Community Outreach Dentist
Dr. Ryan Lindner, Community Dental Director
Dr. Lindner, Dental Director, Southside Community Health Services, oversees a staff of 25 including seven dentists, four hygienists, six dental assistants and others, serving a very diverse patient population as well as operating one mobile health van that travels to ten nursing homes in the area. Dr. Lindner especially loves the cultural and language diversity of the clinic’s patients. In a given week, Dr. Lindner spends approximately 35 hours a week with patients and about four hours in administrative - related work.
7:00 am- 12:00 pm Dr. Lindner’s day begins early - often with a first appointment at 7:00 am.
It is typical that this is the patient’s first visit to a dentist and may begin with a full set of x-rays. After some diagnostic work, Dr. Lindner and the dental hygienist work together in developing a comprehensive treatment plan. The clinic had just been awarded a grant to fund the hiring of several new dental specialists. As the clinic serves a patient population of individuals receiving medical assistance, it is often difficult for the patients to locate dental specialists on their own.
1:00 pm-5:00 pm: Along with seeing around 13 or patients daily, Dr. Lindner is often asked for advice, assistance and help in troubleshooting issues involving patients, staff and the office. (the office is engaged in going paperless and this is generating many questions). A goal of the clinic is to educate patients toward the idea of comprehensive care and not wait to seek dental care only when there is an emergency situation. Most days he is finished working before 5:30 pm with one late evening working until 8 or 9:00pm.
What is the most gratifying part of being the director of a community health clinic?
I love the diversity of patients (the range of backgrounds) that the Southside Community Health Services offers. Also the fact that, as a dental director of a community clinic, I am not solely responsible for solving all the clinic issues as one would be in a private practice. That also makes my personal life easier in that I don’t feel worried about taking a vacation when I want. There will always be someone else to mind the clinic. In addition, he enjoys the mix of patients and policy issues of dentistry. Dr. Lindner appreciates that the clinic is very conducive to family dental visits and offers a high level of family-centered care. He has seen patients as young as two and as old as 112 years old.
How did you get interested in public health dentistry?
I had an interest in dentistry beginning around the age of seven due to the influence of a terrific family dentist. However in dental school, I had a very helpful mentor that allowed me to do research in various public health areas and a range of patients. After researching the area (of public health dentistry), I especially appreciated the chance to work with patients from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
What advice would you give a student who is unsure about dentistry as a career choice?
I would advise the person to pursue a variety of shadowing experiences including different specialties and various procedures.
What advice would you give a college student considering dentistry as a career?
Certainly take the recommended dental school prerequisites but in addition I would recommend taking any unusual courses that interest you and help you stand out as a candidate. My point is that it is helpful to be a well rounded candidate and not necessarily one who has a 4.0 GPA. Out of many candidates applying to dental school, you need something special to standout other than your GPA.
Note: To find out more information about the career field of public health dentistry, please see the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD) career information site, Why Choose a Career in Public Health Dentistry (PDF).
For information on the non - profit association representing the directors and staff of state public health agency programs for oral health see http://www.astdd.org/.