A day in their scrubs
Chad Packard inherited his passion for dentistry from his dad’s side. His knack for swing dancing? That’s all mom.
When Packard graduates from dental school next spring, he’ll join a long line of Texas A&M College of Dentistry alumni, including his dad, brother and some cousins.
Last year, Packard was one of 12 students who participated in the college’s pilot program to try out the new patient-care model portion of the revised curriculum.
“Being in the pilot program for the new clinical program gave me several opportunities to have experiences earlier in my clinical career than I otherwise would have. I have learned and grown a lot by being willing to trust faculty and dive into treatment,” he says.
Before Packard immersed himself in the world of dentistry, he spent plenty of time on the dance floor.
He caught the swing bug early when his mom shared the steps. His siblings joined him in talent shows, and he even ran a dance club in high school. But his best swing-dance story is definitely from his college days.
“If it weren’t for that talent, I never would have met my wife,” he says. “We were at the swing-dance club in Provo, me with my friends and her on a date. I taught her and her date a lift and got her name. We ran into each other on campus two days later.”
Four months later, they were married. The couple recently celebrated their sixth anniversary. They currently share their swing-dance know-how with youth groups at their church. Family reunions (on his mom’s side, naturally) always include at least one family swing dance. And you’d better believe when the time comes, he’ll pass along his family’s dance tradition to his daughters.
Hometown: I grew up in McKinney, Texas.
Undergrad institution: I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Why Texas A&M College of Dentistry: I have had a lot of family come through here, including my dad, older brother, brother-in-law and several cousins. For my wife and me, it was very important that she have a support system during the four years I was in school. Living in Dallas has allowed us to be close to family.
Dental school success strategy: For me to feel successful in dental school, I needed to be able to balance my life and then graduate feeling prepared to practice rural dentistry. My wife has been incredibly important to that success and balance. She has taken on many responsibilities that allow me to direct my focus where it is most needed, whether that be school, playing with my two daughters, our weekend job, or the church youth group that I am a minister for.
Favorite energy food: I don’t know about energy food, but playing with my daughters or a date night with my wife after a hard day at school definitely helps me refocus on why I’m going through all of this.
How you unwind after a long day in lecture, lab or clinic: With two girls age 2 and under at home and everything dental school entails, my wife and I take turns “unwinding” after hard days. Sometimes I come home after a tough one and her day was worse. I say a prayer, hang up the badge and put my dad hat on.
Best dental school moment so far: Three of my classmates and I have become close friends. Each fall our wives let us take a hunting trip to my grandparents’ property. We are 0-3, but they have all been great memories.
Favorite patient care experience: I received a patient who had finished most of her treatment with my D4 pilot program teammate. She is an emigrant from Africa in her 80s and brings her daughter to translate.
The final treatment that I would complete was a maxillary partial denture. I did not treat the process any differently. However, the patient’s appreciation upon receiving the partial was very different.
When she stood up and analyzed her smile in the mirror, she was teary–eyed and hugged me. Then she kissed my hand, bowed her head and started speaking. Her daughter shared that she was blessing me and my work. I was moved by her gratitude and the effect that this very pedestrian treatment had on her.
Goal after graduation: My wife and I want to be small-town practice owners. We both grew up in the suburbs and we want something different for our family. When we are financially able, we will buy a practice and then a ranch.