Dr. Nehi and Dr. Sienna share their best advice for balancing your career, relationships, and parenthood.
First comes undergrad, then comes dental school, then comes a DDS with a baby carriage. Isn’t that how it goes? I think we’re missing a few steps. If you’re a dental student or dentist trying to balance dating and marriage, parenthood, or anything in between, we have the perfect article for you. Go sneak away in the break room if you’re at work, or go in that formal living room for some alone time if you’re at home, and sit back and enjoy this story of two dentists' journey through dental school, dating, marriage, and (newly!) parenthood. Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending.
Let’s start by introducing Dr. Nehi Ogbevoen and Dr. Sienna Palmer. They were kind enough to hop on a Saturday morning Zoom call with me despite their busy schedules and fleeting weekend time. I was greeted by welcoming smiles and genuine excitement to share their story. One of the better Zoom calls I’ve had. (Not that they’re not all magical.)
Dr. Sienna grew up in Orange County and went to SMU where she earned an undergraduate degree in Business. She was first introduced to dentistry through a family friend and immediately fell in love with the artistic and patient facing side of the career. Dr. Nehi grew up in Missouri and attended USC for his undergraduate degree in Public Health. He originally considered engineering, but also was drawn to the blend of art, science, and business in dentistry and loved the instant gratification of working with patients. USC dental school is where their story together begins.
Dr. Nehi and Dr. Sienna were just nervous first year dental students when they met at a beach barque the week before orientation at USC. They were connected through a mutual friend and made lasting connections with the other dental students they met that night too.
They started out as good friends, and enjoyed just being around each other. They recalled how they were advised not to get into relationships with someone in your class. Their dental class was close and it could be a recipe for disaster. Avoid that awkward post-break drama, and the inevitable pairing with your ex in lab. But their relationship was great for the both of them because they were able to understand each other’s stressors, and help each other navigate dental school. They also shared that relationships are what drive them and keep them both motivated. Their advice is to keep the people who bring you joy and energy close.
Here’s their advice to dental students wondering if getting into a relationship is worth it:
Take your time to make the decision. You worked so hard to get where you are so make sure that anyone you are giving your time and attention to is adding to your life, and not taking away from it. It’s also crucial to have a support system when you’re going through dental school. Having someone by your side for the ups and downs can definitely make your dark days a little brighter.
When I asked Dr. Nehi and Dr. Sienna if it was ever difficult to find time to pursue a relationship in dental school, they said that since they were often doing the same things, it wasn’t much of a challenge. They recommend you set apart time for yourselves and for non-school activities. You need to check out from the emotional and physical stress that comes with dental school. Don’t forget to keep doing the things that make you, you.
They also said to not take yourself too seriously. Enjoy exploring LA if you're at USC or UCLA, or whichever city you’re located in, and spend time with others to help lessen the stress of school.
They also shared that since dentistry is such a passion for both of them, they are happy that it comes home with them. Dr. Nehi is an Orthodontist and Dr. Sienna is a General Dentist, and they enjoy learning about each other’s fields. They think that talking about work at home can be healthy when you also have other passions and interests you do together. (They love to golf together!) They enjoy providing valuable advice and support to each other as well.
Since Dr. Nehi and Dr. Sienna have become parents, they said that their motivation in life is now to create a better life for their daughter and their future. It’s definitely harder to leave the house in the morning, but it brought a new sense of excitement for their future and goals. They both mentioned how they now work smarter, not harder. When time is so precious, you really consider what is most important each day.
Here’s their advice for parents balancing careers and family life:
Be clear about your career goals and where you want to spend your time. Write them down so you know what you want to accomplish with your time. Then, you can spend as much time as you possibly can with your family. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s from family or friends, they will be happy to help during those crazy times.
You should be prepared to communicate even more with your partner. Especially if you are both working, you need to be aware of each others’ plans each day. It made them stronger as a couple and helped improve their communication skills. Also a heads up that everyone at work will ask you about your new baby (a lot!).
Dr. Nehi and Dr. Sienna shared some of their favorite resources for parents and dental students and professionals. Check them out below!