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Life & Work with Dr. Christie Hogue

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Christie Hogue.

Hi Dr. Christie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am grounded by my role to the three most influential people in my life. I am the granddaughter of a centurion. My grandmother’s perseverance and ingenious ways of staying active, alert, and abreast of what is going even though everyone in her cohort (age group) had passed on was unbelievable. She remained healthy physically, mentally, and alert, keeping us on our toes until she passed just two weeks prior to turning 101 years old. Secondly, I am grounded as the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who gives me those “straight talk, no chaser” talks. My Dad also gives me the sensitivity I need when I work with my Veteran patients in understanding that everyone has a story. Finally, I am grounded as the daughter of a God-fearing woman, my mom, who instilled in me that with God all things are possible. She also taught me the importance of perseverance as she has had three careers as a high school teacher of French and Spanish; a college professor, and a minister. In fact, she went back to school to earn her Doctor of Ministry after retirement. I carry their stories with me because I always believe you must know where you have come from to know where you are going, especially if you’re trying to achieve greater. Because of the strong foundation set for me by these three individuals as well as my village which includes a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins, I have learned one thing for sure, the importance of standing on the Word of God. For in Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you hope for a future.”

It was made evident to me by my parents that education would be a priority in my life. As a native Detroiter (born and raised), there were many different paths that I could have taken, but they made sure to keep me on the straight and narrow. Throughout my school years this concept has remained a vital part of my being and has been the driving force behind my motivation to achieve my goal of becoming a dentist. After graduating from Martin Luther King, Jr., Sr High School in Detroit, Michigan, I was determined to go to a HBCU (Historically Black College or University.) I attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN for my Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and to attend Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington, DC, to earn my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).

Atlanta was always like a second home when visiting my aunt and uncle Yvonne and Bobbie Pringle during my years at Tennessee State University. They always housed me and my friends when we would come to visit for any activities going on in the “Atl”. Who would have known I would later move here and call Atlanta my home in 2016.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
While attending Tennessee State University, I was blessed with a student advisor, the late Dr. Lois Harlston, who played a pivotal role in my career development. She taught me to always “Fail forward,” meaning, if you have a failure, do not get stuck in it. Find the positive and let it propel you forward. She also taught me the importance of being a trailblazer. While in school, our Health Sciences Department only had an organization for students interested in becoming physicians, SNMA (Student National Medical Association.) I asked Dr. Harlston if we could include something for students like me interested in dentistry. Her reply was, “Why don’t you just do the research and start on it.” It was there that she guided me in establishing Tennessee State University’s USNDA (Undergraduate Student National Dental Association) chapter where I served as the founding member. She left me with a quote by Ralph Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave trail.”

After graduating from Tennessee State University, I did a post-baccalaureate program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. It was here where I was introduced to the concept of Health Disparities. It was at this point where I became sensitive to all the health disparities and the need for health equity…but I never knew how this would all apply to dentistry. I used to write down my ideas. This is where I came to know Habakkuk 2:2 “Write the vision, make it plain.” This is important even when you do not know how things will come together, you follow God’s Word as he is the author of our lives, and he will make your path plain. I always loved to give presentations and educate others on topics of interest. I would gather information and create a PowerPoint presentation to present to my mom and Aunt Geri Williams (who was like a second mom to me) on topics such as geriatric dentistry. Who knew I was preparing for my future? Ironically, within the summer of 2022, I have had the honor of speaking at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) on Oral Health for Non-Dental Professionals as well speaking at the American Dental Associations (ADA) 2022 Symposium on Oral Health of Older Adults: From Policy to Chairside: Improving Oral Healthcare of the Aging Population.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As I look back on my life, I can see God’s footprints carrying me along this journey. One must remember to not focus on your present circumstance for it is just one step in the journey God has for your life to fulfill your purpose. After my General Practice Residency (GPR), I completed an Advanced Geriatric Fellowship at the Bruce W. Carter Miami Veteran Affairs Medical Center. That step presented several trials of its own. I was able to persevere as I blazed another trail as I served as the first Dentist among Physicians and Psychiatrists in the Program. “My brethren, count it all joy when you come against various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 I trained and was later hired as a Research Investigator with the Geriatric Research and Education Clinical Center (GRECC) in the Miami VAMC. My area of focus was Health Disparities, Cultural Competence, and Health Equity. (Can you see the theme and how God brings things full circle.) I gained experience as a published dental researcher, educator, and clinician. In fact, I published a textbook “Oral Health and Aging” earlier this year with an international group of authors who contributed to the text.

After completing over a decade of service to a nation’s veterans at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, in 2019, I became a licensed financial representative. 2019 was a pivotal year for me as I also gave birth both physically and spiritually. I became a mom, birthing my first-born son, Bryson Emmanuel. This has proven to be my most cherished and important role, Motherhood. I also gave birth to my vision Mouth Mirrors LLC. This vision was birthed from the many years of observing my grandparents (both maternal and paternal) experience ageism in their healthcare. Mouth Mirrors LLC was established to bridge the gap through education and consultations between different knowledge bases which assists in treating the “whole” patient and not just their physical (medical), psych-social, and oral (dental) needs. I wanted to empower other healthcare workers of all disciplines of the importance of providing competent, compassionate care to our older adults. Aging Pearls Podcast which is sponsored by Mouth Mirrors was birthed as a platform to express my passion for the oral healthcare of our older adults using an interdisciplinary approach. I also use this platform to interview an international group geriatric experts and share their wisdom and pearls gained through experience.

What does success mean to you?
I define success in my role as a mom and community leader. I view these roles as imperative in giving back to our society. Instilling values, and the love of God in my son raising him to become a productive citizen as well as empowering our community to be their best in overcoming obstacles in social determinants.

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