Love of Children and Dentistry Drives Career

UMKC School of Dentistry selects Brenda Bohaty to receive Alumni Award

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring Brenda Bohaty (Ph.D. ’09) with its Class of 2022 School of Dentistry Alumni Achievement Award.

What drew you to dentistry? And what made you want to work with children?

I grew up in a small rural town in Nebraska and my dentist was literally “a jack of all trades.”  He really did it all…surgery, restorations, everything. I really admired him and enjoyed going to the dentist.  I had some complicated treatment needs with impacted teeth and so my case was not easy.  He made me feel comfortable no matter what I was having done. 

As the director of the residency program for up-and-coming dentists at Children’s Mercy, you work closely with your profession’s newest cohorts. How will pediatric care look different for them than it did when you first began?   

The love for children and our desire to help them never changes.  We are faced with managing many more children with special health care needs as more children survive catastrophic diagnoses and continue to live meaningful lives.

Our focus and commitment in areas of healthcare inequities will also be expanded.  Although we have talked about barriers to care for a very long time, leaders in dentistry will need to expand our response and work together to ease the many barriers faced by those in need.   Finally, the number of children who experience adverse childhood experiences continues to increase and our focus on training dental students and advanced training students in trauma informed care will be very important.

What is the impact of your work with Operation Breakthrough and the Lowry Clinic having for young kids? 

The Lowry Clinic Program at UMKC was established with a trust more than 60 years ago to pay for care for children in urban Kansas City. The money from the trust is gone, but UMKC continues to make the program a priority and provides care to approximately 150 children each year. What an impact we have on the oral health of these kids! The Operation Breakthrough program is similar and has been a win-win for our students and patients alike.

What advice do you have for students who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard and love what you do! Embarking on an academic career in dentistry was not something I was interested in pursuing initially, but I was guided by awesome mentors like Dr. John Haynes (B.S., ‘56, D.D.S., ‘60, M.A. ’71) and James Lowe (D.D.S., ’65, M.S. ’69) I loved practicing dentistry, but the combination of teaching and practicing was a perfect mix.

About the Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring Bohaty and the other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. April 29, at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarship, contributions can be made online.

Learn more about School of Dentistry

Published: Feb 14, 2022

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