In which, here are some things to do in Seattle while at AAPD

When it was first announced that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s conference would be in Seattle while I was here as a resident, I was a little disappointed – one of the highlights of residency is traveling somewhere during your graduation year. Going to Boston last year made up for it, but still. After having traveled all over the US in the past five months however, my tune has changed and I am very excited to have a conference where I can sleep in my own bed.

So, if you’re coming to our current city, here are some of my favorite things to do. I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we have!

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (West, up the hill)

  • This is the Capitol Hill neighborhood – the historic “LGBTQ neighborhood” now is filled with hipsters, fancy restaurants, art galleries and startups. A great infographic (made of course by an infographic specific startup in Capitol Hill) can be seen here.
View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

  • Food
    • Sitka and Spruce: Classic Seattle farm-to-table dining with a menu changing nightly.  The space is just lovely – the restaurant is housed within Melrose Market (which has Taylor Shellfish if you like oysters, a distillery or two and some Seattle-y small shops: flower shop, butcher, cheese shop etc)
    • Mamnoon: Delicious Lebanese fusion that is still very “Seattle”
    • Oddfellows Cafe: Great dining space and food. Takes reservations. Check out the Elliot Bay Book Company next door
    • Barrio: One of my favorite fancy Mexican restaurants
    • La Spiga: Excellent Italian food
    • Dick’s Drive-In: Hometown hero Macklemore shot a video here and while the burgers are good, the fries aren’t awesome (acceptable if doused in tartar sauce). It’s a Seattle icon and cheap. Cash only.
    • Really anywhere along The Pike-Pine corridor or along Madison – it will be hopping on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights
  • Sites
    • Broadway is a street with a young scene. A lot of easy to grab food and funky shops. Seattle Central College’s campus is here.
    • Cal Anderson Park – grab some Molly Moon’s ice cream and watch people play bike polo (it’s weirdly entertaining and some of the best in the world practice here).
    • Starbucks Roastery – their uber fancy Seattle coffee room. Better than the Original Starbucks in the Market (and less tourists vying to snap a photo of the mermaid with boobs), but still Starbucks. Other great coffees include Caffe Vita, Broadcast Coffee, and Top Pot (which also has amazing doughnuts)
    • Some of the best people-watching in the city, and very few of them will be tourists.
Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Within walking distance of the Convention Center (East, down the hill)

  • This is the City Center/Downtown/Pike Place Market area – the touristy area that you should at least check out so you can say you’ve “been to Seattle”:
Seattle skyline from the waterfront

Seattle skyline from the waterfront

  • Food
    •  Plenty of stalls to grab fresh fruit or veggies from in the Market
    • Of course you’ll find all your chain restaurants in the City Center: Cheesecake Factory, Capitol Grill, Ruth’s Chris, etc (but you didn’t come all this way to eat there, right?)
    • The Original Starbucks – it’ll be the one with a long line of tourists with cameras. It serves the same drinks as the others, but with a longer wait. You can get a specialty roast there that is only sold in that store, but otherwise, I’d just peek in and skip the line.
    • Etta’s – or really any of the Tom Douglas restaurants. Grab fresh seafood here instead of the higher priced restaurants in the Market proper (Matt’s, Cafe Campagne, etc) or the decent, but panders-to-tourists Pike Place Chowder.
      • Speaking of Tom Douglas, his other restaurants that are in walking distance: Lola (Mediterranean), Dahlia Lounge (new American), Serious Pie (pizza – delicious!), SeaBar (seafood/oysters), Palace Kitchen (comfort food, open late), Tanaka San (“unauthentic Asian street food” – his words, not mine), and most recenty Cantina Lena (Mexican).
    • A little further out, but delicious: Bar Sajor is a Mediterranean/almost north African inspired, lots of great spices, still with a Northwest twist
    • Rachel’s Ginger Beer – delicious and comes in a bunch of seasonal flavors. Also has a cute tasting room with great views of Elliot Bay and the ferries
    • Local 360 and Spur Gastropub – both farm-to-table places and delicious

