The Art and Science of Dentistry

Paul Yates, Class of 2020, Shares His Career Journey from Engineer to Dentist

January 28, 2020

Growing up in a low-income, single-parent household in South Carolina, TCDM 4th year dental student Paul Yates found the inspiration and drive within his family, community and the Boy Scouts to pursue engineering as an undergraduate.

But after college, he made a discovery that would lead him to switch career paths. “I quickly realized that engineers don’t get a lot of human interaction,” says Paul. His girlfriend—now wife—suggested he shadow a dentist, and Paul was hooked. “I’m pursuing dentistry because it’s a perfect career for an engineer who actually enjoys being around people,” says the fourth-year student. “Dentistry is a great blend of medicine, engineering, art, and science.”

Paul chose TCDM for its emphasis on and access to cuttingedge technology, so he can provide patients the best options for their care. He recalls one of his first digitally planned surgical cases, where, with the help of a faculty member, Paul planned two dental implants and a stent that, in the end, gave the patient fixed, rigid teeth to bite down in back. “The outcome was just as we had planned it,” said Paul, adding that he was heavily involved in the entire process. “It changed the course of my career.”

Now, as he applies to residencies and considers his options, he sees himself always striving to innovate solutions for patients. “When technology becomes the standard in dentistry, and it will, I will be prepared wherever I go,” he says, noting that his Touro education has also imbued him with the critical thinking skills needed in a rapidly changing field. “There will be times we have to improvise solutions. This is where the proper education is critical. It takes years to be an overnight success, as Steve Jobs says, and it’s the desire to continue studying after a long day in the clinic that separates the pack.”