Five Questions with Alumni Association President Dr. Amanda Rae Kronquist ’15

Five Questions with Alumni Association President Dr. Amanda Rae Kronquist ’15

Dr. Amanda Rae Kronquist, a graduate of the DDS Class of 2015, is in private practice at Sunset Dental Group in Santa Ana, CA. On February 9, 2024 she was installed as the new president of the Dugoni School Alumni Association board of directors during the 125th Annual Alumni Meeting.

Why did you get involved in volunteering on the Alumni Association board?

I have always been an involved individual. I like the comradery that comes with being a part of a like-minded group. I was both class president and ASB president during my time at the Dugoni School. It was an easy decision to continue to stay involved and continue the friendships, mentorships and other relationships I developed  while a student. 

What is your goal for your year as Alumni Association president?

I want to get our alums excited about being Dugoni alumni! If you have ever met me, you know I am an enthusiastic individual. I want my enthusiasm for dentistry and my fellow alumni to be contagious, and to get more of our recent graduates involved in our annual meeting and other events we host throughout the year.

As a more recent graduate, I feel like my generation has lost the itch to be involved in our alumni association for many reasons: work, family, loans, the ability to stay in touch in other ways such as Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, it is easy to get your CE credits on the computer while multitasking your practice and other responsibilities. However, there is something special when you get together with individuals who went through the same experiences and handle similar day-to-day work. I want our alumni to know their experience does not end when they’re handed their diploma; it is just the beginning.

What are the opportunities or challenges you see the Dugoni School’s new graduates facing as they’re entering the field of dentistry today vs. when you began your career as a new dentist in 2015?

In just a short 10 years there are so many more toys as I like to call them! There will always be your traditional dentistry: prepping a crown, packing cord, taking a physical impression, sending it to the lab, etc. Now, you can do almost every one of those steps with a fun toy; laser, digital scanner, CAD-CAM, milling unit, ovens and much more.  These leave room for so many opportunities, but also presents many challenges for new grads. You may get a little sneak peek at all of the different technologies while in school, but it is not nearly enough exposure to actually graduate and immediately start using it in practice. It will be a challenge, but if you know this stuff, it will set you apart from others.

Additionally, oral health is finally being recognized more and more as an overall health-related issue. We know as dentists the vital role oral health plays in one’s overall health, but it has been a challenge getting the public on board. This being said, the integration among different medical specialties is a challenge.

In my practice, my brother and I deal with a lot of patients who have breathing issues. Breathing issues as early as infancy affect jaw development, occlusion, bruxism, speech, feeding, behavior and so much more. As dentists, we cannot fix the breathing issues by ourselves. There are many possible interventions, but a lot of the time it is not enough. We need the help of ENTs, myofunctional therapists, speech pathologists and others to really help our patients. The challenge with this is getting our patients access to care by finding the right providers who understand the need for multispecialty intervention. The Pacific Health Care Collaborative being built in Sacramento is the first-of-its-kind academic health clinic integrating dentistry and medicine. This is exactly what our health care system needs. As new graduates, you will often find yourself in a situation of needing/wanting to refer a patient to a specific medical professional, and gaining trust and confidence from these professionals will be a challenge.

What do you recommend to students to help them balance their immediate dental career priorities and their long-term goals?

Find a mentor! When you first start out, your priorities will most likely be getting as much practice and experience as possible all while paying down your loan. Do not put too much stress on yourself to pay off your loan; it will happen. Find a mentor or colleague you feel comfortable learning from and asking questions. There is nothing worse than starting off in your dental career and feeling lost. Having someone to lean on in a difficult situation, to go over past or upcoming cases with, or just vent to when you feel like you have had an off day is essential to staying positive and not getting down on yourself.

Once you get the groove of “real-life” dentistry, you’re going to have fun, and the smiles you put on your patients will make you forget about your loans and you can just enjoy your work. Again, my biggest recommendation is to find a mentor who can help you in your first few years after you graduate. The alumni association is here for you!

How do you like to spend your free time?

Most of my time is spent with my wife and three kids, Wilder (4), Sequoia (3), and Oaks (1). We like to have dance parties, fix things around the house, swim, try new restaurants, find treasures while geocaching, and dress up in costumes. When I am by myself, you can find me training for triathlons: running, bike or swimming. 

Three people standing in a room holding placards with their titles

Changing of the guard: Dr. Kronquist is welcomed to her new role by past president Dr. Peter Liu ’89 and Dean Nadershahi during the Annual Alumni Meeting.