Alumni spotlight on the Kellys

Alumni spotlight on the Kellys

HEXS alumni Sam and Rebecca Kelly share their work experiences and reflect on lessons learned during their time at WOU.

Sam and Rebecca Kelly both graduated from WOU in 2009. Sam with a degree in Exercise Science and Rebecca with one in Health Promotion. Sam went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry from Tufts. He is now an Associate Dentist at Oak Park Dental. Rebecca became a Family Nurse Practitioner after earning an M.S. in Nursing from East Carolina University. She now works at Salem Wellness Clinic and Bella Rose MediSpa.

So you’re both in the medical field now. Did you always know what you wanted to do?

Rebecca: Yes and no. When I first started my undergrad training, I knew I was going to be a nurse. From the age of 15, I started volunteering at my local hospital’s emergency room. Medicine piqued my interest. I fell in love with the opportunity to help and serve others, to make a positive impact, and to be in an environment that always changes.

After I finished my bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion, I knew I had to get back to the medical field. I decided I would go to graduate school and found an alternate entry FNP program. It was the perfect opportunity for me to become a nurse and work as a nurse while I finished my masters as an FNP.

Sam: I always had Dentistry in my mind but wasn’t always sure it was what I really wanted. My grandpa was a dentist and my uncle is an Oral Surgeon so I was exposed to dentistry from an early age. As I went through my undergrad program at WOU and was able to take my dental prerequisites, I found I really enjoyed the sciences, specifically those that had to do with the human body. As I began to shadow and speak with dentists, I found that I could use my interest in science to help others.

What does a typical day at work look like?

Rebecca: I work in a primary care wellness center that also has a MediSpa in the building. I see patients for everything from chronic illness, to weight loss, to Botox and fillers.

It’s such a fun environment to be in because I get the best of both worlds – helping individuals manage their chronic ailments, but then having fun with women in the spa.

Sam: A typical day for me starts at 6:40 a.m. with a quick meeting to prepare the office for the day ahead that starts at 7. Each day is different, dealing with the challenges that each patient presents and determining the best course of treatment. Throughout the day, I provide dental care for patients that includes routine exams, fillings, crowns, dentures, root canal therapy, extractions, preparing patients for dental implants, and various other treatment options.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?

Rebecca: The best part is changing people’s lives – whether it’s just listening to their needs, helping them feel beautiful in their skin, or coaching them on making healthy lifestyle changes that will improve their overall health. Working in that kind of positive environment has always been the best aspect of my career.

My least favorite part is being on call. I have only been practicing for 3 ½ years and still feel very new. Getting woken up in the middle of the night to triage a patient and make life-altering medical decisions still causes me some stress.

Sam: I also like helping people. I enjoy working with them to help accomplish their oral health goals, improving their smiles and their overall wellbeing.

What can be challenging is encountering people that have a great for dental care, but – for one reason or another – choose to do the bare minimum or only seek help when they are in pain.

How did you gain relevant work experience?

Rebecca: Most of my experience was from on-the-job training. After starting college, I obtained my CNA certificate. I worked as a CNA for a few months and then met a nurse practitioner who wanted me to work at her practice. So I worked as a medical assistant while finishing my undergrad.

Sam: Prior to dental school, I made sure to spend enough time shadowing dentists to feel comfortable with my decision to join the profession. I even got a job at the front desk in a dental clinic to learn more about the day-to-day of a dental practice.

How did your time at WOU help prepare you?

Rebecca: My undergrad degree in Health Promotion has been extremely useful in my practice. In nursing and medical school, there is a lack of nutrition education provided. I’ve relied on what I learned in my undergrad classes almost as much from my nursing program.

Sam: I developed many life skills from my classes and from being on the basketball team. These experiences made me more well-rounded and helped me get into dental school. My course load at WOU was enjoyable and helped me develop a love for learning that continues to be important even after finishing my formal education.

What advice do you have for current students or recent grads?

Rebecca: My advice to current students is to find your passion and turn it into a career. You really have to get yourself into the community and explore different career opportunities. I’m grateful for all my past experiences that have led me to where I am today.

If you are a recent grad, explore different careers. I’ve had the opportunity to work in so many different faucets of healthcare and I’m now in the career I hope to be in forever. I literally have my dream job and I love going to work each day!

Sam: If you know what you want to do, don’t let anything stop you from obtaining your goals. There may be a traditional path that exists, but that is not the only path. Continue to learn and improve upon your skills.