Top 25 Women in Dentistry 2017
“With my young patients, I hope they develop excellent life long oral health habits, recognizing the connection between oral health and overall health,” she says. “In my 15 years being a dentist, I have seen an increased value given to oral health as a function of overall health and I hope to continue to see access to oral health care for all as a priority to allow the establishment of a dental home for everyone.”Dr. Karen Foster is an educator and pediatric dentist who strives to share her knowledge of oral health with patients, parents, team members and other dental professionals while simultaneously working to serve as a role model for those interested in a career within the dental industry. She heard her calling early in life, specifically after writing a report on a local dentist at 8 years old. As someone who works with kids, finding her passion early on helps her connect with her patients and see that kids have big dreams at an early age, and their fervor to achieve them runs deep. Foster is able to then use that connection to educate patients and help them develop the best habits young.
Dr. Foster started her practice from scratch, and while that came with its own hurtles and challenges over the years, she’s proud of how it’s grown and the success she’s found within the realm of small businesses. To her, it’s gratifying to go out within the dental community and share her experiences as well as advocate for improvements benefitting patients as well as the dental profession.
Dr. Foster also serves the dental community as an educator and she’s the first to say she’s learned as many new lessons as she’s taught.
“Innovation is embracing new ways of doing things,” she says. “I am always open to learning new techniques. As a dental educator since 2004, I have come to appreciate the importance of research to identify and instruct as to a ‘best practices’ approach when treating special needs patients. By surveying fourth-year dental students before, then after, their rotation through the special needs clinic, my colleagues and I identified needed curriculum changes.”
Dr. Foster is able to relate to her patients thanks to common ground and her own personal challenges. Since the end of 2012 she has been fighting the joint damaging effects of psoriatic arthritis, a chronic condition she works to overcome every day.
“Marketing gurus often tell you to humanize yourself to your patients and potential patients—I guess I am taking that advice to heart; I am a medical patient,” she shares. “The knowledge I have gained through this journey as a medical patient has made me better able to work with patients who have dietary issues as well as other health issues.”
As a woman, she is confident in her skills and isn’t afraid to challenge stereotypes, specifically those that categorize her as a “female dentist” or “young dentist.” Instead of letting herself be boxed into those stereotypical roles throughout her journey she has sought out mentors who would guide and encourage constant development as a practitioner as well as a member of the dental community.
Check out more of the amazing women in dentistry HERE!