Jessica Ann Rickert, D.D.S. is the first female American Indian Dentist in the world. Dr. Rickert attended the University of Michigan from 1968 to 1975. In 1975 she established a private dental practice. From 1975 to 1982, she was the director of the dental clinic at the Children’s Aid Society, a private agency for foster-care children in Detroit; there she initiated programs in preventive dentistry and orthodontia as well as providing general dental services. From 2007 to 2010, she has provided general dental services for the Department of Corrections of the State of Michigan. In 2011, she provided general dentistry in the Michigan Community Dental Clinics on a full-time basis. Currently, she is a clinical dentist at the Family Health Care Organization in Michigan. Dr. Jessica A. Rickert treats each patient with compassion, confidence, competence and kindness.
VIDEO - DUwHF #1268 - Jessica Rickert
AUDIO - DUwHF #1268 - Jessica Rickert
Howard: It is just a huge huge honor for me today to be podcast interviewing Dr. Jessica Ann. Richert DDS who is the first female American Indian dentist in the world she attended the University of Michigan from 68 to 75 in 75 she established a private dental practice from 75 to 82 she was the director of the dental clinic at the Children's Aid Society a private agency for foster care children in Detroit there she initiated programs in preventive dentistry in orthodontia from oh seven to ten she was provided general dental services for the Department of Corrections of the state of Michigan in 2011 she provided dentistry in the Michigan community dental clinics on a full-time basis currently she is a clinical dentist at the family health care organization of Michigan she treats each patient with compassion confidence competence and kindness she served on the Michigan urban Indian Health Council Board of Directors and established a dental clinic at the Detroit urban Indian health clinic in 79 most recently she also served on the task force to establish a dental clinic on the reservation of the Grand Traverse band at Chippewa Ottawa Indians and she has served on the board of directors of the Society of American Indian dentists she's an active member of the American Dental Association having chaired the Oakland County Dental society's speakers bureaus she served on the Michigan Dental Association's Public Relation committee a past president of the resort district Dental Society she remains active in presenting dental education programs and area schools and volunteers with a Give Kids a Smile program she attended the University of Michigan. So I mean your your your bio goes on forever and ever and ever, congratulations on being I mean everybody remembers that the first man who stood on the moon tell us about your journey how did you become the first woman American Indian dentist?
Jessica: Well when I was young I'm the oldest of seven children and I was raised in Wyoming Michigan which is near the Grand river in Michigan and as a matter of fact that's where the Potawatomi lived ten thousand years ago they lived on the Grand River and the Kalamazoo rivers in Western Michigan and so that that is where my family is still and when I was young our family doctor took an interest in me and he suggested that I consider nursing so he invited me into his office a private pediatricians office and I visited him and while he was taking care of his patients I was looking over his anatomy and physiology books and he was talking to me and he said Jess Jessica I I think actually you could possibly be a doctor and so once he said that to me I thought well why not so I took the advanced classes in a small class B School District Wyoming public schools I took the advanced math advanced science and I really enjoyed it and I talked to my high school counselor and I said I want to be a doctor and he was pretty surprised he was pretty shocked and he said well well the University of Michigan has a medical school you could apply there and and good luck to you so then I took the College Board's exam and I applied to the University of Michigan and I was the only student from well Wyoming public schools to be accepted at the University of Michigan that year so then I went to the University of Michigan and I thought I would be a chemistry major which I really enjoyed and at the University of Michigan they have the School of Medicine School of Dentistry School of Pharmacy nursing school so I visited those schools and I became most interested in dentistry in medicine and one day when I was at the dental school there was a dental student casting a gold crown and it just totally intrigued me that this beautiful metal this precious metal could be used to restore a patient to form and function for years and years and years and years and so in the end I decided dentistry with a career that I would really enjoy and I entered a brand new dental school building at the University of Michigan and night in the fall of 1971.
Howard: So where would what city did you say you were born in?
Jessica: I actually was born in Denver Colorado but my family moved back to why Wyoming Michigan which is just south of Grand Rapids Michigan.
Howard: Okay that's where my brain was messed up because every time you said Wyoming I thought did she just say she was from I thought she was for a mission so there's actually a Wyoming Michigan?
Jessica: Yes it's a small suburb south of Grand Rapids yes
Howard: and Grand Rapids was the first city in the world to adjust the fluoride level January 21 1940s I think 45 let's find out when did Grand when did Grand Rapids add fluoride and then they have a monument a museum it was a gala siècle for January 25th 1945 Grand Rapids which and you so how far away were you from my Grand Rapids?
