Striving for Excellence

By Kara A. Sanchez

Clinical excellence is a hallmark of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, as the school prides itself on producing outstanding, clinically trained dentists. During the rigorous, three-year curriculum, students develop the tools they need to adapt to an ever-changing world, where new skills and knowledge are required to keep pace with advancing technology and the challenges faced by an increasingly diverse population.

“As a group practice leader, I am in a privileged position to be part of our students’ journey,” said Dr. Des Gallagher, assistant professor and group practice leader. “Each day, I see the students grow and develop as they interact with their patient family to provide outstanding, patient-centered care to each person as if they were a close relative. I am humbled by their passion, drive and willingness to always strive for the best outcome.”

On May 31, Dugoni School of Dentistry students showcased their best in patient care at Excellence Day, a long-standing tradition where students share their clinical accomplishments with faculty, staff, classmates, friends, alumni and other guests. “Excellence Day is a culmination of our students’ efforts in clinical care of patients, research and community service,” said Dr. Nathan Yang ’06, assistant professor and coordinator of Excellence Day. “Through the guidance of dedicated faculty, the patients of our school and the community we are apart of; the students present their endeavors to the entire Dugoni School community. I am ecstatic to have participated as a student and now, as a faculty member, to coordinate one of the crown jewel events here at the dental school.”


“Excellence Day is a culmination of our students’ efforts in clinical care of patients, research and community service,”


Many students invited one of their patients to participate in the program to showcase the successful treatment in person. Faculty judges recognized clinical achievements in categories such as aesthetic dentistry, implant dentistry, complex restorative, removable prosthodontics and endodontics. In addition, the Dr. Henry A. Sutro Award for Best Oral Rehabilitation Design was presented to the top three senior students in each group practice, and an overall winner was announced at the Alumni/Graduate Banquet in June. More than $40,000 was awarded to the winning students, thanks to generous funding from the Dr. Henry Sutro Endowment. The late Dr. Henry Sutro, an alumnus from the Class of 1950, was an ardent supporter of the dental school.

“Working on this patient’s case was very instrumental in facilitating my growth as a dentist,” said Dr. Spencer Hiura ’17, overall Sutro award-winner for outstanding presentation. “I appreciate the faculty members who helped me work on this case, such as Dr. Sadowsky, Dr. Vallee and Dr. Kachalia, who gave me so much guidance. I felt so honored to win the overall Sutro Award and I will continue to give my best to provide clinical excellence to my patients going forward.”

Yang adds, “Year after year, the event never ceases to amaze me and what our dental students have the potential to accomplish.” We invite you to take a look at the outstanding clinical cases from several Sutro award-winners, all from the Class of 2017.