Learn about one member's GDA experience.
This column highlights GDA members talking about their path to dentistry and the value they find in GDA membership. This month, we hear from Dr. Jordan Blankenship-Sniker in the Northern District.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
From a very young age, I was molding smiles with play-doh, brushing stuffed animals’ teeth, and watching my parents work in their family dental practice. Mom would clean teeth, Dad would fix them, and whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was, “A dentist!” Throughout my education, I explored other careers, but I always came back to my roots. It’s fun living your childhood ambitions as an adult.
Why did you decide to become a dentist?
This profession has the best aspects of all careers. You get to be artistic, a critical thinker, an entrepreneur and a healthcare provider all wrapped up in a nice little bundle. Even after one of those tough days at the office, I still have a smile on my face the next morning going back to work. If you have to spend a majority of your lifetime at work, it’s important to be in a field that you are truly happy in.
How did you become a GDA member?
During my junior year of dental school, I travelled to Amelia Island to represent the students of the Dental College of Georgia at the GDA’s Convention & Expo. I remember feeling so proud to be part of this profession, surrounded by so many committed individuals, actively listening to the keynote speaker Herman Cain as he discussed the political and economic climate and how it relates to healthcare professionals and small business owners. We are a group of intelligent, devoted people, who not only care about our patients, but also about each other and want to see dentistry thrive in an ever-changing environment. The rest of the weekend was filled with NBDE flashcards, CE courses, and networking opportunities. I went back to Augusta anxious for the next GDA meeting.
Who introduced you to GDA?
Growing up in a dental family, my dad, Jeffrey Blankenship, always talked about the benefits of the GDA and how it is important to have a group advocating on your behalf. I have always been intrigued by political action, and even majored in Political Science at Clemson University. It wasn’t until I became involved in the American Student Dental Association that I truly understood what it meant to be a part of something bigger than you, but better because of you.
What was your most memorable experience with GDA?
My most memorable experience with the GDA was advocating under the Gold Dome at our Law Day. Sending runners with notes to each of our representatives, hoping for a chance to share our opinions on specific bills, and being filled with nervous excitement when one actually did come out of session to speak with us. That type of experience is the embodiment of American democracy and it felt like we were really making a difference.
What advice would you give a dental student about GDA?
Dentistry is about life-long learning. Being a part of an organization of dentists who can share their experiences with you is crucial to helping you become the best dental provider you can be for your patients. Other dentists are the only people who know exactly what you are going through, be it balancing work/life, treatment planning complex cases, running a business, the actual physical stress of patient care, etc. The GDA offers camaraderie, mentorship and advocacy on your behalf.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Or how do you spend a typical weekend?
On the weekends, you can find me outside with my husband and our two big mountain dogs either exploring new trails, cheering on the Clemson Tigers, or grilling in the backyard with friends and family.
Have you made any friends or long relationships because of GDA?
I am happy to say that I’ve gained a couple mentors through my involvement at the GDA, most notably, Dr. Jeff Cox of the Southwestern District. Ironically, Dr. Cox was one of my dad’s roommates during dental school. He has been very helpful, offering advice regarding implant placement, and keeping me up to date on all the latest CE courses. He’s recently taken his mentoring to new heights, being named his district’s leader, and I’m so proud of what he has been able to accomplish through his time with the GDA.
What is the single most important thing, in your opinion, the GDA can do to help members?
Be our profession’s unified voice on a large scale by continuing to grow GADPAC and increasing our presence at Law Day. As dentists, we advocate for our patients’ wellbeing, continuing to have a dedicated leadership team to advocate for our interests and the well-being of the profession we adore is a vital aspect of the GDA.
What advice would you give to people aspiring to go to dental school to become a dentist?
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Work hard, do your best, and know that every ounce of effort you put into this profession is absolutely worth it. Every day there is a new reward in this profession.
What is your all-time dream vacation?
It would be hard to beat our honeymoon hiking through New Zealand, but lately I have been dreaming of a backpacking trip exploring Patagonia. Being in the elements, surrounded by spectacular scenery—absolutely heaven! If my husband’s implementation of “budget smackdown” works out how he says, hopefully we can make this dream a reality.
Without saying “I am a dentist,” if someone asked, “What do you do?” what would you say?
I’m a D
gineer and arTIST
, making the world a better place one smile at a time