For Stueart Hudsmith, DDS, being a dentist is about helping people.
“I really like interacting with people and I love fixing their problems, usually with some immediate care,” said Dr. Hudsmith, a 1995 graduate of the UTHSC College of Dentistry.
While Dr. Hudsmith’s passion for serving is now actualized in a variety of forms, it all started at UTHSC. The inspiration to become a dentist initially came from his stepfather, David Weaver, DDS, who also graduated from UTHSC.
“He gave the university very high marks, and when I visited for my interview, there was no question I wanted to be there,” Dr. Hudsmith said.
Dr. Hudsmith served as class president all four of his years in the College of Dentistry. During that time, he learned of community involvement and leadership opportunities through the dean, William Slagle, DDS, as well as what Dr. Hudsmith called “excellent clinical skills” that prepared him to practice dentistry in the real world with no apprehension.
In addition to having his own dental practice in Memphis, Dr. Hudsmith serves as the clinic director for the Mid-South Mission of Mercy, a clinic that opens once a year to treat underserved patients for free. In its five years of operation, the clinic has treated 11,400 patients.
“The clinic provides a great service for the people in our community who can’t seek dental care on a regular basis,” Dr. Hudsmith said. “It’s very important – especially when you see somebody who is very self-conscious because they can’t smile – to serve people in a way that provides them a good self-image.”
While it is a large operation with almost 1,500 yearly volunteers, the Mid-South Mission of Mercy has become a family affair. Dr. Hudsmith’s wife and all six of their children volunteer for it, including his youngest son, Foster, who is currently a fourth-year student in the UTHSC College of Dentistry.
“I’m excited to have (Foster) as a colleague in the future, because I know he’s going to do extremely well,” Dr. Hudsmith said. “I respect him as a person, even though he is my kid. He’s done very well academically, he’s great with people, he’s been involved in community and volunteer efforts – not just since he’s been in dental school, but throughout his whole life. He’s just a great person.”
Foster Hudsmith is following in his father’s footsteps, not only by attending the College of Dentistry, but also by being a leader in it. Through the American Student Dental Association, Foster and two other students led an initiative to give tours to incoming students who couldn’t visit the campus due to the COVID pandemic.
“We organized a day for them to come to the school and see what it’s like, because the whole process had been virtual,” he said. “It’s just our way to help them get their feet on the ground when they first come in instead of just showing up to a school they had never been in before.”
For Foster, being in dental school not only continues his family’s legacy, but it also gives him a deeper appreciation for his father and the profession of dentistry.
“I never truly understood how much people care about their teeth until recently, and that has made me realize how much of an impact my dad has had on people. Now that I’m having that same impact on people, it’s really something that you can’t put into words just how it makes you feel.”Foster Hudsmith
Students like Foster are why Dr. Hudsmith has stayed involved in the UTHSC community. He has been very active as a volunteer with the College of Dentistry Alumni Board, currently serving as chair of the Faculty and Academic Support Committee, and he and his wife, Pam, continue to be generous supporters of the university and included the college in their estate planning.
“UTHSC is a special place. While I earned my education, I built a lot of friendships and I built a lot of camaraderie,” Dr. Hudsmith said. “As a leader, you want to make sure the institution is always teaching and providing the best information for future students. My goal is to always provide a future for students that’s even better than the one that we had.”
This story was initially published in the Winter 2023 issue of Dentistry Magazine.