The Dental Geek is Army Strong!
These past two weeks, our friends over at the U.S. Army have been showcasing members of the Dental Corp on their blog Army Strong Stories. The Dental Geek had the opportunity to chat with U.S Army Dental Corps Lieutenant Colonel Kendall Mower about his experience practicing dentistry in the Army. Check out his personal story below and help us honor the men and women who not only serve our country but our mouths!
Dental Geek: What inspired you to pursue a career in the U.S. Army Dental Corps?
LTC MOWER: Prior to dental school I had joined the National Guard to help pay for undergrad. As I was applying for dental school I found out about the Army’s Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) and decided to let them pay for my education. Having already spent several years in the National Guard I understood the Army and that helped to make the decision easier.
Dental Geek: How do the day-to-day responsibilities of an Army Dentist differ from a civilian dentist?
LTC MOWER: In a typical day we treat one patient an hour. We work M-F from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. We also pull occasional after hours emergency call; the frequency is determined by how many other dentists are in the area with you. I get paid the same salary regardless of the types of procedures I do, so I don’t have to try to sell any treatment plans. I do have other types of “Army training” that I have to do periodically, as well as a requirement to maintain a certain level of fitness.
Dental Geek: What do you enjoy most about your service in the U.S. Army Dental Corps?
LTC MOWER: I like the opportunity to have two occupations as both an Officer and a dentist. I get to work with some phenomenal Soldiers all over the world.
Dental Geek: Being a part of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, we can imagine that the opportunity to travel to dental facilities abroad occurs often. Have you had the chance to serve in different parts of the world? If so, where, and can you explain your experience?
LTC MOWER: Since joining the Army Dental Corps I have had a chance to live in Hawaii for 2 years where I did my residency training. I have also lived near Richmond, Va., for 4 years and Washington, D.C., for 6 years. During that time I also spent 6 months in Tikrit, Iraq.
In the military one can expect to move around every 3-4 years. I have enjoyed this opportunity because it has given my family the chance to experience parts of the country that we never would have if I had been in private practice.
Some of the jobs I have had while in the military have allowed me to travel for brief trips to Korea, New York, Chicago, Orlando, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Kentucky, California and New Jersey.
Dental Geek: What is it that you find most interesting about the dental field?
LTC MOWER: I enjoy the ability to improve an individual’s well-being and health. I enjoy the diversity within dentistry and the ability to pursue those interests through additional education and training.
Dental Geek: What advice/information would you offer to someone looking to enter the dental field or pursue a career in the U.S. Army?
LTC MOWER: Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. These can only open doors for you in the future. And keep an open mind – having your mind made up can cause you to miss out on options that you may not have considered that can be equally satisfying.
Dental Geek: What types of dental procedures do you get to practice in the Army?
LTC MOWER: This will vary by location and by who your boss is. Some Army activations have a lot of new recruits. Those locations will do a lot of Oral Surgery, Endo and Restorative. Other locations have Soldiers who are more stable and those locations will do Oral Surgery, Prosthetic and Restorative. The types of procedures you will do also depends on what other specialists are located where you are as well as the level of post-graduate education you have had.
Dental Geek: What dental specialties are offered in the Army?
LTC MOWER: Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (4 year program), Pediatrics, Orthodontics, Endodontics, Prosthodontics, Periodontics, Public Health, Comprehensive Dentist (completion of a 2-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry). All specialty programs in the military are accredited by the American Dental Association.
Dental Geek: What types of military training did you have to do in addition to your dental training?
LTC MOWER: All dental officers complete Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) either during or after dental school. After that, there are other levels of military training that can occur if the individual decides they want to stay in past their initial 3 or 4 year obligation. Additionally, all dental officers have to take fitness tests annually and maintain certain weight standards throughout their career. Throughout the year other types of training occur such as infection control, HAZCOM, patient safety, suicide prevention training, resiliency training, ethics, etc. These are typically done online or in group settings periodically.
Dental Geek: Who can I contact for more information on the U.S. Army Dental Corps?
LTC MOWER: Healthcare recruiters are located throughout the United States. To find the nearest recruiter go to www.goarmy.com. Under the section to contact a recruiter, select the “Medical (AMEDD)” drop down and enter your ZIP code. There are other sites you can check out too… Army Strong Stories [http://armystrongstories.com/], the Army’s premier soldier blog is a great source for information from soldiers in the U.S. Army’s Dental Corps.
Lieutenant Colonel Kendall Mower is a comprehensive dentist in the U.S. Army Dental Corps, currently based in Ft. Myer, VA. LTC Mower is a frequent contributor to Army Strong Stories with his blogs about soldier life and his career in the U.S. Army Dental Corps. More from LTC Mower on Army Strong Stories [http://armystrongstories.com/profile/kendall-mower].