Pathways to Dentistry: VA Hospital

By | September 5, 2017

When Dr. Sam Willens was in dental school, he imagined himself one day working in his own private practice office.

So these days, about seven years since graduation and six years since he got hired on full-time at a Veterans Affairs hospital dental clinic just outside Chicago, his main advice for other new dentists is “keep an open mind.”

Dr. Sam Willens

Dr. Sam Willens

Without keeping an open mind about his career, “I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to work here. Six years later I have no regrets with my decision to practice dentistry in a VA Medical Center. It is a huge honor to be able to provide oral health care to our nations veterans,” said Dr. Willens, a 2010 graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago.

At the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital Dental Clinic, Dr. Willens sees veterans of all ages and provides comprehensive dental care.

The VA setting is superb for patient care, he said, because there is communication between the dental and medical teams as well as access to an integrated electronic health record.

“This allows us to provide safe and ideal treatment to even the most complicated cases,” he said.

Dr. Willens completed a rotation at the VA hospital during his nal year of dental school. After graduating, he  ursued a general practice rotation at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, a program that was affliated with the VA hospital. A full-time position opened up there before he nished his residency, and a colleague encouraged him to apply.

After considering the satisfaction he felt working there, Dr. Willens said he asked himself, “Why wouldn’t I apply?”

In addition to treating patients, Dr. Willens in his current role supervises general practice residents, a part of his job that appeases his interest in dental education, he said.

But perhaps the best part of the job, he said, is the opportunity to meet so many veterans, learn their stories and thank them for their service. “I feel so much respect for what they’ve done and being able to help improve their oral health is my small way of giving back,” Dr. Willens said.

7 thoughts on “Pathways to Dentistry: VA Hospital

  1. Pingback: Pathways to Dentistry: VA Hospital - DENTAL COUNTRY

  2. Chandra Dental Clinic

    Hello ! Dr. Sam Willens sir,, I read your post and think about the content that makes me very postive regards topic. Its nice and informative post of dentistry . You discussed all better point in the paragraph.thanks nice working.

  3. Dentistry Henrico VA

    Very nice post! Thanks for sharing this information here. It is quite useful for people who are looking for some dental services which is quite common as now a days it has been a necessity. Keep posting more information like this. Thanks a lot!
    Dentistry Henrico VA

  4. Future Applicant

    Dr. Willens,
    How can I increase my chances of being accepted for a dentist position? I would really like to be part of the VA team!

    Thank you!

  5. Wayne Jones

    I am very thankful that Dr. Willens is with the V.A. I saw Dr. Willens and he was very direct and personable. He did a great job of putting me at ease and at the same time explaining my situation and the options that were available for treatment. I had been putting off this treatment for a very long time, but after talking with Dr. Willens and the Dental Service Team I was able to make the decision to move forward with treatment. Thanks again for the great care you provide!


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