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Winner of Nifty Awards 2023 “Favorite Clinical Instructor of the Year” – Dr. Heath Hendrickson

Articles, Nifty Awards

For the 2023 “Favorite Clinical Instructor of the Year” Nifty Award, I tossed the best of the best into the hat from all
corners of the community. And, of all those great clinicians, Dr. Heath Henrickson claimed the prize.

For Heath, being chosen as the favorite clinical instructor by his peers and students has left him feeling fulfilled. “It’s a real
honor,” he said. “I try to connect with my participants—with my doctors—and I hope they feel genuinely interested in dentistry… I enjoy my teaching probably as much—if not more so—than my clinical work.”

Would you do dentistry if not for the money?
Getting a DMD isn’t easy. Laboring for that degree requires focus, determination, patience, and then some. For anybody
to put themselves through the grind of pursuing the path of dentistry, they’ll need a good incentive.

For many, a big motivation is money, and—in Heath’s eyes—there’s nothing wrong with that. He firmly believes that no
dentist should feel guilty for trying to make a pretty penny to provide for both themselves and their families. That’s why
one of the big topics he teaches dentists about is creating a “win-win for everybody; patients get the dental care they need, all while you practice more efficiently and affordably to bring home bigger paychecks.

To be fair, there are so many instructors out there who are fountains of knowledge when it comes to making more money. But what I love about Heath is his ethical approach: Heath has a profound commitment to providing care to patients in need. He doesn’t turn away patients based on financial constraints and believes in making dental care accessible.

What’s 2024 looking like for Heath?
In 2024, Heath is looking forward to “exploding his teaching.” He’s particularly enthusiastic about expanding his teaching beyond Utah to other states—such as my “home range” of Texas—where he can reach a broader audience and provide valuable training to more dentists. Additionally, he plans to enhance his online presence, offering continuous education to doctors, particularly those certified in IV sedation. 

His approach to teaching is about fostering genuine connections with his students, imparting knowledge, and instilling confidence. He takes immense pride in knowing that his teaching is making a significant impact on the future of dentistry. In his words, “I really do feel like if they pick up the skill that I’m teaching, it makes all the difference in their future and practice.

For Heath, one of the most fulfilling aspects of teaching is witnessing that magical “light bulb moment” when his students grasp a concept or technique—the moment when it all “clicks.”. Heath understands that when that light bulb goes off, he’s effectively replicating his knowledge and skills, empowering his students to help countless patients. That’s a passion I can definitely relate to, or any dentist for that matter—the drive to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

“Just do it.”
For those who aspire to follow in Heath’s footsteps—transitioning from private practice to mentorship and aiding other
doctors in leveling up their clinical skills—Heath’s advice is refreshingly straightforward: “Just do it, and be true to yourself.” The biggest obstacle is not taking the plunge.

Dentists have the unique privilege of learning from their peers and gaining hands-on experience, Heath believes. The dental community, unlike some other fields, encourages a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration. If you have
a passion for a specific aspect of dentistry, the resources are available to help you embark on your teaching journey. The
key is to make yourself known, leverage the power of the internet, and engage with potential mentees. Heath said, “You’ll
have an audience, and doctors will want to learn from you.”

Being a dentist is a balancing act.
Despite being a prestigious award winner, Heath is human, just like you and I. Ultimately, he’s a clinician trying to
maintain a work-life balance, grappling with the same challenges we go through—whether in practice or at home.

If you’re struggling to keep your head above water amidst all the stress, Heath thinks the first step is identifying what
truly motivates you and making that your passion. Shifting your focus to something you’re passionate about can not only alleviate stress but also allow you to serve your patients, community, and family with renewed energy and commitment.

In response to the doctors who may doubt their surgical skills and feel apprehensive about diving into more complex procedures, Heath offers a practical approach. Wisdom tooth extractions can be a starting point thanks to their gradual learning curve. Dentists can start with cases that align with their comfort levels and progressively gain expertise. The more you practice, the better you become.

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