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  • Sites
    • We are home to the original Nordstrom’s and the flagship store for REI (two stories of gear with an outdoor bike track) – both fun buildings to check out.
    • Once in the Market, stop by the Gum Wall: down Post Alley, gross, but a good picture
    • Watch them throw fish on the corner at Pike Place Fish Company
    • Wander down through the Market to the Seattle Waterfront. It’s under a lot of construction (we’re trying to replace the ugly double-decker Highway 99 that threatens to fall into Elliot Bay during an earthquake)
      • Seattle Aquarium ($22): Play in tide pools and see the great otter exhibit. Good feel of PNW wildlife.
      • Walk out on the piers for great views of the stadiums, Seattle harbor and Mount Rainier on a sunny day. If you look back and see Smith Tower (white, pointy building) – it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi and someone lives in the top spire.
      • Seattle Wheel ($13): I’ve never been able to justify the price and go up in it, but fun to look at.
      • If you have time: a great hour to two hour trip is to walk onto a ferry and go over the Bainbridge Island. It’s $8 and gives you the opportunity to 1) ride on a Washington state ferry from the busiest ferry terminal in the US, 2) check out Bainbridge (there’s a great ice cream shop at the ferry terminal) and 3) have spectacular views of the city, the Sound, the Olympic mountains out on the peninsula and get some fresh air. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
      • Also can ride the water taxi out to Alki Beach if you’re short on time and see where the first settlers tried to brave out a stormy winter.
    • Also, just FYI: we’re currently protesting the Shell Oil rig on it’s way up drill near Alaska. You’ll see a bunch of people kayaking in the Harbor as “kayaktavists”  #sHellNo
Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest.  Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle's Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.  Photo by Greenpeace

Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest. Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle’s Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. Photo by Greenpeace

Will require either a taxi or an Uber ride, but worth it (organized by neighborhood)

All of these will be a $10-15 ride, but you can walk a lot or do other activities while you’re there and will show you a taste of how real Seattlites live.

Gas Works Park from the water

Gas Works Park from the water

  • Lake Union/U-District/Wallingford
    • You can rent a bike (maybe at REI?) and ride around it – great interurban lake.
    • Gas Works Park: at the north end, one of my favorite views of the city. Great for a picnic lunch. If you’re going that way, stop by Paseo’s in Fremont for one of my favorite sandwiches of all time (cash only, expect a line).
    • Rent a kayak at Agua Verde in the U-district (it’s really close to the dental school if you’d like to see that, but it’s old and kind of ugly, so would not recommend). You can paddle out to Lake Union (calmer) or Lake Washington (if you’re feeling brave) and enjoy tacos afterwards. Next to the University of Washington
    • Center for Wooden Boats and the MOHAI – great Seattle cultural areas in South Lake Union (where Amazon reigns)
    • Ivar’s Salmon House (a Seattle icon) or Westward (outdoor fireplace!) for delicious seafood and spectacular views of the city across Lake Union. Both take reservations.
    • We live in the Wallingford neighborhood which we love – let me know if you have an specific questions about food there (or see our Seattle Survey).
View of the city from Gas Works Park

View of the city from Gas Works Park

  • Queen Anne
    • This is near the Seattle Center where the Reception will be. Since that’s included in the AAPD I’m not going to go into detail about it, but it’s an easy walk to Westlake Center (a shopping area) and then you can take the monorail down to it. There are only terminal stops on the monorail despite the vote every few years to extend it throughout the city.
    • One of my favorite views of the city is at Kerry Park, up the hill and you can see Mount Rainier on a sunny day
My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