Jessica: Well when I was growing up Wyoming actually was farm country so we had our own well which did not have fluoride in it but when we would go to Grand Rapids for functions and things that water had fluoride in it and the caries rate in Grand Rapids general population fell dramatically year by year by year until as you know the other communities in the country decided that it would be wise to add fluoride to their water so are they good they have a monument down right by the Grand River runs through the main heart of Grand Rapids and they made a monument and they have a sculpture it almost looks like flowing water in the sculpture and they about that was a public health success story in Michigan.
Howard: I wish it was a movie because I think what the public health dentist you know there's 10 specialties recognized by dentistry and and the orthodontist and ended on us then Perry now say they get all the attention but the public health my gosh specially your baby of seven kids I was the third child of seven kids were you know and I I think the public health dentists are amazing but when they do this Grand Rapids a public health dentist was so genius he knew the nature of humans and humans are a very complicated creature and so what he did is when he announced he's gonna turn on Monday morning at eight o'clock and and then of course all the crazies came out and they were allergic reactions and emergency rooms it was just drama central and the mayor kept wanting this dentist to answer go public or hold the news guy and he just disappeared and finally after a day or two they said you gotta go Pope so he went public and they start telling all the sudden he goes exactly I haven't turned it on yet I knew this would happen so everybody that ran in the emergency room is crazy and I'm gonna go ahead and start it tomorrow I mean just I mean how how genius was that to understand the nature of human beings at that alone but you know what I am we have deep roots I live in Phoenix Arizona I was born or raised in Kansas for then when I graduated dental school Kansas City I moved out here in Arizona in 87 and the legendary dentist out here is George blue spruce who was actually the first American Indian dentist male and I am I just drove up and had dinner with Jack Dillonberg the retired Dean of the dental school but that was Jack and George's dream was to get more Native American Indians I mean Jack I remember Jack telling me this 20 years ago he goes he goes um why don't the Navajos go to dental school and work on the Navajos why are we sending up public health people to do this I want you know I went alders are some like nineteen tribes in Arizona he says I want their people to begin so how was that part how was your dream Jack Dillionberg's dream George Blue Spruce how was that moving along?
Jessica: Well we do have several programs going on the Society of American Indian dentists has been out reaching to college students and dental students trying to encourage them and it is really difficult because it's over the whole nation including Alaska so that's a huge geographic area and the number of American Indian dentists is very small right now we believe there's a hundred and seventy-five and in order for there to be parity with the American population there should be 3,000 American Indian dentists and we believe there are 175 so if you have 175 dentist who are trying to outreach to the American Indian youth it's just a huge job we do outreach to them but it's a very hard job. I believe the only two retired American Indian dentists are Dr. George blue spruce and myself I believe that's true I could be wrong about that but most of them are quite a bit younger than we are so we don't have a legacy yet in the Society of American Indian dentists and that's another thing that makes it kind of hard. So we are still out reaching and we have lots of help the Henry Schein I better not start naming our supporters because I don't want to forget one and I don't have my book with me right here but we do have lots of supporters from the dental community including the American Dental Society.
Howard: I want to ask you specifically when we're talking about this you you said you know it's a big country including Alaska and Alaska seems to be significant because even in the name the Society of American Indian does an said or AIAN and it stands for American Indian Alaskan Natives why is it just not American Indians white why is there why is Alaskan Natives and to differentiate is that special different what's the thinking behind that?
Jessice: When we started the Society of American Indian dentists I believe it was in 1983 there were no Alaskan native dentists so we just are Dr. George Bluespruce and us talked about it and we decided to use American Indian dentists because it was just the lower states that were involved well then we now have Alaska Native dentists and they asked us to use that term so we do we didn't put it in our society because that was already chartered but the Alaskan Natives preferred that he called Alaska Natives so we...
Howard: and do the American Indians Native American Indian do they is they like the term American Indian?
Jessica: They have accepted it most of the treaties use the term American Indian and most of the outreaches through the BIA Bureau of American Indians and so on they use the term American Indian American Indian so we dentists have accepted it because it gets tricky otherwise but if you ask individuals like myself what I prefer I prefer to be called Anishinabe and Anishinaabe Anishinaabe in the Algonquian language means original people and that's what we called ourselves the people that lived around the Great Lakes we found ourselves the Anishinabe so we would prefer to be called back but it just gets so confusing for everybody that we've accepted American Indian.
Howard: That so Anishinabe means original people so um so is the so how is the Society of American Indian Dentist working to attract more American Indian Alaska Natives to dentistry?
