A day in their scrubs
Meet first-year dental student Lowell Stanford.
In the 15 months prior to coming to Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, Lowell Stanford wracked up some impressive on-the-job skills to add to his dental school application. A 2013 West Point grad and second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he oversaw a medic platoon with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
Field training exercises required him to evacuate patients while surrounded by thick smoke, the jarring pop pop pop of live rounds and the sounds of people screaming. The experience sharpened Stanford’s patient care skills in high-pressure situations. Repelling out of Black Hawk helicopters and jumping out of planes was just an added bonus.
In 2018, when Stanford returns to the service as a member of the Army Dental Corps, his job description will have a few extra duties not customary to the dental profession’s civilian sector.
“In a deployed scenario you have a mobile hospital setup, and as a dentist you wouldn’t necessarily expect this, but part of the job is to triage a mass casualty situation,” Stanford says. “If a convoy get hits, and there are multiple casualties, I would triage to see whose treatment takes priority.”
A recipient of an Army health professions scholarship, Stanford applied to TAMBCD, was accepted and immediately out-processed from active duty to begin dental school. After a quick one-week vacation, he and his wife, Courtney, headed back to Dallas for the start of the fall semester.
Hometown: Southlake, Texas
Undergrad institution: The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY
Dental school survival strategy: Stay busy and lean on my classmates. As counterintuitive as it may seem, I find that I am most productive when I maintain a routine with the occasional tidal wave of exams and assignments. It’s during these weeks that I have to manage my time most effectively to accomplish my dental school tasks and continue to make time for other things that matter most to me — like fitness and spending time with my wife, Courtney.
Another key to my survival in dental school is my classmates. Not only am I surrounded by some of the most fun and gifted people I have ever met, but they are always willing to help.
Favorite energy food: My favorite in-lecture energy snack would have to be baby carrots, and my favorite post-run energy food is chocolate chip cookies and milk.
Best way to unwind after a long day in lecture or lab: The best way for me to unwind and clear my head is going for a long run. I usually change right after class and drive out to the White Rock Lake trail and run anywhere from 4 miles to the entire length around the lake, which is just over 9 miles.
Dental school aha moment: This past Thanksgiving break when I was shadowing Dr. Chad Perry, a general dentist and Baylor alum. We were talking about dentistry in the grand scheme of things and shared the idea that grade point averages, revenues or a prestigious biography are not measures for success in dentistry. Rather, it’s how great of a difference you can make on the lives of your patients.
Goal after graduation: After dental school, I will have the great honor of continuing to serve in the United States Army. One goal I have is to get involved in a residency program that the Army offers — potentially comprehensive general dentistry or orthodontics. More than anything, I am excited to be returning to the Army culture and using my skill set to serve fellow soldiers. Courtney and I also have great hopes that we get posted to some fun areas — like Hawaii or Colorado — but we would also be happy to stay in Texas.
What people may not know about you: I was an Army platoon leader prior to dental school and I have had some great opportunities, such as experiencing jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at Airborne School and repelling about 100 feet from a Black Hawk helicopter at Air Assault School. I also earned the Expert Field Medic Badge — a qualification measuring warrior skills, tactical combat casualty care and casualty evacuation skills — just a few months before beginning dental school.