“Within my community as a resident health care professional to be I mean, whatever you want to classify me – student, I’m encountering there a ton of endurance athletes, be it ultra runners, marathoners, half marathoners, triathletes. And it just goes to show that it’s such an interconnected community and you have these people who are kick ass out there on the road or on the bike or in the pool or wherever, but they’re also kick ass in their respective fields. So, in the lab, in the OR, doing whatever and it just makes you take a step back and be like you can balance the two.”
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JESSE: Today on the Smart Athlete Podcast, my guest is a renaissance woman after my own heart. She was a competitive equestrian on the national circuit for over 10 years. She is a, I’ll say talented artist, in some sense, loves to draw and paint. She’s currently a competitive triathlete, and a resident in pediatric dentistry. And I’m hoping maybe I can get some meal order but she tells me she also cooks really well. Welcome to the show, Ashley Anderson.
ASHLEY: Sounds good.
JESSE: So, what are you cooking tonight? Can you c like Fedex me like one– or maybe it’s like Amazon Prime now, can you just like get a drone to send me something?
ASHLEY: I’ll see what I can do in my spare time that I don’t have. So, tonight actually, my boyfriend Ben is in town. He lives in the Myrtle Beach area and is one of the track and field coaches at Coastal Carolina. So, he is charged with making dinner tonight. So, if you hear pots and pans clinking in the background, then– He can cook really, really well. so I think breakfast for dinner. I know that sounds like a cop out but like legitimate brunch breakfast for dinner I think is on the menu.
JESSE: Yeah, I know there are some people that are Gaga about Brynner as I know it. I’ve never really been huge in your breakfast for dinner, and I love breakfast. But it came up in college all the time and sometimes the cafeteria would have breakfast or dinner and everybody would be super excited. I’d be like, no. It was like the bane of my existence. I was like, I’m going to have a terrible– just for some reason I would have like a terrible workout the next day, hands down, like every single time I had breakfast for dinner. So, I think that’s why I avoided it.
ASHLEY: As a resident, I will confess that sometimes breakfast for dinner entails a bowl of cereal over a top of notes and other things that you’re working on. So, yes, breakfast for dinner is a friend of mine.
JESSE: Well, that’s fair because that’s easy to make. Before we got going, you’re telling me that tomorrow you’re actually finishing up your residency?
JESSE: …time to celebrate. So, does that mean more actual dinners now, less cereal?
ASHLEY: It means I get to be human again. So, I have been in school for a total of 10 years after high school. So, four years of undergrad at Wake Forest. Go Deeks. And that’s where I met Greg, that you had on the show last week. And then four years of dental school, contrary to most people’s belief, dental school is in fact four years and that was at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. And then I matched to the program here in Charleston at MUSC, and that’s a two year song and dance. So, it’s been an academic marathon. It’s interesting, I get on Facebook or Instagram and I see oh, so and so went to high school and is married. Oh, that’s great. I’m still in school. Oh, they had a kid. Oh, that’s great. I’m still in school. But to finally, it’s really surreal to realize that I’m done.
I mean, you’re always learning, there’s always continuing education, there’s always something to take away from each clinic day. But the fact that the bulk of the academics is over, as of tomorrow, I mean, I have one more OR day, so I’m going out with a bang, but it’s really humbling. I’m a very warm, fuzzy, tender hearted extra person. And you think about all the moments, kind of like in training, all the moments where you’re like this sucks or can I get through this part, or oh, one more test to study for or this is a really tough workout, whatever. That mental toughness that comes into play in sport, has definitely found its way into my academic endurance events over the last 10 years. So, it’s pretty cool to realize I’m done tomorrow.
JESSE: So, is it like, I know, from my few friends that are finishing medical school here recently, that I mean, the job market for doctors is pretty much almost wherever they want to go, is it similar for you?
ASHLEY: Yeah. There’s areas that are more saturated than others. There are areas where the need is greater, more so than others. For me, I wanted to balance where I wanted to live with where I could serve the community. And I know that sounds cheesy, but I want to go to a place where there are patients that need care and populations that need care. So, in pediatric dentistry, I think what a lot of people don’t realize is, yes, you see little kids, but you also see medically compromised kids, special needs children, adolescents and adults. And that last patient population is very much underserved. And that’s one of the main reasons why I went into pediatric dentistry was to be able to serve that population.