Jessica: Right now I'm working with the Seneca Nation and the universe University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine they have what's called a gateway program the Gateway program accepts college students on their campus for a week in the summer and they actually go to the dental school and they do things on paper dots they take impressions on type of Dawn's they actually sit in a dentist's chair and do things simulating what it might be like to be a dentist and in the Gateway program they talk about how to prepare for the dental aptitude tests when I was going to college probably Dr. George Bluespruce as well nobody really told us to prepare for the College Board's nobody told us to prepare for the dental aptitude test they just told us it was a requirement we just went and took it so we try to tell them how to prepare for the dental aptitude test look over what they're studying as undergraduates and say hey no you really need to take math courses up to the 300 level or just give them advice so that's one way again that has been difficult because we have people that want to come let's say from Alaska and there's no charge at all for the program and the housing and the food and things but we so far were not able to cover travel so that prohibits seems to prohibit some students who want to come from being able to come and now we also through Delta Dental in Michigan we are doing an outreach to the 12 Michigan tribes to high school students so we're trying to form pre-dental clubs not officially structured but just trying to get them interested in dentistry and then in the sixth grade we're working on the stem programs to include dentistry and their stem offerings and the University of Nebraska they developed a poster series called the power of role models and this is geared towards American Indian Alaska Native students and it's not just dentistry it's all the professions such as an astronaut atheologist medical doctors pharmacy social workers veterinarians lawyers any American Indian like myself who was able to be successful they made up individual posters and this is actually free anybody can download it you can download it it's not just for American Indians but anybody can download it for free.
Howard: What website to download it for free?
Jessica: I will have to look that one up it's through the University of Nebraska can I possibly email that to you later?
Howard: Sure sure
Howard: Okay yeah I can email you those links and so and then we're trying to have a reading readiness program through Delta Dental and this reading your readiness is going to try to link excellent dental health for four and five year olds so that they will be able to concentrate on reading speaking and annunciation, pronunciation and things like that because as you know speech depends a great deal on healthy teeth and so we're trying to have a reading readiness program for first graders this is all in the preliminary stages and I have been helping them with this the other thing that we're going to try to do is make the patient education brochures which Delta Dental puts out we're trying to write them in the Anishinabe language we're trying to write them in the Algonquian language will use the same graphics they have they have a coloring book about healthy teeth and a good diet things like that visiting the dentist we're going to take that same coloring book and we're going to translate it into the Anishinaabe language I personally am NOT an expert in the Anishinaabe language so I will be working with the Michigan tribes probably the Saginaw Chippewa tribe to make that translation and when we get that translation done we'll make it available to our Great Lakes I mean it would be available to the entire nation but the tribes which spoke the Algonquian language are around the Great Lakes so we are making efforts but to reiterate I'm only one person and Dr. Bluespruce is only one person it is really hard for us to reach out like we should be doing and the reason I know it's really hard is sadly in the whole United States currently there are 14 American Indian Alaska Native dental students mostly in the dental schools out west 14 that's very dismal.
Howard: and what do you what do you attribute that?
Jessica: The undergraduates who probably do decide maybe I'll go to dental school they're not ready, sometimes they're not ready they haven't had true mentorship to get them ready I mean as you know you can't go a week before the College Board and say whoa what should I study so I can get a good grade on their college boards you have to start in the sixth grade and do it so that's there they're not ready that's probably the main issue they have the brain power and they have the desire but they just haven't had the honor classes the advanced classes workshops things like that that we're trying to help with the Gateway program but it's just a start.
Howard: That is interesting, so how is the are you noticing kids taking to this program?
Jessica: Yes we the Gateway program that Dr. Solomon and I did in New York we have asked those attendees to tell their brothers and sisters tell their cousins go back to their families and tribal headquarters and let everybody know there that dentistry is welcoming them and they're able to do it and to come out to this gateway program and at least to see what it's all about so the we're spreading the word that way and I'm going to be going to talk to the Michigan oral health coalition on this Friday and I'm going to talk to them about that so we're trying to publicize it yes.
Howard: That's amazing but you know it's so much of success a lot of its luck being in the right place the right time all these different things but mentors is so huge and the first thing that you mentioned was your childhood physician and the first thing that happened to me was when I you know I was shy but I asked my next-door neighbor if I could go to work with him he's a dentist Kenny Anderson in fact he's still practicing and I knew he'd say no and I was shocked me so well of course when you want to go and oh my gosh so just mentoring a young kid and I cringe sometimes when your friend's house and the adults are all sitting around talking you see this little two or three or four year old kid starving to join the conversation and when I was little the adults would always say you know children should be seen not heard right and nowadays you see adults realizing that hey you and me talking about whatever we're talking about isn't nearly as important is this starving three-year-old let's let's entertain what-what-what is little granddaughter thinking so I know that that is so neat. So what is so you've seen big changes in your life and the realities of Native American Indians American Indians Alaskan Indians, how was that journey going is is it progressing fast as you'd like slower you know what are your challenges today would you say?
