A Ministry Found In Dentistry
This semester, the Medical Humanities department created a unique opportunity for me to shadow local general dentist and MH lecturer, Dr. Terry Lassiter. I was fortunate to spend multiple hours each week in his office, which translated into course credit as an independent study. With no current class for Pre-Dental students comparable to MH 4351: Supervised Clinical Medicine, Dr. Hoy and Dr. Lassiter’s creation of this course is a perfect example of how the MH department is willing to work with their students and to set them up for success. The consistent time spent with Dr. Lassiter and his team was invaluable. I am leaving Alpha Omega Dental with a concrete assurance in pursuing a future in dentistry and grateful for the ways in which Dr. Lassiter modeled many of the personal, professional, and spiritual ambitions I dream to achieve one day.
While at Alpha Omega Dental I witnessed various dental procedures like crowns, extractions, fillings, root canals, and more. I was thankful to refer to these experiences during my dental school interviews, yet the value of frequently observing such practices was especially evident when I sat in a lab with current D2 students during one of my dental school tours. While in this lab, the students were learning about specific techniques for crown preps and the lab instructor specifically mentioned one with which I was already readily familiar because of my time shadowing Dr. Lassiter! In addition to giving me real life exposure to dental cases, Dr. Lassiter also showed me how to go above and beyond dental care in the way of treating patients. I distinctly remember one morning, a patient had come into the office heavy-hearted because his good friend’s wife had suffered a brain aneurysm the day before. Dr. Lassiter and his staff were so quick to pray over this patient that it sent a profound reminder to me of how dentistry is a waystation for meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of others. Such an integration of dentistry and ministry is why I believe medicine needs humanities. Due to Dr. Lassiter’s leadership, the entire office at Alpha Omega Dental operates from a desire for the holistic wellbeing of their patients. Truthfully, I believe this culture is built in their start-of-the-day team meetings in which Dr. Lassiter reminds his staff that all patients are created in the image of God and thus equally deserving of Alpha Omega’s time, attention, and care.
My time at Alpha Omega Dental made it evident that professional and evangelical success within healthcare is achieved through proper stewardship of relationships. Witnessing firsthand the exceptional chairside comfort and attention accompanying Dr. Lassiter’s dental practice offered a real-world example of the intersection of medicine and humanities. Alpha Omega showed me that high quality dentistry is a powerful avenue which can be utilized for showing care for the physical and spiritual needs of others: patients and employees alike. I am beyond thankful for all the lessons I learned in my time at Alpha Omega Dental and even more grateful for the Medical Humanities department for accommodating me with such a special privilege this semester.