  • Ballard/Fremont
    • Fremont has a reputation for being where all the old hippies in Seattle live and they are the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”. Funky shops and great food including Revel, The Whale Wins, Agrodolce, Joule and Roux.
    • Awesome tasting room and some of my favorite beer at the Fremont Brewery. Get the Interurban IPA, it tastes like summer.  
    • Also to see in Fremont: The Fremont Troll, the Lenin Statue and the Ballard Locks on your way out to Ballard
    • Ballard’s Market Street has a ton of great shops and restaurants including Bastille Cafe and Bar and the best oysters in the city at The Walrus and the Carpenter (does not take reservations, opens at 4pm).
    • Grab a Paseo sandwich (cash only) and eat a picnic lunch at Golden Gardens – a fantastic park overlooking the Sound and Olympic mountains. You can have bonfires on the beach here.
View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

Links to some of the things I’ve done with visitors

Other “cultural” notes

Just some things to be aware of when visiting our fine city:

  • The fine for jaywalking ($56) is higher than the fine for smoking pot in public ($27) and they love to write tickets for the former, not the latter. You’ve been warned.
  • Our public transit isn’t great. The light rail won’t get you anywhere too exciting and the monorail only runs between Westlake Center and the Space Needle. Uber and Lyft are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around or a traditional taxi. Rides from the City Center to any of the places listed will run $10-15 (but check first to make sure there isn’t a rate hike due to demand).
  • Most places will have three bins in which to dispose of your trash: landfill, recycle and compost. Use the signs that are usually attached to help you navigate them or ask a friendly stranger – people won’t judge you for sending things to the landfill, but they will judge you for putting a recyclable in the compost bin. Also any compostable utensil (usually they’re brown and feel plastic-y) will melt in your very hot food – just don’t let it sit in there between bites and you’ll be okay.

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In which I went to Boston and turned 30

Last fall I was one of two residents who were chosen to represent our pediatric dental department at the International Association of Dental Research conference in Boston. The next few times this conference meets it’ll be in LA, South Korea and San Francisco – not sure how I got lucky enough to go to the city who is having snowiest winter on record!

Seattle is currently in full on spring right now

Seattle is currently in full on spring right now

As the dates worked out – I had to take the Red-Eye flight on our anniversary (3 years! how did it go by so quickly?!) and left Seattle springtime for this:

That is the Charles River - frozen.

That is the Charles River – frozen.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting a lot out of this conference – I had presentations Wednesday morning (an hour after landing from the Red-Eye) and a presentation on Saturday (two hours before leaving to catch a flight home on my birthday), but not much else lined up. I brough extra work to catch up on and something I never bring to a conference – running clothes in anticipation of going to the gym. HAHAHAHAHA. None of that happened. I was busy every day from early in the morning to late at night finding symposia, attending lectures, and  meeting up with old friends. So much for getting caught up.

The conference was in the same place whee the AAPD meeting was last year so I knew where everything was and it also meant that I had pretty much exhausted the must-do touristy things in the area. That didn’t stop me from heading up to the North End for Italian food with another grad student the first evening though:

I ordered the lobster special - was not disappointed!

I ordered the lobster special – was not disappointed!

Cheers to good food and grad student therapy sessions

Cheers to good food and grad student therapy sessions

I don’t have many other fun pictures – because what else do you expect from a research meeting? I did have the chance to catch up with Kevin Ricker, my classmate from UNC and the only one still hanging out with me in residency since his is a three-year program as well:

Always good to catch up

Always good to catch up

The largest component of a research meeting is the poster presentations. To give you some scale, here is one half of one of the two halls that were going on a given day:

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And there were two halls filled with posters. Each day was a new session with new posters – and there were three days of those. Goodness! It was a little crazy. You’re required to stand in front of your poster for an hour or so at a given time on the given day of your presentation in case someone wanted to come ask you questions about your research – otherwise people were free to browse them at will.

My advisor and I in front of my poster

My advisor and I in front of my poster

Karin, my co-resident who presented a poster as well, and I

Karin, my co-resident who presented a poster as well, and I

You’re assigned your poster time and unfortunately mine was on the 14th, my birthday.

Don't all the cool kids celebrate turning 30 at a dental research poster session?