Jessica: Well it is progressing slower but at the last Society of American Indian dentists we which was in Oklahoma I was able to have my photo taken with the youngest American Indian death dentist who is Dr. Susan Sergey she's an Alaskan native and they actually put that picture in the American Dental Association news because I'm the oldest and she's the youngest.
Howard: and women never like to tell their age so how were you giving away your age?
Jessica: I'm 29 plus, I'm 69 I don't mind if people know how old I am I have three adult children and they're fabulous and I have wonderful in-law children 11 grandkids I mean I have to be pretty old so if they know I'm 69 that's fine.
Howard: Yeah do you like being at this time of her life as opposed to one where you're in college are you enjoying these years or do you wish they'd invented anti-aging you go back to 21?
Jessica: I'll tell you dentistry has been extremely good to me I enjoy college that was just fascinating and I have many friends that I made in college and I did enjoy my dental school I will say when I went to dental school in the fall of 71 they were not welcoming me they were very reluctant to have us women in the class they didn't like it but there were some black people in the class myself five other women and there were several Jewish men and those students became my cohorts we hung together and we're still friends to this day I see them several times a year and they come to visit me I go to visit them so having those cohort cohorts certainly helped makes a big difference and when I had private practice I think that's an ideal career for everybody but especially for women because having the three children I was able to adjust my schedule fairly easily I mean you do have to be in the office and you can't just run off whenever you want but if something big was coming up with the children I could schedule around it to a certain extent and so as a working mother I thought dentistry was almost perfect as a career and now that I'm retired and I've taken on this new role trying to work with Delta Dental and Henry Schein and other other in the dental industry to recruit specifically American Indians and Alaska Natives into dentistry I find it very rewarding so I had to say all along the way I rejoice because I'm very blessed.
Howrd: So you know a lot of them you know I I can't be an expert on being a woman dentist I can't but that's a whole nother issue I do know from just reading on the message boards at Dentaltown a lot of women they struggle because the bottom line is you know we live in a society and a lot of women do more raising of the children and a lot of them you know they want to be an amazing mother and but they also went to dental school and they want to be a dentist do you think it's more challenging to be an amazing mother and an amazing dentist if you own your own practice or if you say you know I don't want to wear all those hats and I'd rather go work for someone else a DSO public health whatever do you how should she any advice on how to wrap her mind around that decision?
Jessica: Well when I graduated there actually were not a lot of public health opportunities so that time I would say private practice was considered the normal route that dentists would take there are a lot more public health opportunities in the last five to ten years and I certainly can appreciate the fact that if you just go in at your appointed time and leave at your appointed time and yeah you might be on call but maybe one week in a month or something like that that it does leave does free up your home time but because private practice was considered normal in 1975 I just went ahead and did it and I do have an amazing husband who helped with the parenting duties and supported me in my career and I did have a full-time nanny I had a full-time nanny and we had help as far as housecleaning and things like that so I can't say that I was superwoman and I did it all and I don't know if there is any superwoman out there who could do it all so to give up something in the home it can be hard for some women but you could you you are not able to do it all because both jobs like you just like you said whether you're an exceptional woman or an exceptional dentist both jobs are very demanding.
Howard: I call this dentistry uncensored so I don't like to talk about anything that everybody agrees on what would or is there anything uncensored that you would like to discuss on this platform when you're talking to a lot of dentist that the things that you wish they knew more about Native American Native Americans or do you have any pet peeves on how you find people don't understand certain things what would could you share with you know we both share something extremely in common, you said that one of the first things you talk about on your when you went into the Hall of Fame that you loved dentistry because you love your colleagues and then let me try to get some of the words were you know you you're working on people that are you say dentists are smart talented decent honest always interesting and we get to share our professional lives with these smart capable staff and all this stuff and my four boys their biggest takeaway from growing up with dad is that man dentists are cool like look at you right now classic picture you're sitting in front of a thousand books and my boys I you know my boys will tell you that whenever they went to daddy's friend's house that were dentists they saw what's behind you all these books and dentist are just really highly educated people and my gosh they said then you go to another house and they're debating something about say I'm history and they're confusing World War two with World War one they don't even know what they're talking about but dentists are just cool because when all your friends have eight years of college it just wiseins up the conversation so you're talking with a lot of highly educated cool smart boys and girls what do you think they they don't understand the most about life as an American Indian?
