“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.
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.