The Best of Two Generations: Modern Dentistry, Traditional Values

Catherine E. Zimmermann, Touro College of Dental Medicine ‘20

May 19, 2020
Catherine Zimmerman

Catherine is part of the first class to graduate from Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM), the newest dental school in the country founded to harness advancements in digital dentistry for the good of the community. With school’s campus and clinic closed due to coronavirus, the 103 graduates of the TCDM’s Inaugural Class of 2020 will celebrate their historic commencement virtually May 19 before beginning residencies or joining private practices across the country.

Next Step:
Private Practice, Burlington, WI

Starting with a new name and the practice’s first ever website, Catherine Zimmermann is bringing a new generation’s knowledge to her father’s forty-three years of expertise and close relationships with patients in the family’s small-town Wisconsin community.

“We’re doing a ton of upgrading,” says Catherine, from quarantine with her parents in Burlington, WI, as she and her father await the practice’s reconstruction. “We’re bringing in digital technology—a 3D radiology system, digital X-ray sensors, upgrading to electronic charting. We’re building an online presence with a website and social media. It’s a lot, but we’re both figuring it out together. My dad is more than ready to jump into all this new technology with me.”

For decades, her father relied on word of mouth from grateful patients to build his well-respected practice. But he was ready and eager for the next step. So, with Catherine graduating from one of the most technologically advanced dental schools in the country, father and daughter eagerly jumped into the future, beginning with a rebranding, from Henry E. Zimmermann DDS to Burlington Dental Health. “The name was inspired by Touro Dental Health,” explains Catherine. “It reflects an understanding that your mouth isn’t separate from the body but is an important part of overall health.”

Touro College of Dental Medicine prepared Catherine well to build a bridge from traditional dentistry to digital dentistry. Because TCDM doesn’t have post-graduate specialty programs, she and her classmates were able to treat more complex cases than most dental students. “Touro prepared me really well for my future,” she says. “I got amazing experience in the clinic. I had incredibly supportive faculty always there to push my knowledge and inspire me in the clinic. They, as well as my classmates, made me excited to learn something new about dentistry every day.”

At TCDM, she was involved in planning the school’s first Smiles for Veterans, a day of free oral healthcare for veterans, military personnel and their families, and she is eager to create something similar at Burlington Dental Health, looking for ways to give back to the community of 10,000 people that her father has served for almost half a century.

For now, during quarantine, she is using her time wisely to educate herself on electronic marketing and social media as Burlington Dental Health builds an online presence. She and her dad are overseeing the complete reconfiguration of the practice’s physical space, everything from new paint and flooring to a new electronic medical record.    

Her dad jokes that he is ready to retire—and has already picked out a tee time—but she knows he’ll stay around to continue mentoring her and enjoy the father-daughter practice. “All his patients keep telling me that I have big shoes to fill,” Catherine says. “My Dad’s an incredible dentist, always there for people. He really cares about people, and that’s a value that I’ve always admired. I hope my patients come to feel the same about me as they do about him.”