Jessica: Well I just want to go back to one thing and that's when you talked about being a exceptional dentist and an exceptional mother I did have the support of the resort district dental society at that time they were all men I was the only woman in the society they did support me and when I would call with questions or I would ask for them to cover for a weekend or you know something they always would run to help me they were glad to help me that was a lot different than in dental school where I really didn't feel like the professor's wanted to help me I think they wanted that we felt like they didn't want us there but when they became my colleagues then they really did help me. Well I do have a pet peeve and there's a lot of editors of dental journals and dental magazines and the American Dental Association Journal Michigan Dental Association Journal they kind of don't like me right now because every month when I get the journal I do a very basic non-scientific thing I go through and I count the white faces and then I felt the brown and black faces and I just did it 225 Caucasian faces and 44 darker faces now...
Howard: For which magazine, just in Michigan?
Jessica: So yeah this was actually this was the University of Michigan alumnus magazine the...
Howard: and you called it 2225 Caucasian faces in 44 Brown and what you say...
Jessica: Brown and black
Howard: Brown and black faces
Howard: Well I actually own a couple of magazines I had dental town and ortho town and I'll never ever forget in my life because you just you're thinking of a root canal a filling a crown you're just not being able to comprehend all the same time and I was I think I was lecturing at a dental school in new jersey and this little bitty girl walks up to me and I says and and she has my magazine her hand and she opens it up she showed me the editorial board she goes they're all white male and then she flips the magazine right in my face and turns out I walk back and I just thought wow so the first thing I did is I picked it up and looked at it and I'd never even I never even look for it's like I haven't looked under my bed for a mouse you know I mean I just haven't I haven't looked I immediately walked out there and got on the phone and it's been very challenging I told myself I said look we're not doing this again dentistry is not all white male faces I said we got to mix this up and and it's tough because of what I just said a lot of the super successful women champions at dentistry when they go home they also got to put on their mom hat and then I and then they'll tell me they'll say even though I'm a dentist and have this million dollar practiced all that my husband's a lawyer and he's an orthopedic surgeon he just is busy and it's just so it's very challenging but then it's something but anyway but go on.
Jessica: So anyway there's a dental companies and one of them sent out this really nice merchandising thing and I'm not going to name the company or the merchandise because then you'll know who it is and it was a graphic not a cartoon but a graphic so there were people in it all the graphics were of Caucasian so I actually called the president of the company and I said why you're having to graphic I'll send you a brown crayon due to color in a third of them and he said oh it wasn't available to us we're very limited on the images that are available for the dental industry to use in advertising I mean there's what can I say to him you're you're a fool I mean that is not true they can they can get any imager they want.
Howard: I did notice I did notice this this year the first time you know you sent someone on iPhone you send him a thumbs up well they just had a thumb and I being Irish man I did anything he was white it to me it looks yellow and I got my first one and it was a black thumbs up and then and so slow has changed can can I ask you some more controversial just ones in the headline news my favorite waste of time is the NFL and I know the Washington Redskins that names been in the news all the time what your take on, I'm out with the Arizona Cardinals but what is your thoughts on the whole Washington Redskins name?
Jessica: We don't like it we don't like it my face my hair my skin that's not your costume there's not there's no other way to put it my hair my face and my skin are not your costume we don't like it and there have been Native Americans that have protested spoken out against that I was trying to think it could be the University of Illinois but I'm not positive but I think they have a chief riding in on a horse so we were letting them know that we don't like that because the chief that's riding in on the horse was whiter than you are was more Caucasian than you are who is it college kid obviously but so their answer to that was to try to get a Native American to ride in on the horse it was a college but I can't remember which one it is so we don't like it.
Howard: and even when you go to Europe they don't even like it because I mean how do how do people say Europe white people I mean the difference between a Swede and a Portuguese Spaniard Italian even in Italy northern Italy you'll find blondes with blue eyes but the southern half you know the Sicily right now is a little island but Sicily used to be the whole lower half I mean they're significantly and they're very dark people so we're Greeks so I'm so when they said American Indians are red I never saw Red or Chinese remember when we were little was there were white black yellow and red it's like the only one they got white right was black yeah there's not white yellow and red I've still not seen white yellow and red so any other issues that you see in the news that what were they what Peter Griffin you said that caught on that cartoon what really grinds my gears what else grinds your gears?
Jessica: Well I there are so many misconceptions from the general population for Native Americans and they will ask questions like do you pay taxes well I own my own home my own - my own building when I had a private practice of course we pay taxes I mean they ask questions that are just nonsensical so if they would get to know Native Americans on their own then they would find out that we live lives just like them we have bills to pay we have tragedies we have triumphs you know just like everybody else so not to prejudge have prejudice that is still existing it is still out there and a lot of issues but did I want to tell you something about the new white wine you want to hear about it?
Jessica: We want casinos too...
