Chapter Four: Meet Our Newest Alumni
We’ve been following four aspiring dentists (and their classmates), who embarked on their “dental journey” at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry four years ago — a journey they all admit seems to have gone by in a flash. Much has happened during their dental school careers — the usual life milestones such as a marriage for one and a baby for another, and the milestones unique to future dentists, such as first restorations and first tooth extractions.
With diplomas and periodontal probes in hand, these young dentists discuss what’s next and what they will miss most about the past four years.
Nicole (Goettemoeller) Gettings, ’17 DDS
Nicole Gettings started dental school with a passion for community service, and she hasn’t lost sight of that passion. In fact, community was an important part of her decision to launch her dental career with Premier Dental of Ohio, a practice where she’ll work in multiple locations. Dr. Gettings is particularly excited about working in Lancaster, Ohio, because her husband is a high school math teacher there.
Nicole Gettings started dental school as Nicole Goettemoeller, but changed her name when she married her college sweetheart in the summer of 2016. She and her husband met doing volunteer service as undergraduate seniors at the University of Dayton. Service to others is a commitment they share.
“I love Columbus, but I want to focus my career in a smaller city or town. My husband and I like the idea of getting involved in, and being part of, a tight-knit community,” Dr. Gettings said. Being part of a tight-knit community is also what she will miss most about dental school.
“It’s been such a challenging road, but also wonderful and even funny at times because the rest of my class has been there right along with me. We’ve done everything together for the last four years.”
Besides graduating, Dr. Gettings had one other goal she wanted to accomplish. She wanted to run the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Half Marathon — and she did, along with the Indy Half Marathon.
From the start of dental school, Dr. Gettings planned to become a general dentist. She said she’d consider going back to school for a specialty, but, right now, practicing as a general dentist and immediately making an impact in her community is exciting enough. She admits to nervousness mixed with excitement as her future beckons, but she’s learned to savor each moment, even the scary and the difficult ones, because time flies.
Chris Rhees, ’17 DDS
Before starting dental school, Chris Rhees considered staying in Ohio to practice after graduation, but his plans have changed. The U.S. Air Force will be one Buckeye stronger when Dr. Rhees begins a one-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just east of Dayton, Ohio. With a grandfather who was a pilot in the Air Force, Dr. Rhees is keeping the family military tradition alive. After completing the AEGD, Dr. Rhees will serve as an Air Force dentist for three years. Katie, his wife, is as excited as he is to embark on this next phase of their lives.
“We really want to go overseas, especially while the kids are young,” Dr. Rhees said. “We want to experience a new part of the world.” One of their children, 2-year-old Brayden, was born while Dr. Rhees was in school, making dental school a busy time for the family.
“Having a family to go home to at the end of the day was a motivator for me to study hard,” Dr. Rhees said. “Katie was my support system. She handled everything that wasn’t school. I’m grateful to have her.”
Although he’s relieved to be finished with dental school, Dr. Rhees said he will miss his friends and classmates. “It’s never been easy, but I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been with such a great class, and we did it together.”
The Air Force has laid claim to the next four years of Dr. Rhees’ life, but he’s not sure what will come after, and he’s okay with that. “Maybe we’ll come back to Ohio. Maybe we’ll go to Idaho (where he went to college). Maybe we’ll stay in the military. Time will tell.”
Hamza Dodo, ’17 DDS
Hamza Dodo has had his eye on the “prize”— his DDS degree — since he was 10 years old. It’s a dream finally realized as Dr. Dodo moves on to the next phase of his career: a general practice residency (GPR) at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. When he started dental school, Dr. Dodo was considering a residency, and now that he’s found a program, he feels good about his decision.
“One of my favorite professors told me how beneficial a GPR was for him at the beginning of his career, and he suggested I start there,” Dr. Dodo said.
Looking back on his dental school journey gives him perspective. “It’s difficult to keep in mind as you’re focusing on passing classes that you’re slowly gaining the tools to care for people’s health. The change is slow and subtle, but, as time goes on, I find myself gaining greater perspective on how to take care of my patients.”
Caring for patients was a highlight of Dr. Dodo’s experience, as he enjoyed their unique perspectives and life stories. Another highlight? The support of his fellow dental students. “Some of the best parts of my experience were getting to know the people who make up the Postle Hall community,” he said. “Coordinating the care of someone’s oral health can be stressful, so it felt really good to have familiar faces in the building to make me laugh when ordering a radiograph or scheduling a patient.”
He also offered advice for the incoming class of students: “Keep your end goal in mind. And work your butt off!”
Jordan Mayberry, ’17 DDS
As a third-generation Ohio State dental school student, Jordan Mayberry had an idea of what to expect from the experience, and it lived up to his expectations. “I knew it was going to be a lot of work,” he said. “But it was great being with a solid core unit of classmates. We were all one big group, helping each other get to our end goal.”
He was delighted to find how much room for creativity there is in dentistry. “I was surprised to learn that there are multiple approaches in dentistry. Rather than a strict set of guidelines, it’s more like a set of researched-based and ethical principles, and there’s room to find your own style.”
With graduation behind him, Dr. Mayberry will begin a one-year general practice residency (GPR) with Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. He chose GPR to gain experience and professional perspectives, as well as to learn surgical procedures. He didn’t anticipate taking this route when he started, but his clinical experience at Ohio State inspired him to continue learning.
After concluding his residency, Dr. Mayberry plans to enter private practice, although he’s not sure where. “I could move back to my hometown (Barnesville, Ohio) where my dad’s practice is, or go somewhere new. I don’t know — it’s up in the air right now.”
What he does know is that treating patients is as rewarding as he’d hoped. “Seeing patients’ reactions after I help them gives me a sense of accomplishment. They’re putting their health in my hands, and I can give them options. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”