Editorial: Army Dental Corps develops leaders

On April 12th, 10 junior officers selected as exemplary leaders within the Army Dental Corps attended a professional development event at the historic ADA House in Washington, D.C. The event provided an opportunity for Corps-specific Officer development during the Army Medical Department’s Junior Leader Course (JLC). These 10 officers received an update on the American Dental Association regarding the organizations collaboration with the Army Dental Corps from Dr. Frank Kyle, manager, legislative and regulatory policy. Additionally, key strategic leaders, to include MG Thomas R. Tempel Jr., Col. Dianne Pannes and Maj. James Giesen, provided briefs on leadership development, future of the Army Dental Corps, talent management, broadening opportunities and the impact of the National Defense Authorization Act on military medicine.

Junior Leader Course is a five-day leadership development approved short course that includes exposure to a variety of interprofessional and interagency activities. Attendees participate in discussions and observe presentations by strategic military leaders to build the critical knowledge and experience that better enable them to address future complex issues within Army Medicine and the Department of Defense. Attendees are selected through a lengthy nomination and selection process that identifies outstanding Active, Reserve and National Guard Component AMEDD Officers, Enlisted and Civilian members. These individuals consistently demonstrate the core Army values and warri-or ethos along with the skills, attributes and potential required of future leaders within the Army Medical Department.

The selected Dental Corps Officers to attend JLC were:

Major Nicholas D. Wilson, D.D.S, M.S. – Comprehensive Dentist, Fort Riley, Kansas.
Captain Ryan H. Allred, D.D.S. – General Dentist, United States Military Academy, New York.
Captain Emily A. Bragg, D.M.D. – General Dentist, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Captain Allen J. Davis, D.M.D. – Brigade Dental Surgeon, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Captain Stephanie L. Helmus, D.D.S., M.S., ABGD – Comprehensive Dentist, Dental Health Activity Bavaria Captain George L. Hauser, D.D.S. – General Dentist, Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Captain Stona R. Jackson, D.D.S., M.S. – Orthodontist, Dental Health Activity Bavaria.
Captain Michael S. Masterson, D.M.D – General Dentist, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Captain Kevin T. Paige, D.D.S. – General Dentist, United States Army Reserves, Vallejo, California.
Captain Abby Raymond, D.D.S. – General Dentist, Alabama Army National Guard.

Feedback from officers attending the course highlight some of the strategic lessons learned, lessons applicable to both the military and to organized dentistry. CPT Hauser stated, “Decisions and plans made at the strategic level may be simple in design or intent, but incredibly complex in execution. So much so, that not only must we look to avoid paralysis by analysis, but also keep in mind that things will change on a daily basis. The point to me is that we needn’t be overly concerned with the fact that the change is occurring, but rather we must be active participants so we can ensure the changes that do occur do so without compromising patient safety and care, along with preserving our role as a Dental Corps to be the strongest advocates for our patients, the Warfighters, whose readiness is our top priority. ”

The Army Dental Corps is comprised of nearly 1,100 officers serving globally to protect the oral health of our soldiers and ensure the readiness of America’s premier fighting force. These officers represent all of the recognized specialties and are the primary oral health care advocates for the nearly 470,000 U.S. Army active duty soldiers and support approximately 530,000 Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Duty assignments range from providing comprehensive care in a garrison environment, much like any civilian group practice, to completing expeditionary dental care in austere environments in direct support of combat troops. Additionally, Dental Corps officers are tasked to serve on humanitarian missions, in support of health diplomacy efforts and as Recovery Officers for the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency. Outside of the regular scope of dentistry, officers serve in key leadership billets and policy development assignments at the Capitol, Defense Health Headquarters, Office of the Surgeon General and beyond. Ultimately, the Army Dental Corps strives to develop, integrate and sustain a collaborative dental team committed to readiness and to be a key team member in Army Medicine.

The Army collaborates with the American Dental Association through a variety of liaison positions. As liaisons, selected Officers are appointed to represent the interests of the Army to non-federal entities such as the American Dental Association and the Association of Army Dentistry. These liaisons provide guidance and serve as subject matter experts regarding the federal dental services. Currently, MG Thomas R. Tempel Jr. and Col. Craig Patterson represent the Army as delegates to the ADA House of Delegates. Following his retirement, MG Tempel’s duties will transfer to the 28th Dental Corps Chief. Cpt. Adam D. Bennett serves as the FDS consultant to the New Dentist Committee. These relationships have the potential to promote future collaboration in research between the two organizations to advance and improve oral health care on a global level. It is noted that the other branches of the Federal Dental Services (U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Public Health Services Corps., and U.S. Veteran Affairs) also have representation at the ADA House of Delegates and in other capacities.

For individuals that are interested in utilizing their professional skillset to serve our country, the Army Dental Corps is searching for general dentists, oral surgeons, prosthodontists, and periodontists to join our team, with options for full time (active duty) and part time

(Reserves) service! We also offer full scholarships, stipends, and loan repayments for dental schools and residencies. While providing excel-lent dental care to our Soldiers and country at large, U.S. Army Dental Officers are given opportunities for advanced education in general dentistry, residencies, and fellowships, as well as research, mentoring, and leadership training. Competitive salaries and bonuses, free healthcare, 30 days of paid vacation, retirement savings plans, and free malpractice insurance are just a few of the benefits of joining this elite team! To learn more, please contact the U.S. Army Dental Corps Recruiting Integration Officer: Captain Rachel Misuraca, DMD via email at usarmy.knox.usarec.list.9bde-dental-corps-rio@mail.mil.

This editorial is written by Cpt. Adam D. Bennett, D.M.D., executive fellow, Office of the Chief, U.S. Army Dental Corps.

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