Howard: Oh the wine the whine
Jessica: So now they think we're all rich from casinos so you know when I was younger they thought we were all quote unquote dirt pork now they think we're all rich we're not all rich I appreciate what the casinos have done but most of the tribes believe me it's help but most of the tribes have used the casino monies to benefit the tribe they have elder programs where they provide heating assistance for the elders they have college scholarships for my nephews they were able to give them at that time there are desktop computers now they give them laptop computers that are accepted into a college so those are just two small examples that they're doing to benefit the entire tribe and then when things are done if they have revenue afterwards they do they do give it to their members and I'm grateful for it but we're not rich yet.
Howard: Not rich yet but say better than when you were in dental school?
Jessica: Yeah a lot better
Howard: and how was that you think affecting the tribes do you think they're you think they're happier more upbeat you know with humans usually if you see light at the end of the tunnel you can live through anything if you think you're living you know you can walk through misery if you think you're gonna get somewhere and come out ahead so so in fact in economics it blows my mind because when I got my MBA at ASU my professor you said look we we don't know what we're talking about because still the leading economic indicator is as consumer sediment I mean if the if all the consumers are scared they're not gonna buy so just the psychology of all the people matters more than anything.
Jessica: Oh that is so true I know when I was an undergraduate school I actually at that time lived probably below the poverty level but I did not feel poor I did not feel down I felt like you there's a light at the end of the tunnel I'm gonna get my degree I'm going to be successful for professional and actually the rewards of dentistry probably are way more than I had anticipated just because I didn't know professionals when I was growing up you said your son's go over to other professionals houses and they see it all blow ups or they go on trips none of that was afforded to me because my family most of them worked in factories so they were hard-working good honest people but I didn't have that exposure I have had so many more rewards traveling just everything when it comes to lifestyle from being from the profession of a dentist that I could not have anticipated nevertheless when I was an undergraduate and in dental school be popcorn for dinner I knew at the end it was going to be the light at the end of the tunnel so that is that is definitely true that's a huge motivator keep you on track and you know every time you get down with the first year dental school you're what you're closer then you're closer then you're closer so we all need hope.
Howard: On your website you have quotes early in articles I've heard about you, you quote sitting bull and I was wondering was that your childhood top favorite American Indian role model and you I you and would you accept when you were entered into the Hall of Fame it says I and your Oracle let let us put our minds and hearts together and see what kind of life we can build for our children wrote by Sitting Bull 1831 to 1890 Hunkpapa Lakota leader who led his people during years of resistance to US government he also has said I was down for saying let us behold my friends the spring has come the earth has gladly received and embraces the Sun and we shall soon see the results of their love, was he your superhero you know kids have superheroes was Sitting Bull your main superhero as a child?
Jessica: Well we did talk about him and we had stories about him and we also had stories about Chief white pigeon that is his Bachmann name is Oka ma la bimini and he is a very revered Michigan Indian.
Howard: and you're related to him you're his great-great granddaughter?
Jessica: Yeah 5th great granddaughter.
Howard: 5th great granddaughter
Jessica: Yeah so he was an Ojibwa and the Ojibwa did not leave Michigan they have they have reservations here and so they're tribes to did not leave so he's very revered there's another chief Chief Pontiac he's on the eastern side of Michigan those two names were talked about a lot and occasionally we talked about chief Tecumseh and he's from Ohio so being from Michigan we had a lot of local heroes.
Howard: Wow so um incorporated as a village in 1837 white pigeon is the oldest incorporated village in the state and was an outpost of civilization when much of the rest of the area was underdeveloped wilderness so any others although?
Jessica: No that was about it although we did have different names would come up when you go to a pow wows or something like that is it Jim Thorpe I was trying to remember who was the one who was in the Olympics we would talk about him at powwows and he would have sometimes there would be a book about him and they would he had some quotes and I don't have them in front of me but he was very popular he was more more germane to our time I mean he was before me but because he was in the Olympics in I believe it was in the Olympics in Germany in Berlin I could be wrong on that but it was it was closer to when our time frame was.
Howard: So how I'm gonna switch gears completely go but let's go back to public health like say it's the overlooked sovereign specialty recognized by the ABA I mean I mean my god how much attention is given to endodontists and orthodontist orthodontists are in the news every day. What's the status of Public Health and how have you seen Public Health work where was it when you got out of school where's it now what are the challenges for Public Health?
Jessica: Well like I said when we got out of school and they were talking about paying off dental school that they mostly talked to us about the military they did mention public health somewhat but there weren't a lot of opportunities in public health and as time went on and they started to establish FQHCs then there became more opportunities for dentists to maybe go to a rural area or some place that doesn't have dental services and work at FQHC and work off dental debt and that has been really really helpful especially in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that's brought dental care there and it's also very helpful to the dental students obviously because then they can work off their dental school debt.
