Dr. Amber Callis’ Path From Summer Job to Academic Dentistry
During a summer break in high school, Amber Callis, D.D.S., M.S., began volunteering with her neighborhood pediatric dentist with the assumption that she would be answering phones and filing charts. To her surprise, she was trained as his dental assistant. By the end of the summer, she was confident that she wanted to become a pediatric dentist, and began to focus her academic work on that goal.
After completing her B.S. at Texas A&M University, Dr. Callis graduated from the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry (TAMBCD) in 2006. She completed her pediatric residency at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, and in 2008 she received an M.S. in Health Professions Education and a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from TAMBCD.
Claude Williams, D.D.S., then Director of Community Outreach at TAMBCD, identified Dr. Callis as a rising star due to her scholarly pursuits as both a dental educator and clinical specialist. She was selected as a fellow in the TAMBCD Comprehensive Dental Faculty Development Program (CDFDP), funded by the ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Minority Dental Faculty Development (ADEA MDFD) program. The CDFDP facilitated advanced training, career development and mentoring for dental students interested in pursuing academic careers; in exchange, fellows committed to teach one year for each year of financial support received through the program. Dr. Williams; Ernestine Lacy, D.D.S., M.A.; and N. Sue Seale, D.D.S., were academic and professional mentors to Dr. Callis. She credits their direction and encouragement for helping her to reach greater heights than she could have on her own.
“Dr. Amber Callis’ role in dental academia started to emerge when she was a dental student at Baylor College of Dentistry,” says Dr. Lacy, Director of the CDFDP. “She performed stellarly in her coursework during her first year of dental school and, as a consequence, was nominated by her professors to serve as a peer tutor when she became a second-year dental student. Dr. Callis also taught extensively in her pediatric dentistry program, proving to be an excellent teacher. She mentored students in both of these capacities.”
A Houston native, Dr. Callis fulfilled her desire to return home after completing her education in Dallas. She is now a board certified pediatric dentist with a dual career in education and pediatric dental practice. She is a part-time Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston and is also engaged in her full-time group practice in pediatric dentistry.
Dr. Callis feels that the private practice experience she brings to the department and to clinical patient management makes her a better educator. As a junior faculty member, two key things motivate her: her students’ success and the continued growth and development of her department. The feeling she has when students master their learning objectives is what she most enjoys about teaching. She takes pride in knowing that she can be a part of the dynamic growth and change within her department, and is motivated to pursue publication, speaking engagements and research.
“As a current faculty member at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, Dr. Callis continues to serve as an outstanding teacher and an effective mentor. She is an excellent representative of the MDFD program,” says Dr. Lacy. Dr. Callis sees herself as a role model, especially for young women who aspire to professional careers, because she represents what they could become. She anticipates being a full-time faculty member later in her career.
This article was first published in the November 2015 edition of the ADEA
Bulletin of Dental Education.