Don’t all the cool kids celebrate turning 30 at a dental research poster session?

Despite spending most of the day on the east coast, the plane ride back to Seattle meant that I got an extra three hours of birthday in the air. I ordered wine accordingly. Arriving at 11:00pm meant that I was in no mood to go out, but my dear friends offered to host a birthday brunch the next day – my favorite kind of party 🙂

Mike made these awesome authentic Belgian pancakes with apples and bacon - so delicious!

Mike made these awesome authentic Belgian pancakes with apples and bacon – so delicious!

Great friends!

Great friends!

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Beautiful cheese tray

The only thing that could’ve made the party more perfect is if I didn’t have a final the next day – oh grad school! You’re so close to being done!

Since I’ve posted about my 30th here, I might as well post Jeff’s pictures too since I’m catching up on things. I threw him a surprise party at the Moon Temple (before it closed 😦 ) back in December with a bunch of our good friends:

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Pecan pie - his favorite

Pecan pie – his favorite

Tim McGraw, as he always so good at doing, summed it up best in his song:

I think I’ll take a moment celebrate my age
End of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years

In my next thirty years I’m gonna have some fun
Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done
Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears
And I’ll do it better in my next thirty years

My next thirty years I’m gonna settle all the scores
Cry a little less, laugh a little more
Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear
Figure out just what I’m doin’ here in my next thirty years

For my next thirty years I’m gonna watch my weight
Eat a few more salads and not stay up so late
Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers
Maybe I’ll remember my next thirty years

My next thirty years will be the best years of my life
Raise a little family and hang out with my wife
Spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear
Make up for lost time here in my next thirty years
In my next thirty years

The only line I take issue with is to “try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done” – those crazy things have been some of my favorite memories or best lessons. It’s been a humbling, intense, amazing three decades for which I am immensely grateful; I’m excited to see where we go from here.

In which I know they’re going to do great

My co-residents are taking the AAPD written boards tomorrow and checking off one giant item from the graduation to-do list. I’m sad I won’t be in the trenches with them, but I know they’ve been studying hard and will do beyond awesome. Good luck y’all!!!

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck :)

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck 🙂

In which March has been busy

The quarter system, in addition to being an arduous sprint, also means that finals happen the week in March of our anniversary/my birthday. No fun! That week used to be called Spring Break and it was an awesome oasis in the middle of a long, rambling semester. Now it’s a week where I have finals and then take a break in which I do residency and not just classes-plus-residency. This all is just really an excuse for why I haven’t updated in any substantial amount lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Kindergarten Class Visit

Kindergarten Class Visit

February was National Children’s Dental Health Month and I got to go speak to our dear friend Andrea’s Kindergarten class on choosing healthy snacks for teeth and the important of oral health. Along with the requisite toothbrushes and toothpaste I packed up some healthy kid snacks and some animal models to practice brushing.

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This picture of my animal models is either adorable or terrifying depending on who you ask.

The kids were amazingly sweet and knew a lot of answers to my questions from having completed the Weekly Reader in the morning (I was so excited that they still have those!! but they don’t smell funny like like I remember. They’re also not on the old recycled paper with the smudgy ink).

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class - definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class – definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world - I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world – I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

This is shaping up to be one of the wettest Marches on record in Seattle. As of today we’ve have 8.02″, almost at the 8.40″ record set in 1950. Every now and then we get some sun breaks:

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat for some vitamin D.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat and cardigan for some vitamin D.

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

March has also been the month of finishing up my provisional year requirements with the Junior League of Seattle. I can’t say enough good things about the women in my small group and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the community. My main project with the League this year has been with the Kids in the Kitchen committee where we teach elementary school kids at the Boys & Girls Club about cooking healthy meals. Our March event was a success and I’m excited to tackle the April one with the rest of the provisionals on the committee:

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it's setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it’s setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

March in the Sarvas household is full of celebrations: We celebrated the Cotton Anniversary on the 10th and my 29th birthday on the 14th.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and #2 sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some cotton pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I'm celebrating my second birthday.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I’m celebrating my second birthday.