Howard: and those are called FQHC...
Jessica: FQHC and that stands for federally qualified health care
and when did that come along long has that been a thing?
Jessica: Oh not real long and I probably don't really know but I would think 15 years.
Howard: So do they do do FQHC is it usually this clinics medical and a separate one for dentists or...
Jessica: No it's combined
Howard: It's combined?
Jessica: Yeah the FQHC that I worked at after I sold my private practice they had a pharmacy they had medical doctor nurse practitioner and a medical doctor there too and then they had quite a few social workers and dentistry and an eye clinic so it was all in one building and patients are those populations that it's difficult for them to get care not just the ones that you always think about the people that are below the poverty line but it's not just them there were handicapped people in wheelchairs that maybe are not treatable in a private dental office just positionally so there are also Alzheimer's patients some Alzheimer's patients are somewhat combative and they might not work in a private dental office also some alzheimer's patients and autistic children even if they're just sitting there they'll groan or make funny noises or make loud noises I mean it has nothing to do with what's happening and sometimes that's hard to deal with in the private office especially the private offices that have open operatories so at the FQHC that I worked at they had all closed operatory separate rooms and they were soundproof I mean I think only one woman was soundproof I don't know how it worked but anyway and we did take all those patients and to the best of our ability be able to take care of them occasionally we still had to refer out to a periodontist or something like that but so it's not just the patient's below the poverty line it's also the ones that are handicapped also elderly patients the nursing homes would bring a van full of patients and some had walkers just did different conditions the elderly some are very spry like the two elderly people talking now and we would treat them so it has brought dental care to understand.
Howard: but I mean you know I think I'm whenever you critique something people think that you're you're not a team player you know you just have to go along with it not say anything and and it's like my gosh you would not progress in sports or business or anything if you weren't trying to always prove I think self-improvement and listening to coaches and and being able to have someone tear up your idea or tear up your culture or tear everything up and the thing that's so challenging for America is here's Dwight d Eisenhower you know you just come back from World War two most celebrated five star general became the president he said every gun that is made every warship launched every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed those who are cold and are not clothed and he's saying that and he said that you know half a century ago and America has been at war ninety-three percent of the time that's 222 out of 239 years since 1776 the US has only been at peace for less than twenty years total since its birth and then people sit there and say well we don't have any money for a federally qualified health center well of course you don't you've been at war 222 years at a 239 years and you're not making friends over there I've lectured 50 times in other countries 50 countries and I've always taken one two three or four of my kids there and I mean what way I don't think Americans even realize they've always been a war they're they're a country that's always been at war they if 18 I'm aircraft carriers at a billion dollars apiece and the rest of the entire world has one I mean it's so there's money for public health but if your top priority is what you know the Roman Empire they had to figure this out the hard way always expanding the empire expanding expanding with borrowed money and debt back then they couldn't print new coins that coins they shaved the edges off to melt the edges to make more coins so you look at the Roman history and you just tell by the size of the coin shrinking when it finally disappeared it's very challenging to get Americans to spend money on healthcare instead of military do you agree or disagree with that?
Jessica: Well it is hard for them to spend money on health care I do agree with that so in Michigan and they I don't really know how it's entirely funded but the state of Michigan had to come up with matching funds so if a state isn't willing and states don't go to war if the state's not willing to come up with matching funds then that state is not gonna have a FQHC so I'm not sure if the local I think the county even provides the building I don't know how all funding goes all I know is we were in a County Building anyway so it takes a lot of cooperation at many levels and commitment at many levels to have a FQHC operating so is that in the forefront of the American populations mind I don't know if it I don't know that it is.
Howard: and do you ever talk to the like the CEO of the FQHC their CEO is um what is Beth Roble or anyway..
Jessica: It is Dr. Roble and I have talked to her, yes.
Howard: and it is what are her challenges?
Jessica: Well she is running the business securing the funds and getting workers it's very hard for them to get doctors dentists and pharmacists to work at the FQHC there's a shortage there's always openings any dentist could go to a FQHC and get a job tomorrow so I think that is a big challenge of hers.
Howard: and so you're talking to a quarter of our listeners are in dental school so you're talking to a lot of young babies still in dental kindergarten give him your pitched and to go to a federally qualified health center what what what do you think they should be aware of?
