April 7, 2017 was the best day of my life outside graduating dental school. I married the one person who truly “gets” me and loves me for every weird quirk. Not to mention, we had the biggest, best party in Playa Mujeres, Mexico, for our destination wedding.
When Ben proposed to me in December of 2015, I knew automatically that no matter when we had our wedding, I was early enough in my career that I wanted to spend the rest of it known as Dr. Katie Stuchlik rather than Dr. Katie Sowa. This was a personal decision that I realize isn’t right for everybody. I feel strongly in sharing the same last name as my husband and future children in every aspect of my life. I wanted to simplify future concerns about differing names, knowing it will take time for those to who have known me as Katie Sowa in my profession to adjust to the change.
The process to change your last name on your dental license is not as hard as it seems (in Texas at least). The hardest part of changing my last name is teaching others how to properly pronounce Stuchlik (“stew-click”, by the way).
The first step to changing your last name is the same as every other person trying to change a name- sit in line at the social security office. For me, this took less than 30 minutes. After the social security office, I went to the DMV. In Houston, we’re lucky enough to schedule an appointment online for a name change, saving tons of time.
After all the official name change business, I found it was pretty simple to change my name with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. Of course there was another fee associated with the name change in addition to filling out a form to mail in. Within a few weeks, my name was changed on my dental license.
Changing your name with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency was also super simple. My office manager changed my name with my National Provider Identifier (NPI) number and then forwarded this information to all of our in-network insurance companies to insure claims are paid properly. Every insurance company has a different process for reporting a name change. Fortunately, somebody else handled this for me.
By far, the easiest part in changing my name was with the Texas Dental Association. I simply emailed the membership department with the Texas Dental Association and explained my situation. Within an hour, my name was changed with the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association and the Greater Houston Dental Society.
I’m not going to lie, the overall name change is exhausting. I still have yet to change my name with my gym membership or Amazon Prime account. However, majority of the process affecting your dental career is fairly straight forward and worth it with a little leg work up front. Over six months later, our office staff still explains to our patients that Dr. Sowa and Dr. Stuchlik are the same person. All of this, for me, is worth it.
Dr. Katie Stuchlik is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. She grew up in Houston and graduated from The University of Texas School of Dentistry in 2015. Katie is a general dentist in a large group practice in Katy, Texas (a quick 25 minute commute from Houston). When she’s not working or staying involved with the Greater Houston Dental Society and the Texas Dental Association, she’s usually posting pictures of her miniature Australian shepherd puppy or her CrossFit workouts.