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Resident Spotlight: Dr. Heather Burbick

Compiled by Dr. Moein Sadrkhani

Dr. Heather Burbick is a second-year resident at Baylor College of Dentistry (Texas A&M). The Paper Point’s Dr. Moein Sadrkhani interviewed her about her journey to endo and her passions outside of endodontics. Get to know her here!

Dr. Moein Sadrkhani: Tell us about yourself, Heather.
Dr. Heather Burbick: I am a Chicago native and second-year resident at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas. (I suppose it is officially Texas A&M now, but it will always be Baylor to me.) I will be graduating from the program this September. I am long-distance married to my wonderful husband, who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Dr. Sadrkhani: So you were a chemical engineer working in pipelines before — what’s the connection between oil and root canals?
Dr. Burbick: This is a great question. Since the transition of my career into dentistry, I have been unable to ignore the astonishing parallels that exist between the professions of endodontics and process engineering. In fact, I wrote my entire residency application essay about it. In my former life as an engineer, I had to routinely rely on applied mathematics and various analytical aids to diagnose potential ailments in the internal condition of the vast piping networks I was assigned to. And now, it really isn’t much different except my diagnostic tools have shifted, right? Basically, our jobs as practitioners are to be the “process engineers “of the oral network.

Dr. Sadrkhani: I see numerous scholarships and awards — which one is your favorite?
Dr. Burbick: I would say the one that means the most to me on a personal level is the Pulaski Scholarship. The scholarship is provided by the American Council on Polish Culture (ACPC), and it is awarded to graduate students who show dedication to the advancement of Polish-American culture. As part of the application process, you must “prove” your heritage by tracing lineage and immigration history. In doing so, I learned so much about the grit of my ancestors – they were much tougher than I! I am proud to be involved in the Polish community here in the United States and proud that the ACPC selected me to represent them.

Dr. Sadrkhani: You are involved with community dentistry and community outreach programs what motivates you do all this and tell our readers more about them.
Dr. Burbick: My first mission trip to Jamaica was instrumental in changing my approach to dentistry. The trip opened my eyes to view my advanced training as a tool to help others who are born into conditions beyond their control. It saddened me to see the conditions in the communities we visited. We even met locals who didn’t know what a dentist was. Since Jamaica, I have completed a few other international mission trips and I plan to continue. COVID threw off some plans last year but when the world calms down and traveling becomes easier, I know there will be plenty of work to be done!

Dr. Sadrkhani: Let’s gets back to endodontic world. After a chemical engineer career and dental school in San Antonio, what made you to go for endodontic residency?
Dr. Burbick: I tried to honestly self-reflect on the aspects of dentistry that brought harmony to my life. There are so many difficulties in the world of Endo but, as a whole, it offers me a sense of peace and quiet. Obviously, it is less noise from the drill when compared to general dentistry– but it is beyond that.

I love going to sleep at night knowing each day will more or less bring me a root canal.

I remember the anxiety I used to have knowing I had an esthetic delivery or denture coming the next morning. I never want to experience that ever again!

Dr. Sadrkhani: How was residency at Texas A&M during COVID?
Dr. Burbick: Wow, what a challenging time for students and our academic institutions. I mean obviously we survived and moved forward but it definitely was a time of great uncertainty and, of course, anxiety for the residents. I happened to be chief resident when our institution moved to reduced care hours and electronic classes — but we made it through. I will say I welcome a return to normalcy.

Dr. Sadrkhani: What is next?
Dr. Burbick: Next up, Corpus Christi, Texas. I am excited to join my husband and live by the water — we need a boat! I am also really looking forward to completing another mission trip. I’m in the talks with a group looking to do some work in Egypt so I am hoping that dream becomes reality.

Dr. Sadrkhani: I also want to congratulate you on passing your sailing exam and being an official Captain. Do you have to shout land ahoy every time you find MB2 now?
Dr. Burbick: Wow, great idea – I should really start doing that! I’m sure the patients would enjoy that. But seriously, sailing is an incredible hobby. I think I was made for the sea. I am excited to continue my journey and cross the oceans someday!

Dr. Sadrkhani: Final word for our readers?
Dr. Burbick: I just want to send positive vibes to all corners the country. After this wild year, stay strong and keep the energy high! Good times are ahead!