"Take one year of training at a time, if the commitment seems to be a challenge. Realize early that you are in charge of your own education."

Role Model Photo Jacqueline Plemons

Health Field: Dentist

Number of years in the profession:
21 year

Years in College: 9 years

Professional Credentials:
DDS, MS

How did you know this career was what you wanted to do?
I wanted to become a dentist since the age of seven after experiencing a wonderful visit to my mother's dentist. Of course, it was much later before I actually realized what a career in dentistry would involve. I knew I wanted to work in a field that involved providing care for patients. Dentistry appealed to me because it was interesting, involved life-long relationships with patients and provided a work environment that suggested time for both a professional and personal life.

What other careers did you consider?
Medicine

What experiences in your life developed your interest in your career?
At the age of 7, I went with my mother to a local dentist's office. He was very kind - took time to show me things in the operatory, let me touch the instruments and "ride" up and down in the dental chair. When I left his office, I believed that I wanted to grow up to be just like him. That belief stayed with me through childhood and led the way to my professional career. You never know when simple acts of kindness will have a great influence on the people you encounter each day.

What early preparations did you take (in high school and college) to reach your career goal?
I took all the usual college preparatory courses with a strong emphasis in the sciences. In college, I observed and volunteered in several general dentist offices to become more acquainted with the routine procedures performed in a dental office.

What things did you find to be difficult as you prepared for your career?
Finances were always a primary concern - I come from a very blue-collar family and neither of my patents attended college. I was hesitant to tell my parents that I wanted to specialize in Periodontics, but they remained supportive despite the additional two years of training.

How did you overcome these challenges?
I worked while attending school, was awarded a scholarship and tried to keep loans to a minimum.

Was your family supportive of you through your college (or other training) years?
Yes

Did you have a job and work while you were going to college or other training? Yes


Present Career as a Dentist


Describe an average work day for you.
My professional careers includes both private practice and teaching at our local dental school. I practice three days a week and teach two days a week. In practice, I see patients for examinations followed by appointments for periodontal or implant surgery. At the dental school, I teach Oral Medicine in the morning and Periodontics in the afternoon.

How many hours do you work in an average week?
40-50

What kind of health care setting do you work in?
I work in my own private practice and serve as a Professor at our local College of Dentistry.

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Heart for service, general caring personality, organized and hard-working, dedicated to life-long learning.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Making patients more healthy and happy.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Explore the different health-related fields and spend some time considering dentistry. Take one year of training at a time if the commitment seems to be a challenge. Get the most you can from all your training experiences and realize early that you are in charge of your own education.

If you could start over, would you still make the same decision to pursue education?
Yes, I honestly feel that dentistry was the correct choice for me. It has afforded a wonderful life for our family. I think I would do it all again, with a few better decisions along the way.

Do you plan to pursue opportunities for advancement in your career field?
No - I'm in the middle (or later) of my career and looking at ways to cut down a little. Of course, I will continue to attend continuing education courses, etc... and keep up with the ever-changing field of dentistry.

View Other Professionals in this Field
Valencia  | Solomon  | Plemons  | Nichols  |
Are you a current health professional?
Click here to share your experience and advice with us