To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are shining a spotlight on the wonderful women at Rock Dental Brands. The Rock Dental Brands team is made up of many wonderful female dental professionals striving to serve their patients with the best care possible. This includes women from families of dental professionals and others that are among the first in their family to pursue higher education. Some of the dentists and orthodontists on the RDB team knew they wanted to be dentists at 10 years old, while others found dentistry after a career in a different field. One of our providers even moved across the world and received a second dental degree to pursue her dream of practicing dentistry in America. Every woman on the Rock Dental Brands team is inspiring in different ways. Their drive, professionalism, and passions are unmatched. Our female providers each overcame different obstacles to reach where they are today. One of those obstacles is the lack of representation.
In STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) industries, women are often overlooked. In 2019, women accounted for just 27% of employees in STEM industries, nearly double the number from 2010. In 1980, only 16% percent of dental students were women, up from 1% in 1968. Today, women make up over 40% of dental students. Female providers are paving the way for the younger generations in the dental industry. Change is possible as women continue to make a positive impact on STEM industries.
The female providers at Rock Dental Brands serve their patients, operate successful clinics, and work to impact their communities daily. We had the opportunity to talk with our female doctors to learn more about their careers and what advice they have for others interested in the field of dentistry.
Dr. Courtney Atkinson found her passion for orthodontics after her acceptance to medical school. “I had already been admitted to medical school, but at the same time, my brother was in dental school. He had me shadow him at his dental school and I fell in love with dentistry.” Dr. Atkinson says her parents, grandparents, and brother supported her throughout her journey to become an orthodontist. While my Mama and Papa did not have high school degrees, they understood the importance of education. They were always proud of every achievement I received and supportive of all the education I was undertaking. Finally, when I decided on a dental career, my brother was already in dental school. He immediately became my mentor and stayed my mentor for 12 years. Unfortunately, he passed away, but every day during those 12 years we spoke regarding some aspect of dentistry. Dr. Atkinson’s advice to others interested in dentistry is to find the specialties and people you enjoy. “When you are in dental school look at all the specialties to find the one that is your passion. Then, when you are in specialty school, find a few fellow residents you can keep in touch with once you graduate. They will be the core group that you can go to with questions throughout your career so you can grow in your discipline.”
Dr. Andrea Baumann became an orthodontist to help people through emotional pain. She says that “many people know they are exceptional but don’t get noticed and I love being able to help create a beautiful esthetic so that people do get noticed.” Dr. Baumann hopes other women will continue to pursue the field of dentistry. “Discover your strengths and the dream that comes from your heart. Follow that!”
Dr. Alice McCormick wants young women pursuing a dental career to be grateful for every step, even the challenges. “Have faith in your journey and don’t give up – everything, both obstacles and achievements, had to happen exactly as it did to get you where you are today and also where you will go in the future!” Dr. McCormick’s sisters helped her achieve her dream of becoming a dentist. “I am so thankful for them both and couldn’t imagine going through dental school without them.”
Dr. Emily Cheek believes young women entering dental school need to be resilient. “When pursuing the career of dentistry, know that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Take each day one day at a time and anyone can do it. Dentistry is a great career path for those who are interested in being their own boss and have a good work/life balance” Dr. Cheek’s mom also has a career in the healthcare field and encouraged her to find her passion in dentistry. “My mom always motivated me to stay diligent in school and pursue a career that can provide success, stability, and the ability to help others.”
Dr. Michelle Clinton is proud to be a female orthodontist and says it’s important to her to always treat her patients with kindness, patience, and empathy. Dr. Clinton’s advice for young women pursuing dentistry is to seek out a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask for help. ” Relationships are very important. It is a long road, but absolutely worth the effort!” Dr. Clinton said the quote she lives by is Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Dr. Brittany Curry would inspire younger generations with the word ‘kindness’. She feels that being a woman and a mother definitely enables her to be more empathetic towards patients and parents. Dr. Curry credits her family with where she is today. ” They have given me limitless support, guidance, and encouragement to achieve my goals.” Her advice for future dental students is to keep your end goal in sight. “Block out the noise from those that try to discourage you and work hard. You are smart enough, strong enough, and good enough to get there!”
