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Those in Need Inspire Dental Student

Mary Regan
University of Iowa
1st Year Dentistry Student

Mary Regan comes from a long line of dentists, but it wasn’t until an internship and job shadow experience that she really decided to blend her love of science and health care into a career as a dentist as well.

In summer 2010, Mary served as a volunteer clinical intern with SmileHealthy, a Champaign-based non-profit that provides education and dental care to underserved populations in Champaign County. While there, she worked in various dental clinics weekly, assisting the hygienists and dentists by sterilizing equipment and instruments and other tasks to help the clinic run smoothly. She also helped to develop the Family Nutrition and Dental Referral Program at Provena Covenant Medical Center. The experience opened her eyes to the enormous need for dental care and education among the underserved.

Today, Mary is a 1st year dental student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. School is her life and her days are filled with classes, lectures, and hands-on labs. The students are considered full time students, and Mary and her colleagues are already taking cadaver labs with full dissection, biochemistry and anatomy courses, operative labs using mannequins and making dentures, dental cariology lectures, and shadowing 4th year dental students. 

“A job simply isn’t possible with the workload I have,” says Mary. “The Christie Foundation scholarship has been a blessing, allowing me to focus on my studies and my love for dentistry.”

Dentists are often the first to pick up on other problems in patients, as many issues, such as diabetes, infections, and oral and skin cancers often present subtle symptoms in or near the mouth. This is a part of the attraction of the job for Mary – being able to not just treat dental conditions, but to really use her career to help others as a whole.

“As a dentist, I really want to use my skills to help those who need it most,” she comments. “I want to help people get the knowledge they need to stay healthy.”