Marshall is her ‘first choice’
Passion for dentistry leads Full back to her hometown to start her new career
MARSHALL — Amy Full fell in love with the dentist office at a young age.
“I loved going to the dentist,” she said, looking back at growing up in Marshall. “I asked my mom when I could go to the dentist. The fluoride treatment, the foam stuff you put in your mouth. I love that stuff. Everyone is always ‘oh my gosh that’s the worst part of the dentist’ — it was my favorite part.”
In her seventh-grade year, Full got an elbow to the face during basketball practice and broke half of her front tooth.
“So I freaked out as a seventh- grader, I have no front tooth,” Full said.
Her dentist, Dr. Jeff Thomas, was on his way out of town for a fishing trip, but came back to fix her tooth.
“His kind of caring ability to come back for a patient kinda showed me that (dentistry) was something. I always wanted to care for people,” Full said. “I thought about the medical field.”
Her passion for dentistry took her on a path that started with an internship as a senior at Marshall High School at Dr. Jeff Thomas’ dentist office from December until graduation.
“I’d go to the dental office at 2 o’clock everyday, 2 to 5, and just hang out with the office. That was a big part of deciding I did want to do dentistry,” Full said.
Her pursuit of a career in dentistry has led her back home. She returned to Marshall at the Johnson Family Dental Care in Marshall after receiving her doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.
Full said practicing dentistry in a rural community was exactly what she was looking for in beginning her new career. And she’s grateful to returning to her hometown. She also will be the only female dentist in the Marshall area.
“I am just hoping to bring a different aspect. I’m excited to come back with the new knowledge that I’ve learned from school, because dentistry changes so much,” Full said.
Full said that the University of Minnesota dental school does Rural Outreach programs and rural experiences to bring awareness to the need for oral health providers in the rural Minnesota. Full participated in the MinnCrop program, a three week program during the summer of her second year of school.
“I went out to Jackson, Minnesota. It was like a internship. I couldn’t work on any patients, but I got to hang out at the office. It just showed me how great a need there is,” Full said.
The Outreach program also sent Full to Cook for an experience at the Scenic Rivers Clinic.
“It has a grocery store, it has the essentials, but it is very small knit community. It is a community clinic up there, and it is partnered with their hospital,” said Full.
“I worked alongside two mentors and it was me and one other classmate. In Minnesota where there’s not dentists or there’s not health care providers, you (a clinic) can become a critical access point,” said Full.
“It’s for Minnesota care patients, for them to have access to care. We saw a lot of patients on medical assistant programs, we saw a lot elderly and young children. It was a lot emergencies, but also planned appointments.”
Full said doing an outreach at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, the Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis and Walker Methodist Senior Dental Clinic Franklin Ave in Minneapolis.
“Some of the faculty that know I wanted to go back to a small town reached out and said ‘hey, here’s an opportunity, here’s another one, and here’s another one,'” she said. “A lot of opportunity just showing you there’s a lot of need out there in those communities.”
Full still has strong ties to Marshall because of family and friends.
“I knew I didn’t like the cities,” said Full. “My dad (John Full) owns the jewelry store in downtown Marshall. My mom (Michelle Full) actually grew up in Marshall and my dad grew up near Canby. We have a lot of family around and close friends.
“In the cities I have friends who still don’t have a job. It’s very few and far between. It may have not been their first choice, where I’m going was my first choice.”
“In the cities, sometimes people work for corporate practices and they’re like yea, you’ll have a mentor, but then they’ll put you in a practice by yourself, so you don’t get that mentorship. I’ve kind of gotten the feeling that going to the cities is more about how to make them money, as a corporation, more than in smaller towns,” Full said.
“If you want to see your patients in the grocery store, which some of my classmates did not, and you want to be able to know their kids, and see their grandparents, and see generations of a family this is somewhere people should look in to.”