Career Path Interview: Geebellue Mensah, DDS
Geebellue Mensah, DDS
Dentists of Brighton
On the surface, the dental profession does not seem like it would offer a variety of career paths but in reality, there’s much more than just what’s on the surface. Recently the team at the Articulator sat down and discussed the diversity the profession has to offer. From private practice and DSO to academics and public health, even entrepreneurship and innovation, there are countless options for dental school graduates or career dentists looking to make a change and find their passion within the industry. But don’t just take our word, we sat down with seven dentists from different journeys in the industry to learn about how they found their way within the profession. Despite their differences, at the heart of the interviews were two common denominators: the importance of not settling until you find a position that truly makes you happy and taking time away to reset whether through education, family, exercise or a hobby. Hear more from Dr. Amisha Singh, Dr. Geebellue Mensah, Dr. Nicole Furuta, Dr. Arthur Yagudayev, Dr. Amy Rosinsky, Dr. Jack Nguyen and Dr. Brett Kessler in the pages to come.
What drew you to the dental profession?
Dentistry wasn’t always the avenue I thought I would go down. My father is an OBGYN and my mother is an RN and I felt pulled to follow in their footsteps. What solidified dentistry for me was when I did my first shadow day at a local dental office in Columbus, OH. Dr. Lowery was such a gracious provider, not only in his hand skills but also in how he interacted with his patients. Something about being able to connect with his patients and always provide them the care they needed spoke to me. Ever since that day, I have always felt a connection with the dental profession and fortunately, that passion continues to grow every day.
Upon graduation from dental school, you intentionally sought out mentors. Can you tell us a little about that experience and how it has helped you in your dental career?
Like every D4 dental student, I was stressed about finding the right office for me. I ended up doing 10+ interviews in Denver before I found the office that best fit my goals. Mentorship comes in many different forms, but I wanted to make sure I found providers who knew how to communicate all the esoteric dental jargon I learned into understandable and concise language the average patient could understand and absorb. I also sought out a practice with procedures I wanted to become more proficient in including oral surgery, implant placement and same-day crowns. Mentorship in these areas was most important to me but for others, it may look different. Every office wants to serve its patients but not every office does so the same way. I think finding the office and opportunity that best fits each dentist is the most important thing to being successful.
What drew you to the dental service organization practice model?
A quote that always sticks with me is from a mentor I had before I started my dental journey. “Dental school teaches you enough to treat patients but not enough to give your patients the best dentistry possible.” This has always stuck with me, and I felt it was true to a degree. I knew I could do the work but not handle everything that came through my door. As a result, I looked for an environment that allowed my patients to get the best care, even if it wasn’t always by me. Being able to interact and practice with great clinicians, and specialists allowed me to bridge the gap and I continued to learn and hone my skills while referring to in-house practitioners that had the experience and skills I continue to gain.
You have been interested in moving toward ownership within Pacific Dental Services. Can you tell readers anything about the process?
Lessons learned thus far? After interviewing at other offices and those within Pacific Dental Services (PDS), I felt that PDS was the most transparent about what they were able to offer me as an Associate Dentist (AD) and a Future Practice Owner. This includes what equipment is standard in every office but also what equipment you can add based on procedures you do. PDS also facilitates classes for ADs that are interested in ownership on what it takes to be an owner. These classes go over office metrics, budgets, profit and loss statements and all things on the business side of dentistry. This includes the financial responsibilities it takes to have a productive dental office, specifically what you need to be able to produce to pay your personal bills and bring the office into the green which greatly increases your financial freedom.
What advice would you give someone looking for a mentor?
Regardless of if you’re an established dentist or a new graduate, look for a mentor who is the type of dentist you want to be. This doesn’t just mean clinically but on a personal level as well. Dentistry is as much about your clinical skills as it is about your people skills. I found mentors who did care about their patients. I think most people would agree with that but don’t take it for granted because if the things your mentor says don’t ring true to you, patients will know that as well.
What is one of the biggest challenges new dentists face upon graduating from dental school? How do you think dental associations like the ADA can help solve these?
I think the biggest challenge for new dentists is the psychology of dentistry. In school, we learn the facts, indications and statistics but not always how to convey all the information in layman’s terms the average patient understands. Patients did not go to school for four years to learn what we did, but they do care about their health and meeting patients where they are at is one of the most important things to being a successful clinician. Organizations like the ADA, offer so many resources to continue our education outside of school. I think for new dentists it’s important to explore these resources to continue their learning and knowledge of people along with dentistry.
What advice would you give dental students or new grads trying to decide on a career?
Try not to compare your career path and opportunities to others. I remember wanting to come out of school and go straight to work while some of my friends and colleagues went to AEGs, GPRs and specialty schools. It made me rethink my path and wonder if I was doing the right thing but what was right for me might not be right for those colleagues and vice versa. Follow your passions because if you pursue what you’re passionate about you will dive into it fully.