A day in their scrubs

December 15th, 2014

Meet first-year dental student Talon Davis.

First-year dental student Talon Davis plays the double bass on the 17th floor of Roberts Hospital at Baylor University Medical Center

Four years ago, Talon Davis embarked on a career as a professional musician. A double bassist, he played for the Fort Worth and Plano symphonies and taught private lessons. He and his wife, Kristin, also a double bassist, even pursued their master’s degrees in music performance together at the University of North Texas.

Then something in Davis began to shift.

“I wasn’t getting professional satisfaction from music,” Davis says. “It’s a hard job; it’s not consistent.” The only guarantee was performances that dictated he work most Thursday to Sunday evenings.

“I wanted a career that was better for home life. I had an inkling in my head that I wanted to do something in the health sciences,” Davis says. “I was looking around, thought about med school, thought about all of the major professional schools. Dentistry seemed to have the best combination: You can be passionate about something, you can support your family, and you can make a difference in the community.”

He promptly completed a chemistry postbaccalaureate program at UNT, applied to dental school, and by fall 2014, had begun his first year as a dental student at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.

Hometown: Edmond, Okla.

Undergrad institution: OU; I am Sooner born and Sooner bred.

Dental school survival strategy: Don’t let any individual performance dictate your feelings about yourself or dental school. We are all learning how to fail over and over again and how to bounce back and do a better job the next day. You are never lacking an opportunity to do better.

Most productive time of day: I have to space it out because I commute from Lewisville. I take the DART at 6 a.m., study there and on the way home, and then a little after dinner.

Favorite energy food: I stole this idea from one of my classmates, Amanda, who keeps a jar of peanut butter in her locker. I take a scoop from there. It’s fast, and it’s cheap.

Best way to unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: I still perform professionally. I expected to not be able to do much with my music during dental school. Turns out I still have a lot of time for it. That’s allowed me to shift my mindset from music being my job to something I can enjoy. My wife and I perform together when we can. There’s a limited number of bass players in each orchestra, and finding the opportunity to both be hired for something is rare.

Dental school aha moment: It was in the months leading up to dental school and talking to D2s, D3s, D4s and dentists who have already graduated. Many warned me, “This is going to be really hard, but you don’t have to kill yourself, you don’t have to be the 4.0 guy; if you don’t want to specialize, you don’t have to get 100s on every test. Try to get the most out of your education because you are paying for it, but don’t lose yourself and your mind over dental school.”

I have talked to a lot of professionals who told me, “Dental school is one of the best things you are going to do and one of the worst things you are going to do.” A lot of it is going to depend on how much I do and how much extra I take from the experience.

Goal after graduation: Within six months to a year of graduation I would like to purchase a pre-existing practice; not start from scratch. My wife really loves her job — she’s an orchestra director in Arlington. If I can do something to facilitate her happiness obviously I’m going to do that. I like DFW. It’s a very competitive market here, but there are opportunities for someone to do what they want to do, so I imagine we’ll be in DFW or the Oklahoma City metro area.

What people may not know about you: I once drove from Dallas to Ottawa, Canada, for a music festival. It was in summer 2011 as I was finishing my master’s. I went most of the way by myself and picked up more people going to the festival. I was going to study with one of my favorite musical “idols” and wanted to take my own instrument. You either fly with a bass, which is very expensive and very cumbersome, or you can drive with a bass. I did it in three days.


— Jennifer Fuentes