Women’s History Month
Everyone can think of a female who has impacted their lives in some capacity. Whether it was your mother, an aunt that took you under her wing, a teacher who never gave up on you, a nurse who mended your wounds, a professor that took a special interest in your future or the female boss that saw your potential and mentored you.
At Westrock Orthodontics we are thrilled to have 8 female Orthodontics on staff. Many of these women have shaped the lives of their patients and continue to impact future generations. During the month of March, Women’s History Month, we want to take a moment to celebrate the women who are continuing to shape their communities. We sat down with each of our female orthodontists and asked them a few questions about their journey as a female provider.
Dr. Courtney Atkinson’s decision to become an orthodontist was largely influenced by her brother. “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 decided to give up her position at medical school and become an orthodontist. She loved that she’d be able to see her patients throughout the course of their treatment and continue to build a long-lasting relationship with them.
Dr. Brittany Curry says being a woman and a mother definitely enables her to be more empathetic towards patients and parents. “I feel as though being a woman makes it easier for patients/parents to connect with me and express their concerns or thoughts without feeling intimidated.”She originally didn’t know much about orthodontics when she was accepted into dental school. During her second year, she said she thought she wanted to go into prosthodontics. It wasn’t until her third and fourth years that she decided she wanted to go the ortho route. Although dental students don’t get much experience with orthodontics during dental school, Dr. Curry fell in love with the specialty after shadowing an orthodontist in her hometown.
While Dr. Andrea Baumann denied that being a woman was a handicap in the work world as a young lady “as I’ve matured I’ve seen more and realize that women still suffer by being treated less equitably then men. Fortunately, I was completely gender blind when I was making career decisions and for much of my early adult life.” Dr. Baumann was driven to become an orthodontist initially from a large desire to help others in a substantive and direct way regarding their personal appearance. She said that “not thinking I had a particularly exceptional appearance but wanting that and seeing how the girls with good looks got all the attention sharpened my appreciation for how important it was for the rest of us to be the best version of ourselves.” She 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 help create a beautiful esthetic so that people do get noticed.”
Dr. Amy Schulte talks about the effects of being a female orthodontist, “Women are way more prevalent in dentistry and medicine now compared to when I was a kid. Being a woman does affect my team dynamic. I think we are more like a sisterhood than a traditional doctor/staff arrangement! My husband is also an orthodontist, so there is a lot of ‘shop talk’ that goes on at home!” Dr. Amy Schulte practiced general dentistry for three years and learned some limited orthodontics during that time. “Orthodontics is generally elective, and I loved that my ortho patients were happy and not fearful when they came for their adjustments. I discovered that orthodontics was my calling but knew that I needed to become an orthodontic specialist so that I could treat more complex braces and Invisalign cases. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to specialize in orthodontics because I know that we truly change lives when we transform smiles!”
Dr. Mary Stanley knew she wanted to work in healthcare and take care of people and found dentistry interesting. She Ioved her childhood orthodontist and had a very positive experience and knew she wanted to be able to provide that for people. “Being an orthodontist helps improve people’s self-confidence and in turn makes them happy, I enjoy that part the most.”
Dr. Katie Guelos Gibson says “practicing orthodontics as a woman comes with its set of unique challenges and advantages. It can sometimes take time to gain the trust and confidence of patients who are accustomed to seeing men in this role. However, the advantages far outweigh the challenges. I find that I am able to build relationships and encourage open discussions between myself and patients and parents so that we can achieve their goals in treatment. I am able to ease fears and anxiety regarding dental/orthodontic visits by spending more time with patients and providing a comfortable patient experience.” 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. “I hope that when young girls see me working as an orthodontist they know that they can achieve any goals they set for themselves if they are willing to put in the work!” Dr. Gibson knew she wanted to become an orthodontist after her own experience in braces. “I always loved going to the office for my appointments because of the atmosphere created by the orthodontist and the staff. My smile transformed drastically, and it really kind of changed my life as a teenager. I knew that I wanted to help other people get the smile they have always wanted and the self-confidence that comes along with it.”
For Dr. AnnaKate Tatum being a woman and being a mother influences the way she practices orthodontics. “Every patient in the chair, I think ‘if this were my child, what would I do?’ It helps me to deliver superior treatment with the care and professionalism I want for my kids.” Dr. Tatum became an orthodontist because she wanted to help people. “I knew I wanted to be in healthcare but didn’t want to be a medical doctor. When I became a dentist, I realized that that wasn’t for me either. I have a very weak stomach. So I worked very hard and was in the top 10% of my dental class and was accepted to an orthodontic residency. This was truly my calling. Helping people smile is the best job in the world.”
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. She became interested in orthodontics when she had braces as a kid. “I loved going to the orthodontist and thought it would be an awesome job. I shadowed some dentists in high school and college and decided to apply to dental school. When I first began dental school I was open to practicing general dentistry or another specialty but found I was always drawn to orthodontics. I loved seeing the transformations and knew that this was what I was meant to do.”