FOR HEATHER CROCKETT-MILLER, DENTISTRY IS ALL ABOUT HELPING OTHERS — WHETHER HEALING HOMELESS VETERANS OR GETTING YOUNG GIRLS INTERESTED IN SCIENCE.
WHEN I ENTERED COLLEGE, I knew I wanted a career in health care. I developed an interest in psychology, and my senior year I wrote my thesis on dental anxiety. It’s amazing how much my psychology background helps me in my daily work as a dentist.
Losing my father while I was in dental school was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I was very close to my dad, and I knew he would want me to nish strong. That helped me push through dental school, even though it was tough.
I’ve had great mentors. My mom — who took me on my rst mission trip to Mexico as a child and made sure we volunteered as a family at the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas — instilled a foundation of service to others.
I have found the most fulfillment working with undeserved populations. I’ve worked on an Indian reservation, in prisons, on a mobile dental coach and now at a community health center. I’ve also participated in mission trips to Honduras and Haiti.
Every year my health center participates in an event called “Stand Down,” in which we provide free dental care to homeless veterans. I remember once extracting a decayed root tip, and the patient thanked me and asked, “Why do you care about us poor folk?” I thanked him for his service. It was yet another reminder why I’m so passionate about public-health dentistry.
I love to dance! I was a professional NFL cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals for two seasons. I’m also a “Science Cheerleader” — former and current NFL and NBA cheerleaders who have careers in science. We participate in events throughout the year encouraging young girls to pursue careers in science.
My patients keep me passionate about dentistry. It sounds clichéd, but I really enjoy creating new smiles and eliminating patients’ dental pain.
“I remember once extracting a decayed root tip, and the patient, a homeless veteran, thanked me and asked, ‘Why do you care about us poor folk?’ ”
Dr. Crockett-Miller, 38, is chief dental o cer at Community Health Center Inc. in Middletown, Connecticut — one of the largest such centers
in the country, with 13 locations and more than 200 points of service. A member of this year’s 40 Under 40 (see next issue), she lives in Manchester, Connecticut, with her husband and infant son.