In my journey to dentistry, it’s all about relationships

“It’s all about relationships” is a phrase I hear just about every day from my mentor.

And throughout my path to my new dentist life—from dental school and my involvement in organized dentistry to my current associateship—that phrase has been proven right.

Dr. Sowa and Dr. Ho

Dr. Sowa and Dr. Ho

First, some background: Four years and about forty wrinkles ago, I started my journey through dental school in my hometown of Houston, Texas. I was a bit of a nontraditional student in that I had a job in between undergrad and dental school. I started dental school looking for a fresh start in my professional career. That plan worked for about an hour until a classmate spread the word that I was a mascot at The University of Texas. I was then nicknamed “mascot” and never shed the reputation I expected to shy away from in my “new life.”

Flash-forward a few years and that very hidden secret of mine led to a conversation with a dentist that led to a great relationship. Dr. Duke Ho’s response to my somewhat embarrassing past was the same as usual: “You were Bevo???” Of course I corrected him with a lesson in UT history and explained the mascot name was actually Hook ‘Em. This surprising fact about my past sparked a great mentor-dental student relationship with Dr. Ho.

As a third year dental student, Dr. Ho was everything I could want in a mentor. On any given day, he would call to ask me how school was going and ended every conversation with “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.” Dr. Ho’s involvement with organized dentistry (He became the Greater Houston Dental Society president in May) also fell in line with my involvement in ASDA both on the local and national level. Throughout dental school, I served as ASDA chapter president, the first-ever national ASDA electronic editor and editor-in-chief.

In June, I started as the newest associate in Dr. Ho’s office in Katy, Texas. Every day, I get to pick the brains of Dr. Ho and the three other dentists in our office when something looks confusing on a radiograph. Every day, I get a lesson on how to build trust and communicate with our 13 hygienists and eight assistants. Every day, I also have a conversation about what’s affecting dentistry outside of the four walls of our office. Student debt, legislative issues in Texas, and how to keep dental students involved in the dental society are daily topics between Dr. Ho and I.

My new dentist life is built on relationships. Relationships with previous dental students led to a relationship with organized dentistry, which led to a relationship with Dr. Ho, which led to an associateship I’ve always dreamed of. In this associateship, that relationship building continues today. I have the opportunity to build relationships with a large managed care population in Katy, Texas, ranging from teachers to police officers to retired veterans. Above all, the doctor-patient relationship comes first in our practice.

I guess Dr. Ho is right. It really is all about relationships.

Dr. Katie Sowa is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. She grew up in Houston and recently 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.

8 comments

  • Loved the blog Katie!! So true! Relationships are everything!

  • All the very best for your future katie.

  • Some excellent points here. I think that every career has an element of this – but dentistry especially. How you are with your fellow dentists, with hygienists, with your clients – it’s all important to your future.

  • Good luck Katie – I’d say you have an excellent philosophy for the start of a promising career! Very nice article 🙂

  • Personal relationships are so important. Between you and the patients especially, but also between you and your peers around you. And this is true of every profession, not just dentistry. Heck, it’s true of LIFE. Build positive relationships and your life will flourish.

  • Good luck katie..Yes I agree with your true words relationship is every thing for a human.And they make his relation best for ever. All the very best for future katie. Very well writeup.

  • Hey Katie… Congrats for your dentistry. God bless u. In future u have to do your best. Keep it up.

  • It is a great point Katie, and I loved how you underlined the importance of relationships, human relationships, not only among Dentists, but with our patients and peers

    The technical part, the sciencie part is important, they are the foundations of dental practice, however, the patient´s experience in our offices is, in my opinion, more important than the previous one

    We must work with good technique and being based on the scientific evidence, the thing is, if the patient is afraid of us, there´s nothing we can do in order to help him/her

    The human approach is paramount, because we work with our patients, humans beings, not only teeth

    Best regards from Caracas, Venezuela

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