Tawana D. Feimster, D.D.S., M.S.

Tawana D. Feimster, D.D.S. M.S.Endodontic Specialist With Mentoring Passion

The ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Minority Dental Faculty Development Program (ADEA/WKKF MDFDP) has funded 14 dental schools in their efforts to achieve equity, diversity and multicultural value in dental education. The funding allowed these institutions to recruit and develop underrepresented minority students and faculty entering academic careers. The cascading effect of the mentoring received by the trainees is documented in their professional careers and their lifelong commitments to serve as mentors to future students and colleagues. Their stories are documented online in Profiles of Success.

Dr. Feimster was raised by her grandmother in the small town of Statesville, NC. The values and morals she learned early in her life continue to influence her devotion to hard work and “to do things the right way.”

Her dental career trajectory began with a baccalaureate degree from the University of North Carolina, where she majored in dental hygiene. After practicing for four years, she decided to study dentistry. Her motivation for this change, as she remembers, was that she wanted “to be able to do more for her patients” than she was prepared to do as a dental hygienist.

She spent her first two years of dental school at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry and completed her dental degree at Howard University College of Dentistry (HUCD). Her interest in research developed during her second year at HUCD, where she spent two summers in dental research at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Feimster continued her academic preparation by completing a General Practice Residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, NY, before attending the University of Maryland, where she completed dental specialty training in Endodontics and earned a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Feimster joined the faculty at HUCD, where she taught full-time for five years before relocating to Texas. She now owns her practice in Bellaire and is part-time faculty at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. She enjoys the challenges of both teaching and private practice.

Dr. Feimster values the quality of mentoring she received from the ADEA/WKKF MDFDP. She remembers multiple outstanding mentors—Dr. Carolyn Booker, Deitra Brooks McClain, Lamar Hicks and Ashraf Fouad. Her motivation comes from the desire to gain as much knowledge and information about the profession of dentistry as she can and to effectively mentor others. She credits her mentors as having encouraged her “to do more than she thought possible.” Dr. Carolyn Booker, Senior Vice President for Educational Pathways at the American Dental Education Association, states “It is exciting and gratifying to witness the accomplishments of Dr. Feimster. She has long recognized the impact of mentoring and support in her life, and through her activities works to assure that she carries this message to others. In other words, Dr. Feimster personifies all that is right about giving back and being a good mentor.”

Mentoring has become one of Dr. Feimster’s passions. She conducts an online mentoring program that has included 25 dental school and college students over the past 12 years. The program includes quality-based phone conversations that expose the mentees to different resources and programs. She makes an effort to influence their academic preparation and decision-making in the application process. In addition, she mentors dentists who are preparing for their Endodontic Board Certification Examinations. She became certified by the American Board of Endodontics in 2014. She encourages young dentists to complete their specialty boards, especially as it relates to faculty career advancement.

One of her special interests is the advancement of minority women in dental careers. She founded Divas in Dentistry in 2012, which in 2018 is a national networking group of women dentists called Sisters in Dentistry. Dr. Feimster’s advice to students at all levels is as follows: “It is important to have a good mentor and to obtain terminal degrees and/or certification.” She challenges her mentees to “always give back and reach back.”