It was a busy day in clinic when we talked with Dr. James Closmann. Students were running in and out of the first floor, asking for all kinds of help and advice. The school's oral surgeons are constantly giving feedback to students and simultaneously treating routine and emergent dental needs.
After Dental School Closmann did his surgery residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. He then was Chief of OMFS at 121 General Hospital in Yongsan South Korea and at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He then completed a Head and Neck Cancer Fellowship at University of California San Francisco. His final stop, before coming to the University of Colorado, was working as the Director of Resident Training for the OMFS Residency Program for OMFS in Hawaii.
When asked what advice he’d give for students interested in OS, Closmann emphasized being active learners: students should start reading and studying to keep their focus on doing what’s best for the patients through their thorough knowledge. Students interested in OMFS then should get more involved with the surgeons at our school and consider publishing. Closmann notes that usually you need to apply 1.5 years in advance of when you hope to go; so planning is crucial.
“There is a lot of risk and a lot of reward,” said Closmann regarding the rewards of being an oral-maxillofacial surgeon. “We see many pathology cases that are very complex, and it’s rewarding to treat them. When we can treat patients and help them when no one else can.”
Closmann also adds that there is a large sense of satisfaction when you treat a patient that cannot otherwise afford treatment.
Closmann’s pearls of wisdom for dental students are to “pay attention to your mentors while you’re here.” He finishes our discussion by stating what we all know, but can’t ever seem to remember: dental school feels long, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a very short piece of our career. He advises asking questions when you can, and finding one on one time with our faculty to increase our knowledge.