It’s a confidence thing, according to Bryan Goodman, who is in his last year of dentistry school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and it’s what excites him the most about becoming a dentist.
“When patients are in my chair, I joke a lot with them, and that interaction is important to me, but also it’s getting them to a point of being confident in themselves and in their smile,” Goodman said. “I get a lot of confidence from my patients’ smiles, and I enjoy seeing people smile, and a lot of times, when patients come to us, they don’t smile at all.”
A Nashville native and Duke University alumnus, Goodman’s path to the UTHSC College of Dentistry did not begin immediately after graduation. Double majoring in political science and psychology, he did not decide to attend dentistry school until his junior year. This meant doing a post baccalaureate at Middle Tennessee State University to receive all the prerequisites needed to apply.
He says the experience helped him stand out among applicants, and his major has helped him in the clinics when interacting with patients. “When they’re coming to us in the clinics, a lot of the time, it’s their first introduction back to having regular dental care,” Goodman said. “So it’s important to just make those patients as comfortable as possible, so that they can continue to come back and we can provide comprehensive care.”
Although Goodman did not grow up in a family of dentists or doctors, he was always around them, because both of his parents were administrators at Meharry Medical College. Ultimately, he chose UTHSC because of the scholarships and clinical opportunities available to students.
“Having kept up with my friends at other dental schools and hearing about their experiences, I know for a fact that I am at a significant advantage being trained at UTHSC,” he said. “Particularly in the dental school, they really make strong strides to make sure we are self-assured, competent and confident practitioners, and that is what makes the financial investment worth it.”
After graduation, he plans to attend a General Practice Residency program, but he expects to make the most of the few months he has left at UTHSC. He is now the president of the Student National Dental Association, after serving as vice president during his second and third year of dental school. He wants to use this leadership role as a platform to show minority students, particularly those still in high school, they can get here, too.
“With people of color, a lot of the time, they may have an interest in health care, and if they don’t see someone like them who is already in that position, it’s really hard to get a plan together to get to that next step,” Goodman said.
In the spring, he plans to bring back the Impressions Program. The minority recruitment program encourages pre-dental students through interaction with dental students in workshops, clinics, and labs.
“I want to focus on high school students so they know this is a career that is very fulfilling, it’s a career you can enjoy, and it’s a career you can succeed in,” Goodman said. “Dentistry checked all of the boxes for how I saw my future. After researching the field, speaking with several dentists and now wrapping up my second year in clinic, I know with complete certainty that I will lead an enjoyable and fulfilling career.”
Note: This story is from the most recent issue of Dentistry magazine.