helps the imaginative and prescient of our native Pupil Nationwide Dental Affiliation chapter to mentor underrepresented college students. He adamantly believes that to proceed growing range and inclusion in our career, it’s essential to encourage kids at a younger age and to offer them the identical motivation that drove me to pursue dentistry.

When he began as school, Dr. Johnson carried out applications to carry underprivileged college students into the dental workplace and supplied excursions of the dental college — actions he believes we must always proceed. Whereas we have been speaking, he confirmed me a photograph of 4 African American elementary-aged college students he and his spouse had hung out instructing. He then pointed at every of them one-by-one saying: “Nurse, nurse, physician, pharmacist.” He informed me that every of those ladies have been uncovered to drugs at a younger age and that turned their motivation to pursue and reach having a profession in well being care. The identical may be accomplished in dentistry.     

With out embracing range, this world might not have been capable of admire the accomplishments and contributions of the primary African American dentist Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman or the primary African American dental professor at Harvard, Dr. George Franklin Grant. These people have been kids of slaves and broke by the dental barrier throughout the late 1800s, a time when range wasn’t embraced. College students at the moment nonetheless wrestle with this. Whereas I do imagine we must always begin celebrating the feats of dentists of colour, we additionally ought to make a higher effort to introduce younger folks of colour to the sphere and welcome them with open arms. Who is aware of — perhaps it would encourage the following era of dentists.

Within the phrases of Dr. Johnson, “As a practising basic dentist, you meet over 10,000 folks in your life. As a school member, you meet 10,000 pupil dentists who will then meet 10,000 folks of their lives. Take into consideration the impression you can also make to so many individuals.”

Sometime, I hope to comply with within the footsteps of somebody who taught me about dentistry, however extra importantly, about life. Sometime, I hope to be a mentor to others, simply as Dr. Johnson has been to me.

~Nicholas Tipton, Houston ’23


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