MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Peering through a scope, she identifies her target and prepares to execute her mission-- repair the patient’s tooth and alleviate pain. With focus, she extracts the dental pulp, replaces it with expert precision, and fills the tooth to ensure its preservation. Thus is the life of an endodontist, a dentist specialized in treating a tooth through root canal therapy.
Maj. Kelly Ramey, an endodontist assigned to the 6th Dental Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, hasn’t always wanted to be a dentist however.
Growing up in North Dakota, she recalls feeling anxious prior to each dentist visit.
In high school, she worked as an emergency medical technician and nurse’s aide. Passionate for health sciences, she went on to college, studying biology. Wanting to do something different and travel, Ramey chose to enlist into the Air Force.
As a public affairs specialist stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, she worked on stories before going into community relations.
“I really enjoyed community relations because I got to share the Air Force’s mission with people,” explained Ramey. “Different community groups, spouse groups, key community leaders and schools would participate in tours. We had an opportunity to tell them how we fit into the community and share our stories, building public relations.”
During a community relations job shadow program with a local high school in Grand Forks, Ramey’s career path would change forever.
Assigned to a student who wanted to be a military dentist, her perspective began to change.
“I was not excited about the assignment because of my past experiences,” said Ramey. “Like many people, I felt uncomfortable when I had to visit the dental clinic, and now I was going to have to spend a whole day there.
“Dentistry became immediately interesting to me. The patient came in with a problem, you could fix it and see the results right away. It felt like you were helping them and I really liked that.”
The experience impacted her life and helped her get to where she is today.
“I knew the day I left the clinic I was going to go to school and become a dentist,” explained Ramey.
After finishing her initial contract, Ramey separated and finished her bachelor’s degree. She went on the get her doctorate degree with Air Force scholarships and reentered the Air Force as an officer.
“I always knew I was going to come back into the service,” said Ramey.
She spent the next year completing her dental residency at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and eventually specialized in endodontics.
Throughout her 13 years of service, Ramey has acquired vast knowledge in her career field and in the military.
“Dr. Ramey is an amazing mentor,” said Senior Dericke Bonoan Calloway, a dental assistant assigned to the 6th DS. “Whether it is a question about our job or military, she is extremely knowledgeable about what she does.”
Taking care of Airmen is personal for Ramey.
“We, in the dental clinic, provide the best care possible to our patients,” said Ramey. “We get to treat patients the way we would treat ourselves or our family members.”