I sat down to talk with Dr. Kayla Mullins on October 5 about her path to dentistry.  Dr. Mullins graduated from dental school in 2017 and bought out a dental practice in Radford, so she’s been a working dentist for a couple of years now (and full disclosure, some of that work has been on me).

Her interest in dentistry emerged from a long-held desire to work in medicine. Having parents whose work involved being accessible 24/7, she also wanted a career with a fairly regular schedule.  Her own dentist suggested that she spend a day shadowing him to see what the work was like, and she was sold: “I knew from then on that was what I wanted to do”.

What made her fall in love with dentistry?  She spoke warmly of seeing families grow up and interacting with people that you know and develop relationships with, interactions that grow over time.  “I never expect someone to love going to the dentist” but it is gratifying to see people grow in their confidence and to be able to make them more comfortable.  An advantage to practicing in Radford is that she’s a Radford native, and provides these services to people she knows, which is a nice benefit…”it makes me feel really good”.  Clearly, dentistry is a good choice for someone who really values contributing to one’s community.

After four years at Roanoke College, she graduated with a B.S. in biology in 2013 (“the first year without the Bittle tree”) She spoke very highly of how Roanoke College, particularly biology, prepared her for dental school and she went back more than once to her college notes: they were often were better or clearer than the same material from dental school faculty.  Next stop: WVU dental school where there were plenty of challenges such as a day of classes that went from 8 am until 5 pm and a LOT of information.

Dr. Mullins offered several tips: In terms of getting into a school, contact the schools of interest early on and find out what classes they require or recommend, then work them into your schedule early enough that you’ll have a grade in them when you apply.  And don’t be afraid to email or call people at the school: there is something to be said for having one’s name recognized as interested and involved when the applications are reviewed.  Be prepared to translate the INQ curriculum to something the school recognizes.  And take advantage of the great resources that are the Roanoke College professors!

Once you’re in a dental school: find what kind of studying and note-taking works for you and stick to it, and don’t worry about what the other students are doing.  She was a big fan of getting solid sleep and having a strict bedtime, and doing something for herself each week that she could look forward to, and exercise.  The first two years were the toughest…after that, there was much more clinic work and contact with patient, which was much more gratifying than drilling plastic teeth in class.

Other questions about getting into dentistry? Dr. Mullins would be happy to talk with you…shoot an email to allen@roanoke.edu to be put in contact with her.

Congratulations to Dr. Kayla Mullins!