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A self-confessed continuing-education junkie, Young says it’s an exciting time to be a dentist

 Growing up in Jasper, Ala., Bruce Young remembers being a cavity-prone kid who visited the dentist quite a bit. At just five-years-old, Dr. Young remembers sitting in his hometown dentist’s chair while getting administered a shot and thinking, ‘I could probably do this.’ Dentistry remained in the back of his mind as he grew up, and in school, he was naturally drawn to studying the sciences. At sixteen, Dr. Young knew what he wanted to do with his life:

“I was going to be a rock and roll star!” remembered Dr. Young. “When I was a teenager, the Beatles came on the scene and my friends and I decided we’d form a band and become famous. I quit some of my other extracurriculars to be a drummer. Our band was called The Brass Button, and in fact, some of my other bandmates did actually go on to make careers out of music.”

“But by my sophomore year of college, I had to decide if I was going to be a dentist or a musician. I started working in the Student Health Center in Tuscaloosa, which affirmed my affinity for medicine. I transferred from the University of Alabama to UAB when I was a junior, and got to know Dr. David Greer well during my undergraduate years. He encouraged me to apply to dental school.”

At the time, the School offered the opportunity to complete dental school in three years. The program was called the Combined Basic Medical Sciences Curriculum (CBMS), and Bruce and fifteen others enrolled in the fall of 1973.

“During the first eighteen months, we took classes through the medical school, and then the last eighteen months were strictly with the dental school. With so few students, we were a close-knit group. Our major professor was Dr. Ragnar Flatland, and the other two professors who oversaw the majority of our program were Dr. Milton Essig and Dr. Charles Joy.”

While in dental school, Dr. Young was introduced to his late wife, Jan O’Quinn. After graduating in 1976 and then completing a one-year General Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, the couple faced the decision of where to settle down.

“We wanted to be close to both sets of parents. Jan’s lived in Atlanta and mine were still in Jasper. Jacksonville, Ala. seemed to be a good spot – it had a college and seemed like a secure area to start a practice. I had some acquaintances-turned-friends nearby and we decided to buy a building together for our businesses. So my original building housed a law office, a real estate office, and my dental office. Eventually I bought the others out and we expanded.”

Bruce has proudly practiced in the same location in Jacksonville for nearly 45 years. But his practice has grown and changed quite a bit over that time.

“My wife Jan passed away in 1985 from ovarian cancer. That was a very difficult time and the dental community was really supportive. In the 1990s, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) offered a ‘fellowship’ and then a ‘master’s’ after completion of so many continuing education hours. The program was held at UAB, and I decided to participate. Dr. Sue Nimer was one of my pediatric dentistry instructors and I eventually asked her out! We’d go dancing around Birmingham, and we just had a lot of fun together. We got married in 2000, while Sue’s daughter Leanne was in dental school at UAB. Sue and Leanne knew they wanted to practice together eventually, so Sue sold her practice and I expanded mine to have space for her pediatric practice while Leanne finished school.”

Dr. Young maintained the pediatric side of his office even after Sue left. Today, he practices alongside three other dentists, with a total of 22 employees.

To ensure he is always providing the most up-to-date treatment and care to his patients, Dr. Young participates in many continuing education courses and is heavily involved in organized dentistry.

“I’m an active member in AGD and am the current president of the Alabama Implant Study Group. That group was formed 50 years ago by several dentists in Birmingham who, at the time, were the cutting edge for implant dentistry for the whole world. It’s been a real honor to be a part of that.”

“I’m also a bit of a continuing-education junkie,” joked Bruce. “To be honest, I would advise any new, young dentist to get involved in organized dentistry and stay on top of continuing education opportunities. There is more that you can do and learn now than ever before, and it’s an exciting time to be a dentist!”