Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Whitmer, Fast Track BS in Dental Hygiene '13

Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Whitmer, Fast Track BS in Dental Hygiene '13

May 03, 2016


  • Fun fact #1: Thomas Whitmer ’13 has been to 48 states. Fun fact #2: he doesn’t like to pick favorites. Even his favorite comfort foods change up a lot. “It can be burgers and fries, BBQ pizza, steak tips, or salmon. It depends on my mood,” he says.

    After he completed his military service (four years in the Marine Corps as an infantryman with two deployments in Iraq), Thomas knew he wanted to use his GI Bill to earn a college degree. He was also certain that he wanted options – choices that would make him employable in whatever field he ultimately chose. So when it came time to choose between a premedical and predental education, he didn’t want to be hasty picking his favorite. Instead, he took a practical approach, making informed decisions along the way. He chose to pursue his Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene through the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene at MCPHS.

    Curious to learn more about his decisions and experiences, we asked Thomas some questions. He shared with us more details and, finally, we got him to play favorites.

    Why was earning a bachelor’s degree so important to you?

    I specifically wanted a career option that had the ability to work and gain experience in my field with a bachelor degree. I also wanted an opportunity to advance in my chosen field by pursing a higher education.

    Personally, I did not want a premedical or predental degree alone since these options would not provide me with a career by itself if I had decided against going to medical or dental school after all.

    What tipped the scales toward a dentistry focus?

    Over time the dental field became more interesting to me. It involves more hands-on work and generally follows a model of normal business hours. Also, after my time in the military, I especially wanted a career in which I could be assured of working normal business hours. Although I enjoyed my military service, I was ready for a complete change of pace from the military lifestyle

    Can you tell us about your professors?

    They were always ready and willing to meet with students and help them in any way possible. Our professors and instructors treated us like future colleagues. Since graduating, I have actually worked in practice with some of them.

    How did dental hygiene training prepare you for dental school?

    I’m confident in seeing patients, and talking to them about their needs – even patients with very different cultural backgrounds and life experiences than me.

    Having recently completed the dental school application process, what are some of the advantages of the new Predental/Dental Hygiene program?

    The Predental/Dental Hygiene program is not your typical undergraduate experience. It gives you the bachelors degree and prerequisites needed for dental school

    To me, the program is a no brainer to go the extra mile and get so much more out of the degree. You are qualified for a well paying job before dental school starts – it’s a great return on your investment that will make you a better applicant. You also get patient experience most other applicants aren’t going to have. And, worst case, if you don’t get in to dental school, you can still be licensed to work in the field.

    Did you have a favorite MCPHS class?

    As you know, I usually struggle with picking favorites, so I do not recall having a favorite course. Some of the courses that were memorable were the local anesthesia labs, clinic, dental materials labs, rotations, etc.

    What’s your favorite part about your career of choice?

    Seeing patients. Every patient is unique, and you never know how a patient experience will go.

    Hey, that’s a favorite!

    You got me.

    Thomas Whitmer ’13 is currently in dental school. Our Predental/Dental Hygiene program is designed to enable students to complete the prerequisites required for dental school application – which means that, after graduation, our students can immediately begin the application process and find academic success.