Greenville resident Casey Park is a May 2023 graduate of the School of Dentistry.
Greenville resident Casey Park is a May 2023 graduate of the School of Dentistry.
Main Content

#UMMCGrad2023: Residency, then private practice in Casey Park’s future

Published on Monday, May 15, 2023

By: Ruth Cummins

Photos By: Jay Ferchaud/ UMMC Communications

Dentistry, Casey Park says, is both oral health care and a form of art.

That’s one of the reasons Park, a Greenville native, is making it her career.

“Dentistry is a combination of being in a health field and being an artist,” said Park, who graduates May 26 from the School of Dentistry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “That can range from waxing teeth to preparing them for a crown or restoration. There’s art in the materials we use as well, for different situations and different patients.”

A graduate of Millsaps College and Mississippi College, Park said she knew early on that she wanted to serve others, and wanted a health care career. “It was between medicine and dentistry, and I had the opportunity to shadow my hometown dentist,” she said. “I absolutely loved it.

“His interaction with patients and the treatment he provided really helped me solidify my decision. I also wanted to something to do with my hands.”

She’s gotten plenty of experience in treating patients compassionately and effectively during her four years in the School of Dentistry.

“What brings me happiness is seeing my patients and all of the interaction that I get to have with them,” Park said. “They’re giving me the opportunity to treat them, and they’re instilling their trust in me to take care of them.

“I get to learn so much from them. The relationships I’ve created with my patients are very special.”

Pia Chaterjee Kirk

“Casey Park has the demeanor to make everyone her friend. She is warm and empathetic, and her patients adore her,” said Dr. Pia Chatterjee Kirk, chair of the Department of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences.

Park has shown leadership in her involvement in student clubs, student government, the Jackson Free Clinic and research projects, Kirk said. “She is described as helpful and kind by her classmates,” she said.

“It’s bittersweet,” Park said of graduation. “I’m really excited to be moving on to the real world, but I’m really going to miss the relationships with the faculty and my classmates.”

That includes group meetings to lend each other support or bounce off questions about their studies or treating patients. “It’s more like a family,” she said of the group. “It’s part of our requirements. We talk about clinical situations, and it’s a place to help students with anything they need.”

Kirk, Park’s clinical problem-solving advisor for four years, said she’s found Park to be “one of the most conscientious people, a great listener, a team player, with an excellent work ethic.” 

Moments to relax in the final stretch of her dental education aren’t plentiful, “but if I have any free time, I love to spend it with my family and friends, just sitting around talking or watching a movie,” Park said. “The older I get, the more I realize I have less time with them.”

Park is headed to a one-year residency at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in advanced general education in dentistry. “I’d like to have more experience in treating medically complex patients,” she said.

Her fiancé, Germantown High teacher Tyler Hargrave, will accompany her to Birmingham. “We haven’t set a date, but we’re looking forward to getting married in summer 2024,” she said.

Beyond that, “I’m figuring it out,” Park said. “I’ll most likely go into private practice. My brother is starting dental school this year in a different state, and we want to open up a family practice together.”