Through a special project named "Women in Dentistry: A Glance Back and a Look Forward", the School of Dentistry celebrates women and their contributions to the healing art and science of dentistry.
Kelly Lyons, DDS
WVU School of Dentistry, Class of 2018
Meet the dentist
I was born and raised in Morgantown, WV, and I grew up loving to be outside, read books, and I chased any kind of science I could from the time I was very little. Dinosaurs and astronomy held my attention early on, and with some advice from my mother, later I landed in health care. The combination of science, caring for people, and artistry appealed to me. Now I work in the northern panhandle of West Virginia in a public health setting and find it very rewarding to work with both my mind and my hands to help all of my patients, including those whose options for health care are limited.
Question: Why did you decide to become a dentist?
Answer: My parents encouraged the career choice because they felt that it was meaningful work and a good career in terms of lifestyle and financial opportunities. I was part of a pre-dental program at Shepherd University (DentSTEP) that required a certain number of shadowing hours per year. Spending that focused time observing my family dentist, Dr. Diana Frum, and other dentists helped me to realize that I could be happy in a similar setting.
Question: Why did you attend WVU?
Answer: I wanted to come back to my hometown for graduate school, and WVU has a great reputation for preparing strong clinicians.
Question: Which memorable experience in your dental school program helped you move from student to oral health professional?
A: Our professors (and even observing my peers!) taught me so much and prepared me well to care for patients. I would say that the transition to oral health professional felt much more established after I started working after graduation – the skills we had been taught became more intrinsic when I was working with a full schedule of patients.
Mentorship and sponsorship are crucial for career progression.
-Sheryl Sandberg from her book Lean In
Question: What do you do to have fun?
Answer: Hiking, playing pick-up soccer, watching Marvel movies, and hanging out with friends and family are some of my favorite things to do outside of work.
Question: What do you wish you knew then (as a student) that you know now (as accomplished dentist)?
Answer: As valuable as my education was, it is truly only meant to last for those four years in that kind of setting. There are some things I learned only by going into practice and applying what my professors taught me without them standing close by. What they taught us was more than enough, and taking the leap into working was what solidified those skills for me.
We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, but a small group of determined people can change the course of history.
Question: How has a mentor contributed to your success? What attributes do you admire most in your mentors?
Answer: Dr. Diana Frum was my family dentist, and spending a lot of time in her office while she was treating my orthodontic case got me interested in dentistry. Spending time shadowing her gave me a lot of respect for the profession and her – she was always efficient and effective at helping people, improving their lives, and leading a staff well. There were so many professors at WVU that influenced me, and I would like to give a special nod to Drs. Meador and Cunningham. They both passed away recently, and while they taught me a lot of clinical skills, what I appreciated most about both of them was that they believed in me and in my colleagues. They always treated us as though we had the capacity to become good dentists. Dr. Mike Bagby also taught me a lot about how to approach children in dentistry and gave a great example of maintaining integrity in the dental field.