I’m not sure why I have such an obsession with maps or with National Parks, but Jeff found the perfect present to meld these two: a map where we can check off the National Parks as we visit them! It speaks to my love of geography, of traveling and of checking things off lists – it’s perfect.

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I’ve already started planning how we’re going to fill it it: Next time we’re in Nashville, Mammoth Caves is only 2 hours away and we could check off Cuyahoga when we’re in Pittsburgh. Else wise I think a major road trip should be in the works!

That about rounds out where I’ve been instead of writing on this blog. Hopefully this next quarter will allow for some more time to explore and report back. Especially now that I’m officially done with call and won’t have to park here anymore (though I always kind of felt like a badass when I pulled in):

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In which I felt the need to respond

I saw this on my twitter feed today:

I tried to embed it here: Tenn. reporter gives parents good tips to protect their kids' teeth from decay http://t.co/nMBgzmIoWF #Dentalisfundamental @karennazorhill— CDHP (@Teeth_Matter) February 5, 2014

..and got excited. A paper from my home state was highlighting children’s oral health – particularly applicable since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. But then I read the article, linked here, and was sadly disappointed.

If you have nothing better to do with your day, my response that I emailed to Ms. Hill is pasted below:

Ms. Hill,

First I would like to thank you for highlighting the importance of children’s oral health for the Chattanooga community. Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number one chronic disease affecting young children and establishing a healthy mouth promotes overall well-being.

I am concerned that parts of your article are inadvertently dismissive of the current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics that children see a dentist by age one and do not fully emphasize the importance of dental care for children:

The entire anecdotal section about Dr. Joseph Brogden’s interaction with his grandson is not applicable to many patients. Dr. Brogden is a general dentist and unfortunately is disseminating and reinforcing false, outdated information about children’s teeth (as quoted by his daughter as saying: “…it really isn’t necessary to get kids to the dentist too young. After all, baby teeth do fall out”). The reason that we currently recommend children seeing a dentist at age one is because all too often when they are seen at three, four, five years old or later, they already have cavities that need to be fixed. Sadly, emergency room visits for children because of tooth pain are on the rise and dental disease contributes to thousands of lost school days each year.

Cavities in baby teeth can quickly spread to the nerve of the tooth and then into the bone which can damage developing adult teeth and cause life threatening infections. Many times this necessitates having the baby tooth pulled, and then it no longer holds space for the permanent tooth that will come in when the child is 11 or 12, which can cause crowding. Young patients are particularly challenging as highlighted by your article. Children do not often want to sit in a dental chair and fixing even small cavities on their baby teeth before they get larger is often impossible. Without good preventative measures, it is often necessary that children have surgery under general anesthesia or sedation to fix their cavities, which comes with its own set of risks.

By seeing a child early and often, dentists can help parents prevent cavities and monitor a child’s growth and development. Dr. Charles Ankar highlighted helpful hints that are useful for parents, but I’m afraid that the consequences of not following these guidelines were not forthcoming in your article.

Quotes from parents saying that going to the dentist is both difficult and a waste of time and money is unhelpful for the general public (“I thought it was a total waste of time and money and put Shad and I in a power struggle of ‘you must sit for the dentist’ that we just didn’t need. I won’t take Knox for many years, unless, of course, there is something that needs to be checked out”). For some children, going to the dentist is difficult, but so is getting necessarily immunizations from their pediatrician. Pediatric dentists are dentists who have gone to dental school and then completed an additional two years of training afterwards, and are a good resource for scared kids. They have been trained in techniques to help familiarize children to the dental environment while providing age appropriate care. I was disappointed that you did not include any pediatric dental specialists in your article. As for early visits being a “waste of money”, it is much cheaper to see a dentist for preventative cleanings and exams than to fix cavities (especially under general anesthesia) or be seen in the emergency room for tooth pain.

