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Same name, different stories

Stranger than fiction: From left, Dr. Wendy Churchill (New Mexico) and Dr. Wendy Churchill (Florida) find out they share more than just the same name.
ADA News coverage of a July conference on workforce issues brought together two ADA members who otherwise might never have met.

Dr. Wendy Churchill, an ADA member from Tampa, Fla., was flipping though the ADA News when she noticed a woman—not her—identified as Dr. Wendy Churchill from New Mexico at the conference. Thinking it was a mistake, she quickly Googled and discovered another dentist shared her name.

Meanwhile, in Las Cruces, N.M., Dr. Wendy Churchill had also Googled her name and discovered there was another Dr. Wendy Churchill.

“I saw the other Wendy, saw she was from Florida and thought, ‘I wonder if she’s coming to Orlando?’ ”

She picked up the phone and got the other Wendy’s mom, Mary Ann—the receptionist at Churchill Dentistry in Tampa.

“I probably wouldn’t have followed up right away but her mom was excited and the meeting was coming up.”

So began the e-mail exchange that prompted the two women to meet Friday at the annual meeting.

To avoid reader confusion, from here on out let’s refer to the two Wendys as Florida Wendy and New Mexico Wendy.

First, the similarities:

  • They’re both involved in organized dentistry. New Mexico Wendy is an alternate delegate and president-elect of the New Mexico Dental Association; Florida Wendy is a delegate for the Florida Dental Association.
  • They’re both from the same generation. New Mexico Wendy was born in 1970, Florida Wendy in 1971.
  • They both have one sibling.
  • They’re both married to men named Chris.
  • More specifically: They’re both married to men named Chris, who are 8 years their senior.
  • They both like birds. Florida Wendy counts the blue heron and belted Kingfisher as her favorites; New Mexico Wendy prefers the robins and bluebirds from her childhood in Kansas and now enjoys the roadrunners in her current state.

Not everything’s the same. Florida Wendy is a D.M.D. (Temple University School of Dentistry), New Mexico Wendy a D.D.S. (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.) Florida Wendy was born a Churchill; New Mexico Wendy married one.

The biggest difference is the roads they took to becoming doctors.

Florida Wendy, who has been in practice for more than 13 years, knew dentistry was her calling when she was 12. That’s when she got her braces and was inspired by the good experience at her orthodontist.

My parents always told me, “Don’t be the nurse, be the doctor. And I always liked working with my hands.”

New Mexico Wendy first considered nursing but changed her mind when she realized she’d have to use needles. She was a year into hygiene school when she found out that hygienists perform injections too. She got over it, completed her program and decided to teach. Instead she went back to school—this time to be a dentist—and has been in practice for six years. She currently works at La Clinica da Familia Inc. in Anthony, N.M.

The two women hit it off right away and plan to stay in touch through e-mail and possibly at future dental meetings.

“I’m a Christmas card person; I hang on to people,” New Mexico Wendy said.

“I think it worked because we’re both outgoing people,” said Florida Wendy. “I’m used to being the one who approaches people, and she approached me!