Media Contact: Amanda Markow at 601-984-4878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the 35th Annual Dental Alumni and Friends held Friday, February 10 at The Fairview Inn in Jackson, Dr. Fanasy Deming-Jefcoat was honored as the 2017 Dental Alumnus of the Year.
In spite of running her own periodontics practice as well as teaching part time at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, and dedicating time to several professional boards, Deming-Jefcoat said that she was shocked to be chosen for this honor.
“I was completely surprised when I heard the news, especially since this honor usually seems to go to someone much farther along in their career,” said Deming-Jefcoat.
Deming-Jefcoat knew from age 5 that she wanted to do something in the medical field. She grew up in southern Louisiana, and received her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Mississippi College before attending dental school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “Mississippi College was a good fit for me, and had a great program, and I felt so at home in Mississippi. I was thrilled to be able to stay here [for dental school],” she said.
Following graduation at UMMC, Deming-Jefcoat went on to earn her masters and a Certificate of Periodontics at Baylor College of Dentistry, later earning board certification in periodontology.
Her next endeavor was starting her own practice in Madison.
“I started from scratch, and it's a tough start-up,” said Deming-Jefcoat. “I feel very blessed to have established a practice and relationships with other dentists. It's all about relationships, with other dentists and our patients.”
Deming-Jefcoat performs a procedure on Robert Sekul of Brandon at her practice in Madison with the help of Dental Assistant Katie Neal.
While she was building her practice, she reached out to one of her favorite professors, Dr. Frank Serio, former UMMC dental school chair of Periodontics and Preventive Science, to see how she could get involved with UMMC again.
“I was so appreciative of everything I had there, and I wanted to give back,” said Deming-Jefcoat.
She began as a volunteer, and then in 2007 she officially joined as part-time faculty. She teaches students every Monday afternoon, and has some lectureship responsibilities as well.
“She's an outstanding part-time faculty for us, and is incredibly well-liked and respected by our students and other faculty,” said Dr. David Felton, dean of the School of Dentistry. “She's a great asset to our clinical teaching efforts in her specialty area, and a terrific role model for all students, and in particular, for our female students.”
Deming-Jefcoat with Dr. David Felton (left), Dean of the School of Dentistry, and Dr. Acie Whitlock (right), current Dental Alumni Board President at the Dental Alumni and Friends dinner Friday, February 10.
As a dental student, Deming-Jefcoat was a member of the American Student Dental Association, and through that she learned about what students in other dental programs were experiencing. It made her appreciate UMMC even more, especially because she and her classmates had so much hands-on experience, and she wanted to help other students receive the same training. She also liked that the smaller class size allowed the students to really get to know each other. Several of her classmates are now not only friends, but colleagues.
“She's always been an excellent student,” said former classmate Dr. Sarah Carlisle, who owns a general dentistry practice in Madison. “She pushes herself to be the best and really loves to learn. She was always willing to help by studying together or helping another student with lab work they may not have understood.”
This helpful spirit has carried over into her teaching, and her students clearly appreciate her, having voted her Best Part-time Professor at UMMC three times.
“It's a huge honor,” said Deming-Jefcoat. “It means that you're making an impact, and that's who we're here to serve.”
She especially appreciated her periodontics classes with Serio. “He was tough and pushed us,” she said. “My favorite parts of dental school were anything surgical. I really liked biology and healing, so periodontics was a good fit.”
Today, Deming-Jefcoat has had her own periodontics practice for 10 years. Her number one focus is giving her patients excellent attention.
“We have patients come here who are very fearful. We try to treat them well; it's part of our mission to treat everyone the way we would want to be treated.”
Deming-Jefcoat checks over the dental cleaning of D3 Jay Ballard on patient Hubert Miller of Bryam.
She said that ultimately, everything she does is from the heart. Her love of people and helping them find relief from pain and other issues drives her on a daily basis to give the best care she can.
Her friend and colleague, Dr. Stephanie Tullos, of Tullos Family Dentistry in Raleigh, Mississippi, agreed. “She treats everyone equally and she's able to relate to patients of all backgrounds, education levels, everything.”
She added, “She's extremely well thought of in the dental field. People recognized that she's one of the few who can do it all. She's a natural born leader and well rounded.”
The love that drives her daily practice has also led Deming-Jefcoat to mission work. Her first mission trip was to Honduras in college. “It was so rewarding to help people get immediate relief from pain,” she said. Since that first trip, she has continued to volunteer on mission trips, most recently to Haiti, through her church, Pinelake in Madison.
In addition to all of this, she also serves as an officer for the Mississippi Dental Association and the Mississippi Association of Women Dentists. She recently started a three-year term serving as the speaker for MDA, and has been on the executive committee for the past five years. She serves as the budget chair of the finance committee for MAWD.
While she might have been shocked by her award, people around Deming-Jefcoat see all that she does, and were not surprised. “I admire that even though she is very busy in her practice and her home life, she still dedicates her time to organized dentistry and to her students at the School of Dentistry,” said Carlisle. “She runs her own practice, is an excellent mother to her boys, and still takes time to give back to the community through mission trips and volunteering with a church dental clinic.”
As a mom, wife, business owner, professor, and more, Deming-Jefcoat knows a thing or two about balance. With that in mind, her number one piece of advice to current students would be, “Keep pursuing your goals and following your dreams. Don't give up. And also have a healthy work-life balance.”
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