Again, I am very thankful that children’s oral health is being highlighted by the media, so I do not mean for this letter to be disparaging. I am only concerned that the importance was not properly conveyed. The answer to the question posed in the title of your article should have been a clear, unequivocal “age one” in order to prevent undue morbidity, and rarely but tragically, mortality. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, when the American Dental Association raises awareness about developing good habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth. This however this is clearly an important public health issue that needs to be addressed year round.

Sincerely,

Elise Sarvas, DDS

Pediatric Dental Resident and Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington

Native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

In which we MATCHed new residents!

MATCH day was Monday and I’m so excited to welcome a new class of excellent residents to UW! They’re the last class I’ll get to be co-residents with, so they hold a special place in my heart (though who are we kidding, I love all my co-ressies so much and they all have special places). Between the residency interview process and the Duke Alumni interviews I’ve been conducting over the past few weeks, I’m very thankful that I’m not on that end of either application cycle. So excited to meet our new co-ressies in June!

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From us: Kari, Ian, Matt, Jane, Karin, Tiara, myself, Kat, Gloria, Karen and Bri – WELCOME! We’ll try to find some sunshine before you get up here.

In which I start a new chapter

When I ranked UW and Seattle first during the Match process, I was really excited. This was the only program where you could dual train in pediatric dentistry and public health and get paid to do it. I was even more excited when two weeks later I found out that I’d matched to one of the two spots in the country available. Awesome – I would earn not only my Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry (which alone qualifies you to be a pediatric dentist), but also my Master’s of Science in Dentistry and my Master’s in Public Health. It was the ideal triple threat combination that lets you go wherever you want. Bonus: I loved that Bri was the other person who matched to the position; we got along great and I knew we’d make an awesome team. But then, fast forward a year and some initially trying months of residency later, and my program told me that the grant that made all this possible no longer existed. Done. Gone. Over. No chance of finding additional funding. Sayonara. Goodbye.

I was, needless to say, a tad upset. I had moved not only myself, but my husband, 2,853 miles across a continent for this. I ranked other really good programs lower to do this. I gave up just going straight into a lucrative, safe dental practice to do this. I had already been accepted at UW’s School of Public Health – a top ranked institution. Not cool. Seriously, not cool. My program gave me two options: 1) just drop the MPH and complete the traditional pediatric dental residency and graduate in two years with the Certificate and Master’s of Science in Dentistry or 2) continue with the additional Master’s of Public Health track, knowing that I would not earn a salary for my third year and I would be responsible for the additional tuition. Option #1 was out – I’d already going through too much to get here. Option #2 was really out, because seriously y’all, I’m in the 22nd grade, and all those years of schooling don’t come cheap. Until we win the lottery I’d rather not add to the debt load already bearing down on us. I was crushed.

But this story has a good ending (though for many sleepless nights there didn’t seem like there’d be one): through some hard work and a lot of good luck I was able to fall into the right place at the right time with the right people. I’ve been awarded a T90 postdoctoral trainee grant from the NIH to continue my work in pediatric dentistry and start my MPH classes next week. It comes with the stipulation that I spend a majority of my time in research, an area I’ve always loved, but have recently fully embraced as where I’m supposed to be. This puts me on the path to Academia, a world I know well from the student side and am learning more about each day from the teaching side. I’ve always had lingering doubts about running a private practice as a solo practitioner, and this solidifies that that probably was never going to be the right choice for me. The one downside of all this is that I’ll have less time to spend with my co-residents, whom I love and whose friendships I cherish very much. They’ve been very supportive in the transition and I’m thankful that we’ll still share a few clinics and more importantly, many happy hours together.

Thanks to all of you who lived out this saga in real time through phone calls and emails; your support sustained me. Thanks for never giving up on me and more importantly, for never letting me give up on myself. Thanks for reminding me that life has a funny way of always placing you precisely where you need to be.

This isn’t the direction I set out on, but I’m so freaking excited to see where it goes.

MPH orientation today

MPH orientation today