Dr. Dianne Gan, a second-year Graduate Prosthodontics resident at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, has been selected as the 2019-20 David H. Wands Fellow in Graduate Prosthodontics, the school has announced.
Dr. Gan becomes the 12th recipient of the fellowship at the UW. After expressing her appreciation for the award, she said: “This program has far exceeded my expectations. I love my co-residents. I feel like I have the smartest people from all over the world to learn from and learn with. The treatment planning seminars are very intense and provoke spirited discussion, which in my opinion is an awesome way to learn. I have also found the interdisciplinary coordination to be very unique to this program. It’s great that I can just walk next door into the Periodontics clinic and ask my colleagues surgical or prognostic questions. It’s very collaborative.”
Dr. Gan, who received her DMD at the University of Connecticut, earned a BS degree in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., where she won the Rensselaer Medal, a scholarship awarded to secondary students who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science. She completed an externship at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, worked as a research assistant at the Colgate-Palmolive Global Technology Center, and studied briefly at the University of New South Wales in Australia. She has also accompanied humanitarian dental missions to Honduras and the Amazon River basin.
In addition, her community work has included helping to teach health education at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Conn.
“There are so many communities within our larger communities who don’t get the same opportunities for learning as the rest of us,” she said. “It makes me feel grateful, and the students we taught were amazing. They are some of the most hard-working and resilient humans I’ve ever met.”
Her interest in health care started early, with a number of physicians on both sides of her family, including both her parents. She, however, became the first in her family to pursue a dental career.
“Initially I thought I wanted to be an orthodontist,” she said. “I really appreciated how orthodontics changed my smile, and I wanted to be able to have that same impact on other people.” However, her direction changed after she entered dental school.
“I realized that I actually liked prepping teeth and making dentures,” she said. “I realized that I could have that same impact on people by changing their smiles in a different way. I was also excited about gaining more knowledge in order to treatment plan my future patients in the most optimal way. Now that I’ve started residency myself, I really love how much dentistry I’ve learned beyond my dental school training. We have so many methods of learning, including literature reviews, seminars, lab work, and clinical hours. It gets really busy, but I am having fun learning every day.”
She has not yet decided where she will practice after completing her residency, but wants to eventually own a practice. In addition, she said, “I definitely want to teach. I think this program really provides us with a skill set that is ideal for presenting to large audiences.”
That aspiration meshes well with one of the goals Dr. Wands set for the fellowship, which was to encourage recipients to enter academic dentistry and teach prosthodontics. “If we don’t have teachers in the dental school, then we don’t have graduates. It’s that simple,” he has said.
Dr. Wands, who was a UW School of Dentistry faculty member in the Department of Prosthodontics for 22 years, originally established the fellowship at the University of Maryland, where he received his DDS with honors in 1967 from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He practiced for seven years with the U.S., Public Health Service and later completed a graduate prosthodontics residency at the UW before joining the dental faculty. He taught both undergraduate and graduate prosthodontics, achieving the rank of Clinical Professor.
Dr. Wands initiated the fellowship at the UW in 1998 with a new $500,000 commitment, partly in appreciation for the quality of his training but also to get residents to consider pursuing academic dentistry.
He is a member of the UW School of Dentistry Dean’s Club and helped found the UW Graduate Prosthodontic Alumni Association. In 1999, he was honored by the Dean’s Club with its highest award, Honorary Lifetime Member. He is a Life Member of the Academy of Prosthodontics and Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics. Now retired from private practice in Olympia, Wash., he is an avid saltwater and freshwater fly fisherman, as well as, a master gardener.