• April 30, 2018
UIC College of Dentistry Alumni

Joe Powers is President of the Class of 2018. With graduation approaching, Joe looked back on his time at the UIC College of Dentistry, and discussed his plans for the future.

Joe found patient care to be the best part of his education.

“The UIC College of Dentistry provides such an amazing service to populations in the Chicagoland area, and I found my work in clinic to be very meaningful and fulfilling,” he said.

Along with his fellow classmates, Joe provided oral healthcare to underserved patients in the College’s clinics, at external community-based sites, and in the student-run clinic at Goldie’s place.

“Through all of these experiences my eyes have been opened to the oral health disparities that exist and to all of the barriers that stand in the way of achieving a healthy smile,” Joe said. “The fact that we sometimes see those patients who maybe haven’t been to the dentist in decades, due to the fact that they couldn’t afford it, makes the work done here so rewarding.”

And fun, according to Joe.

“I’ve had countless grandmothers try to set me up with their grandkids, patients pull little pranks on me—I can be very gullible—and experienced many interesting scenarios as I learned to navigate patient management,” he said.

The best part of patient care for Joe was the external rotations to community dental clinics.

“Through these rotations, students are able to experience working in an office with dentists, hygienists, assistants, staff, and the clinic’s patient base,” he explained, noting that the students “see way more patients” than on a typical day in the College. “I’ve developed more as a dental provider, gained speed in completing procedures, and feel way more comfortable and ready to join a practice once I graduate, “ Joe said.

Not all dental schools have a strong research component, but UIC’s does, and Joe performed research in the College’s Brodie Laboratory until his D-3 year. “This experience provided me with a greater appreciation for the evidence-based approach to dentistry,” Joe explained. “I will definitely incorporate the ability to look into literature and research into my practice and to continually learn as I progress in my career.

“I really appreciate the fact that UIC encourages students to do research, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the lab,” Joe said. “However, I’m also okay with the fact that I’ll never prepare an in-situ hybridization tissue slide again.”

After graduation, Joe has plans to join a private practice in Orland Park, IL.

“I absolutely love general dentistry, and the ability to form a long-term relationship with many patients while continually learning dentistry’s new advances is very exciting to me,” he said.

 The College instills a spirit of public service in its students, and Joe said, “I hope to continue working in the public health sector to some degree as well. I have completed Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center training and hope to work in underserved HIV-positive population care to some capacity in the future.”

As his student career winds down, Joe said, “We can all look back at the stresses that it provided, the nightmares about boards, or the countless sleepless nights and have the feeling, ‘wow, that was horrible.’ However, in reality, all of those stresses were so worth it, and UIC does such an incredible job at ensuring that we leave competent and able to provide quality care to patients.”

Joe understands that the quality of the College of Dentistry is tops in a variety of areas.

“The educators within the College of Dentistry are truly extraordinary,” he noted. “From professors staying extra hours to help in pre-clinical to mazing managing partners who assured our clinical success, I can honestly say that I feel like everyone I have learned from in the College has my best interest in mind. I am very thankful for learning from all of these people and having their mentorship throughout the past four years.”

He noted that the College “also does an incredible job at staying current and teaching students, having us complete clinical requirements in ever-advancing fields such as implants and CAD/CAM.

“The College of Dentistry provides an amazing service to the community, allowing so many to receive the care they need,” he explained. “Equally, it provides an incredible educational opportunity to students.”

For these reasons, Joe said, private giving to the College “is very important. “We have to make sure that the College remains, both to benefit our neighbors who need dental care, and to ensure that the school continues to function in producing amazing new dentists.

“To me, dentistry is one of those things that you have to have a passion for,” he concluded. “By donating, you’re ensuring that the future dentists will be able to explore, develop, and succeed in that same passion.”

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