The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

I am MDDS: Susan Somerset, DMD, Pharm D, MS

Susan Somerset, DMD, Pharm D, MS
University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine

You are a first-generation college graduate—what influenced your decision to pursue multiple advanced degrees?
My parents. I always had a desire to pursue a professional degree in healthcare. My mother suggested an undergraduate degree in pharmacy because it is usually one of the most challenging classes in healthcare education. She also figured I would be able to work while pursuing other degrees. It was great advice. My pharmacy education really taught me how to adjust for and to be comfortable managing medications in unconventional situations.

What drew you to the dental profession after working as a pharmacist?
I wanted to work more directly with patients and be able to make a more immediate impact on their needs. I also had the long-term goal of making pharmacology less daunting for the dental profession.

How does your background in pharmacy affect your practice of dentistry?
Working as a pharmacist in a hospital setting gave me the perspective of being able to flex when it comes to medication management. As a hospital pharmacist, you are called upon to help manage situations where the first few conventional options are not working. You need to be creative with medication management and various administration techniques to help the patients and your fellow colleagues. As a pharmacist, I was exposed to a wide variety of medical conditions and treatments that helped me to be more comfortable managing patients with complex medical histories.

What drew you to academia after working in public health and private practice?
I have always loved the academic environment. Working with students is so much fun. I worked in teaching hospitals and found it to be a wonderful learning opportunity. I really like being able to combine my experience working in hospitals and in the pharmaceutical industry to help dental students become more comfortable working in an interdisciplinary environment and communicating with medical colleagues.

What advice would you give fellow dentists looking to change career paths within dentistry?
If there is a person already doing what you hope to do, reach out to them. I saw Dr. Harold Crossley when he spoke in Delaware and reached out to him when he was speaking in Denver. He is a great resource and gave me an opportunity to speak during his presentation in Denver. He also provided sound and practical advice: “Seek
out those who are genuinely interested in helping you reach your goals; they will be your best advocates. If you do not find them, keep looking because these individuals are out there and want to help! It can be daunting, so do not be daunted.”

You spoke at the 2024 Rocky Mountain Dental Convention (RMDC) – what tips or advice would you give someone interested in speaking at a study club or local or national meetings?
I would start by developing a topic(s) that interests you and with which you are comfortable speaking. Reach out to local study groups, residency programs or other local meetings and ask to speak at an upcoming meeting event. The RMDC has an Emerging Speaker Series for those wanting to begin speaking. I would also recommend reaching out to other state dental associations and submitting a course description form. I have found many event organizers are looking for different speakers and are willing to speak with you.

The Articulate Dentist is a blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society, providing members with insight into the dental industry, practice management tips, tech trends and best practices as well as Society news and updates.