Jessica: Yeah I think they really should consider it and part of it is the dental school debt getting that reduced I don't know how that schedule works exactly but there were several young dentists there and then like myself when I had sold my private practice there were older dentists there and it just became a situation where the younger dentists could tell us about some new developments at the dental school or new technologies and then the older that just who had taken out thousands of teeth could mentor them on the common-sense part of Dentistry and the FQHC that I worked at they had all the modern dental equipment digital x-rays and rotary and you know all kinds of I mean it wasn't you're not out in these sticks all alone doing primitive dentistry they have the latest technology and they do we do we were able to refer out and we worked with the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in the University of Detroit School of Dentistry so we could we still at that time that used the u.s. mail we weren't able to send things electronically I don't know how that's progressed but anyway we're able to send things to them and get their ideas of what this might be here what that might be and some patients we did actually refer down to University of Michigan not very often but sometimes we did so this gives a young dentist really a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on and if they work there for two or three years to work off their dental school debt there are a lot more experienced if and when they go and open their own practice or buy into a practice so it's not exactly a quote unquote fellowship or internship but it serves the same purpose.
Howard: I think what's interesting about that the DSO's when I got out of dental schools capitation insurance there's always you know there's always the controversy of the decade or whatever and it's amazing that I'm you know like you said the the main opportunities for employment back when I got out of school in 87 was Army Navy Air Force Marines and now these DOS's have come out and there's there's fhq zur I just looked up it's only 20 years old so it's it's almost 2020 right now so that's only been around since the year 2000 there's just so many more different employment opportunities and when these older dentists complain about these dsos and these chains and all that I said well imagine you just got out of school you're a quarter million dollars in debt and your million-dollar dental office is closed Friday Saturday and Sunday you could open that thing and just put that dentists in there with one employee and you don't do that but you complain that they went and got a job at you know the government or dsos or you know anybody but you so it's easy to be a critic because you don't have to do anything and you know any you know it's easy to blow up a bridge anybody can blow up a bridge any nut job could blow up a bridge but building a bridge is very difficult and you sitting on the hillside critiquing my bridge I want to see your bridge so it's really changing times I think that times are amazing I say when I walk out dental school if you would have told me about my iPhone I would have thought you were a witch doctor from Salem and smoking the funny reefer or something I mean it's just amazing how its comes. I can't believe our hour went by that fast I was the fastest hour I've talked to anything it was there anything that you were hoping I would talk about or didn't bring up or any other topics that you're passionate about that you wish we would have discussed?
Jessica: Well I know the Society of American Indian dentists would love to mentor junior high kids so if there's any junior high kids out there that are American Indian well anybody it doesn't matter but if they would just talk to their dentist they probably get a mentor and there's also something I'd like you everybody to know and that's cultural competency for the people who are going to work with Alaska Natives American Indians and this was developed by the tribal health board at the University and also with the University of Oklahoma I will send the website to you.
Howard: What's it called again?
Jessica: cultural competency
Howard: Okay and that's a company or a website or?
Jessica: No no it's the tribal Health Board that's a consortium of tribes throughout the country.
Howard: Tribal Health Board
Jessica: and they worked with the University of Oklahoma because as you said most of the tribes are are out west and they developed this program it takes about two hours it's you step through four modules and at the end you take tests and they'll give you a certificate at the end and this helps you to understand the history of the American Indian Alaskan native their culture how you can work better in their culture how you can communicate with them they talk about historical trauma the fact that American Indians still suffer from historical trauma and how that can be rectified in your own clinic this is from a professions professional point of view so if you're a social worker nurse psychologist teacher you have a profession and you're working with American Indian Alaskan native it helps you to work with them so if somebody could take this training it could help them if they're working with American Indians actually it helps you work with all other cultures not just American Indians if we're looking at other cultures whether it's immigrants from Vietnamese community African countries that have communities around here that Jewish communities it helps you work with all cultures but it is specific to American Indians so I'm going to send you all these websites and people can utilize these it's free it's free you can just...
Howard: So do you know I just found it I googled it some it's how to develop a culture awareness orientation for your tribe health care program and AI/An so it's American Indian Alaskan native cultural orientation program and it looks like it was put together by a Kohler Snyder mph and the website is just like she said Oklahoma .ouhsc.edu and very nice I any others any last words?
Jessica: No I just I just want to thank you and I want to thank dentaltown because you're the only national organization that is putting any effort into recognizing the National Native American Heritage Month it is every November and I do go around speaking in November to various groups and they don't know that month exists so the fact that you took your time out so that the American Indians and Alaskan Natives especially the dental professionals can let you know what's going on in Indian country I certainly appreciate it.
Howard: Well I certainly appreciate you it's always amazing to meet a pioneer a first mover you know someone that did it first and that's you it was an honor to podcast you. If someone wants you to come speak at their Dental Society how do they contact you?
Jessica: Just at my at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard: email@example.com and you can also find all of our information at the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame and what a pioneer Jessica was just an honor to podcast you thank you so much for coming on the show.
Jessica: Thank you you have a wonderful afternoon
Howard: You too have a great day