So, that’s something that when I interviewed for different jobs, and different areas, it was one of my main questions is, how many of those types of patients do you see? Do you go out into the community and go to schools and do outreach and stuff like that? I was very involved in dental school with what’s called Mission of Mercy Projects, which essentially, we go out into this was in Virginia, so underserved areas of Virginia and provide free dental care, like intense outdoors for multiple days over the course of a weekend to people who really need it and can’t afford it.
And so going out and going into the community, and not just serving the day to day patient population is really important to me. So, that kind of factored into my decision as to where to hunt for jobs. But yeah, essentially, you can pick up what you do and take it anywhere, which I think is really cool about medicine, and really cool about dentistry, is that you go serve a population, wherever. You may be super busy or you may be not so busy, you maybe the only man in town and have to wear multiple hats with what services you provide or maybe not. So, that variety is really something that I think is really empowering about healthcare being a [??? 8:26] medicine, and also really intimidating as a practitioner coming out. Sometimes parents will look at me and be like you’re how old, you’re dating my child right now?
JESSE: I’m sorry, you’re 15, right?
ASHLEY: Yeah. Yeah, I like to joke sometimes, and some people, I have to choose who I crack this on, but at dental school patients would look at you and say, okay, well, how many times have you done this procedure? And I look at them and say, I YouTube that like five minutes before you walk through the door. Some people like actually think that’s funny. Sometimes it’s actually true. And then other times you realize, like, you can’t joke around with patients like that.
JESSE: Yeah [??? 9:13].
ASHLEY: Yeah. So, no, I’m going back home to Virginia to practice. There is an office back in the Virginia Beach, Norfolk area that I have landed at, and I’m really excited about that. I’ll be close to my family. So, I’m the youngest of three. I’m the only one not married with children. My mom reminds me of that.
JESSE: We all take different paths.
ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah. So, I’m excited to be able to go back home and serve my hometown, essentially.
JESSE: So, growing up, did you do mission work or outreach or volunteer? Or was it in school, was it your first kind of opportunity to do that kind of work?
ASHLEY: I did a lot of volunteering in high school, middle school, mainly high school with our local hospital, and actually worked in the cardiac department as a volunteer and debated for a while; did I want to do that or did I want to go into dentistry? And then ultimately decided on dentistry just for different reasons. It has an artistic component, which we talked about is a big part of my life. It allows me to have more, one on one, I think, more consistent relationships with my patients. But yeah, so I volunteered at the hospital, back home for shoot, a number of years. I did a lot with the mission of mercy projects as a high schooler prior to going to dental school. I continued that in college, did a lot of random outreach things, medical stuff and non-medical things too. So, no volunteering, and just being out in the public has been a big part of my life for a long time.
JESSE: Okay. To me, it doesn’t sound like you’re like, oh, I’m going to be in dentistry and just make a lot of money and that’s all I’m interested in and then you got sidetracked. It’s kind of seems like that’s been a little bit of the fabric of who you are for a while. Yeah, just volunteering. Where did I get– So, I have to write my notes down.
ASHLEY: Oh, it’s okay.If I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it.
JESSE: Well, it’s like we could go on and then I’m like, wait, what? I don’t know. So, you got your job so are you taking your boyfriend with you? Are you going to import him back home? That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do, ask a lot of questions.
ASHLEY: So, we already do long distance. So, he’s two hours away from me right now. And so I have to brag for a little bit. He has been fantastic about making the trip to come see me. As you can imagine in residency getting away is difficult. [??? 12:18] first, studies come first. So, oftentimes, it’s difficult to pop up and down the road, obviously, when you’re on call, but when you’re in OR till late Friday or have stuff to do. So, he’s been very good about coming down to see me. And we make the most of his visits in that he’ll come and stay a couple of days or I’ve gone up to see him a few times. But anyway, thank God for FaceTime, Marco Polo, Instagram, Facebook, whatever texting. We make on that’s work. And I think it takes a special set of humans to be able to do that.
JESSE: I would agree.
ASHLEY: He is also a triathlete and that’s how we met. So, fun side note story. I’ve been in a self-induced bad bike accident almost a year ago. I was racing, my second little local sprint race, and I took a corner too sharply and my bike went one way and my body went another way. Lots of rehab, both my own personal self, and then my bike also didn’t handle the damage too well. So, long story short, Ben was the mechanic at the track shop where I went for the majority of my triathlon-ism needs. And he fixed my bike after the accident and wrote his phone number on their seat for the pairs, [smooth] then became a good friend prior to us actually going on a date. And we’ve been together almost a year, but that’s how we met.