Sue Yoon Lee, DMD, ’09, alumna of A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH), tells us about her journey to a career as chief dental officer at a community health center (CHC).
Q: Tell us about your career. What are you doing now?
A: I am the chief dental officer at Community Health Center of Snohomish County in Everett, Washington. I started as a staff dentist with this organization right out of residency nine years ago. I still practice clinical dentistry, but also love the administrative side of being part of a large health center.
Q: What attracted you to ATSU-ASDOH?
A: I knew that the University had a strong commitment to excellence and a unique mission in producing clinicians who are able to connect with their patients and do more than just fix teeth.
Q: How do you serve the underserved in your work?
A: Over 80 percent of our health center patients are on Medicaid, and we continuously develop outreach programs to connect with patients that face barriers to getting into our clinics.
Q: How did your education at ATSU prepare and inspire you to work with the underserved?
A: The fourth-year dental clinical rotations at health centers across the nation helped expose me to a career path within dentistry that I knew I would find rewarding for the long term.
Q: What do you love about working at a CHC?
A: I love that it is truly meaningful work that positively impacts others and allows me to fulfill my original goals in pursuing dentistry.
Q: What are you most proud of in your work?
A: I am incredibly proud of our school-based sealant program that we have significantly expanded in the past few years. It is a lot of fun working with second graders, getting their first permanent molars sealed up to prevent cavities and helping families connect with further dental care if need be.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: I hope to expand and develop my team of providers to their highest potential, so that we can most effectively provide quality care for our patients, while having a lot of fun at it.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a similar career path?
A: My advice would be to focus on the positive, be open and willing to try new things, and be reliable and consistent in your actions. Those traits were what opened different opportunities for me along the way, allowing me to step into my current role.