The summer has just started, kids & teachers have just finished with school, and already the doctors at Drews Dental Services are making waves!
Sharing My Story on Career Day
I was delighted to deliver a few presentations on dentistry at Tripp Middle School’s career day in Turner, which was actually my alma mater. It’s been a long time since I was sitting in the classroom at Tripp Middle School . . . 1996 was 22 years ago!
I was so excited to go back and talk to the students about dentistry because I remember being a young pre-teen sitting in those same chairs, wondering if I worked hard enough in school if I could be a doctor.
I was a straight-A student, heavily involved in extracurricular activities like softball and chorus, but I was nervous about being able to continue to hack it as I moved into high school, and if I would be able to afford to attend the colleges I wanted because my family was by no means wealthy.
One of the most influential speakers I heard in my young life was at my 6th grade graduation, in 1994. Back then I lived in Lewiston and attended Montello Elementary school. The mayor at the time, John Jenkins, gave us an incredibly motivational speech, and he utilized our school slogan “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” I never forgot that.
I’ve never had the opportunity to pay him back for the impact his words had on my young life, but I was able to pay if forward when I spoke with the current students of Tripp Middle School, and told them my story of how I became a dentist.
Becoming a dentist . . .
I was not like Hermie the Elf, knowing I didn’t like to make toys and wanting to become a dentist instead. I was actually terrified of the dentist and dentistry and avoided it like the plague.
I did, however, know that I did not want to work in any of the industries my family worked in, and wanted to do something radically different.
I wanted to be a pediatrician, and I was ecstatic when I was accepted at the College of the Holy Cross and became the first person in my family to attend a four year college. I majored in Religious Studies with a Pre-med concentration because Pre-Med gets you all the science courses you need to get ready for medical school.
As fate would have it, the summer after my sophomore year I developed a horrendous toothache! It hurt so badly that I finally bit the bullet and visited a local dental office, where Dr. Barbarick told me I needed a root canal or an extraction! For all of you who have heard this prognosis from myself or from Dr. Drews . . . I have LITERALLY felt your pain!
By the time you have an ache that doesn’t go away, the nerve is irreversibly damaged, and those are your only options . . . regular filling just won’t cut it.
Dr. Barbarick asked me what I was studying in school and I told him I was Pre-med, and that I wanted to be a pediatrician. Over the course of the next hour while I was getting the root canal started, I heard all about why dentistry would be a better career choice. I thought the idea was ridiculous, and I didn’t even know dentists were “real” doctors anyway. So I checked a book out of the Lewiston Public Library on dentistry so that I could intelligently explain to Dr. Barbarick precisely why I didn’t want to be a dentist, only to find out that dentistry was way more interesting than I had ever imagined.
It seemed there was a lot more guesswork in medicine, a whole lot of disease processes and symptoms that we simply can’t explain adequately (yet), let alone resolve while in dentistry there seemed to be more concrete, scientific explanations with specific remedies to make things better again. It really appealed to me that I could see a problem and play a direct role in fixing it.
Additionally, the more I read about dentistry, the less scared I was becoming. It seemed I now had a calling – to become a dentist so I could fix peoples’ problems and help them get over their fears by educating and reassuring them along the way.
Pre-med/Pre-dental are the same course of study, so I didn’t have to change what I was already doing at Holy Cross. My goal had now become to gain admittance at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, which had a fantastic reputation for national board exam scores and admittance into top residency programs. It also placed a heavy emphasis on medical education, with the first two years of the program being taught side by side with the medical students, a feature that greatly appealed to me with my previous interest in medicine.
Once again, I dreamed it and achieved it, graduating with honors from Holy Cross, and enrolling in UConn’s dental class of 2008. Speaking to young pre-teens who might be struggling to find their way in the world is my way of thanking all of those who helped me in my journey.
Dr. Drews Sharing His Story In Print
While I was busy sharing the story of the beginning of my career, Dr. Drews was enjoying a major milestone in his: a cover story in Dentaltown Magazine. If you’ve never heard of DentalTown, it’s probably because you’re not a dentist. There are also Hygienetown and Orthotown for, well, hygienists and orthodontists.
To give you some background, Howard Farran is a dentist/entrepreneur who created what is now a very well known online community of dentists to share information on how to treat patients as well as how to run a small business.
They have forums and message boards, offer continuing education articles and courses, podcasts, etc. and they also have a monthly print magazine for dentists.
The magazine runs a recurring series for townies (that’s what members of Dentaltown are called) that profiles noteworthy dentists so that other dentists can hear their stories and get a sense of how they run their practice.
And guess who was chosen to be interviewed and then featured in June’s issue?! None other than our very own 80’s wrestling fan turned engineer turned dentist. So Dr. Drews started his summer talking about how he got into dentistry, too.
Becoming a dentist . . .
Dr. Drews had a similar journey into dentistry, starting out in mechanical engineering with an eye to keeping his option to enter the medical field in mind. While we’ve had very different experiences leading us to become dentists, we both share a powerful passion for helping others, educating patients, and using technology to provide the best possible oral health services.
While the article speaks to other dentists, specifically, it also touches on his journey to becoming a dentist. Here are a few of our favorite questions and answers from his interview that explains how he ended up here in Lewiston:
Before dentistry, you studied mechanical engineering and worked in the automotive industry. Tell us about that.
It’s purely the result of a strong Type A personality and my mother. She is a practical-minded, now-retired high school math teacher who would remind me to always have a backup plan in case I changed my mind. (She knows me well.)
I’d originally wanted to go into the medical field, but when I explored the different programs at Michigan State University, I realized that engineering was the liberal arts degree of the 20th century. Engineering got bonus points because it provided me with all the prerequisites for medical and dental schools if I did change my mind, and regardless of any future indecisiveness, I knew a degree in engineering would have good job currency. Thanks, Mom, for the “have a backup plan” advice!
You were an officer in the U.S. Navy and the “dental doc” aboard the USS Rushmore. How did you spend your time while in the Navy?
The decision to join the Navy right out of dental school was the best thing for my professional development, not to mention the student loans. My “real world education” started with my first assignment to Great Lakes Naval Hospital in its one-year AEGD program. I was immersed in exodontia, periodontal surgery and endodontics. From there, I was stationed to a dental clinic in Bahrain. This assignment is where I really learned the meaning of “home is where you make it.” I had an amazing mentor who pushed me to the next level.
From the Middle East, I went to the West Coast, to Naval Base San Diego, and then boomeranged back to the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Rushmore. I like to think of these as my “M*A*S*H years.” I have so many great stories—imagine trying to do a root canal with 20-foot waves crashing into the side of your ship.
As past president of the Maine Dental Association, you’ve had a unique vantage of the profession and industry. What would you say the state of dentistry is?
The big thing I see coming is how 3D printing is going to revolutionize this profession. In Europe, printer companies like EnvisionTEC already have approval for long-term indirect crown-and-bridge material. Printer technology is going to change full denture fabrication
If you’re interested in seeing the whole article, here you go: Office Visit: Dr. Peter Drews by Kyle Patton.
As For The Rest Of Summer . . .
I’ll continue to make waves, positive waves, throughout my career . . . but summertime means enjoying the waves at Pine Point, too. Sure, it’s bitter cold for a good part of the year here, but that just makes the beautiful Maine summers all the more delightful.
And if you find yourself with a terrible toothache this summer, and you’re leery about going to the dentist, give us a call and schedule an appointment. I have been in your shoes and I can help.
Love & Sunscreen,
Kristie Lake, DMD