Dr. Katie Gibson wants future dentists and orthodontists will continue to pursue their dreams. “Know that achieving your goals is going to take hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice. Continue to remain focused on your education and doing the right thing every day. I strongly believe that a good work-life balance is imperative to true success, so make sure to reward yourself for your hard work and celebrate every little victory along the way!” Dr. Gibson says that one of her favorite things about practicing orthodontics as a woman is when a young girl tells her that she wants to be a dentist or an orthodontist when they grow up.
Dr. Michelle Johnson wants young women to continue pursuing dentistry. “This is becoming a woman-dominated field. Study hard, make good grades, but stay involved in activities outside of school that will help you to be certain about your choices.” Dr. Johnson’s middle school teacher left a lasting impact on her life and helped her chase her dreams. “Mrs. Judy Graham Spencer encouraged me to work hard at schoolwork and to expect more from myself. She taught me that my efforts and outcomes were for me and my honor alone. This was a turning point for me in my life and set the stage to never settle for less than my very best.” Dr. Johnson tries to always live and serve her patients with integrity.
Dr. April McCain believes confidence is one of the most important qualities young women need. “A life lesson I try instilling into my daughter is to set goals. Every morning, start your day with at least 3 goals you want to accomplish that day while also focusing on long-term goals. Then carry yourself with confidence and work hard to achieve those goals.” Dr. McCain lives by the quote from Judy Garland, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else”.
Dr. Paula Noh told us her sister made the biggest impact on her path to become a dentist. “My sister (also Dr. Noh!) always believed in me. She wasn’t afraid to be tough with me and push me when I thought I wouldn’t make it through.” Dr. Noh believes shadowing is the best way for those considering dentistry to discover their passions. “Shadow, shadow, shadow! I would shadow all different specialties of dentistry and see if it sparks a passion for you.”
Dr. Rita Ribeiro believes self-esteem is the strongest factor for success. “Believing you can do it, believing you will do it, and believing you deserve it.” Dr. Ribeiro also hopes young women will find happiness in their dental careers. “As a young woman, I wanted to enter into a career that I love. I believe finding a passion and enjoying it within the dental field, balancing it with family life, will bring happiness and success.”
Dr. Amy Schulte wants women considering dentistry and orthodontics to feel confident to explore. “Do everything you can to find out about dentistry and orthodontics from a woman’s perspective. You can connect with women dentists and orthodontists on social media to see how they balance family with practice/business, and most will engage with you and reply to your messages.” Dr. Schulte’s mom supported her in her passion for orthodontics. “My mom supports me in every way imaginable. Even when I slip, she never lets me fall.”
Dr. Jessica Sliger lives by the Shakespeare quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce!” Dr. Sliger hopes younger generations will be fierce and have grit when it comes to their passions and goals. She believes dentistry is a perfect career for women. “The ratio of dentists is tipping more and more towards females. It’s a career that can make you feel empowered as a professional and give balance as a mother. Dentistry allows us to use our feminine talents in amazing ways: our small hands, our artistry, our compassion.” After her mother went back to school to begin a second career, Dr. Sliger knew she was brave enough to do the same.
Dr. AnnaKate Tatum often thinks of her grandmother while treating patients. “My grandmother used to say, ‘Do what’s right the first time. It makes things a lot easier.’ No matter what other factors there are, I do what’s best for the patient, and the rest works out in the end.” Dr. Tatum said her family helped her pursue orthodontics. “My parents instilled a work ethic in me that got me where I am today. Their constant support helped me achieve my dream of being an orthodontist. Treating families and watching children grow from children to young adults while giving them a beautiful healthy smile is the most rewarding work I can imagine.”
Dr. Volha Titov hopes younger generations will believe in themselves and their abilities and work hard to achieve their dreams. “Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to become the best in your field. Working hard and staying positive will help you to achieve your goals. Remember that to become a master at any skill, it takes the total effort of your heart, mind, and soul working together in tandem.” Dr. Titov’s parents instilled confidence and passion in her, and she hopes to do the same for her children and patients.
We are proud of all the female dentists, orthodontists, assistants, and support staff at Rock Dental Brands. They are passionate about caring for their patients and helping others pursue their goals in the dental field. We look forward to celebrating our female providers all month. Happy Women’s History Month from Rock Dental Brands!