Lt. Lupfer smiles in his dress uniform
Lt. Lupfer

On July 14, we announced our Delta Dental Community Care Foundation 2020 Student Leadership Award winners. These graduating dental students exemplify our value of service, and we are proud to provide support as they embark on their careers. Lt. John “Jack” Lupfer from Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine has chosen a path of service to his community and his country as a Lieutenant in the Navy. This month as we honor Veterans and service members, we wanted to highlight Jack’s journey and talk to him about what lies ahead as a dentist, a Naval Officer and an active member of his community.

What are your plans for the future?

During dental school I made the decision to pursue an additional dual-master’s degree program, and I graduated in May with not only my DDS, but also a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) and Master’s Business Administration (MBA).

I was also fortunate enough to be selected to go to dental school on a United States Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) scholarship. Upon graduating from dental school, I commissioned to a Lieutenant (O-3) in the Navy and recently moved to San Diego, California where I am completing a one-year General Practice Residency (GPR) at the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD). After this year, I will have an additional four years to serve within the Navy Dental Corps as part of my scholarship and am eager for this to further broaden my horizons and take me all over the world. I am truly excited for this opportunity and view it as both a way to give back to my country and provide care to a unique population that I normally would not be able to serve, such as enlisted servicemen, their families, retirees and civilians in humanitarian and disaster areas.

If I do not make a career of my time in the Navy, I will go into a private practice. I plan to remain involved with academia, volunteering my time at a nearby school or residency program, teaching and passing my experiences on to others. Additionally, I would like to work with community health centers to create new programs for populations in need, and potentially start my own venture to address specific dental public health problems. Lastly, a big part of my dental school experience included my involvement with organized dentistry, and I would be remiss if I didn’t continue to be involved with the ADA and my local associations.

Can you talk about the importance of service in your life?

The ideals of service to those less fortunate than I am were instilled in me as a child by my parents. From a young age through my time in high school, college and then dental school, I have always sought ways to give back to those in need. My involvement in dental-related outreach work spans from local projects to international voyages, including our school’s Mobile Dental Van, tri-annual Give Kids a Smile Days and service trips. I was honored to serve on a team of nine students and three dentists during the Summer of 2019 when we traveled more than two days to the island of Madagascar. During our three weeks there we provided necessary dental care to the Malagasy people, and I continued a public health research project—performing dental health needs assessments. Collectively, our team treated 800 patients and performed more than 1500 extractions of severely decayed teeth.

For the past four years I have participated in the Long Island Oral Cancer Foundation’s Annual 5k Walk/Run, and, in 2018, I was one of three students on the SDM’s planning committee. In this role, I registered more than 70 students to participate in the event and motivated them to raise over $4,000 for the cause—a school record. Furthermore, I have made a point to always participate in our local outreach efforts supporting the ADA Foundation’s nation-wide ‘Give Kids A Smile’ initiative, providing essential oral healthcare to underserved populations.

Since my time as a predental student at Stony Brook I have supported the dental school’s student-driven fundraising initiatives for its global outreach trips. I orchestrated the school’s first-ever International Dental Outreach Golf Outing to benefit all of the school’s outreach programs, where my class’ efforts raised a total of more than $30,000 for the Global Oral Health Programs, making it the most successful student fundraising event in the school’s history.

When deciding to pursue a career in dentistry I knew I wanted to do more with my role as a healthcare provider. Through supplemental hours spent acquiring knowledge outside of dental school for my additional master’s degrees, I hope to implement more preventative clinical healthcare work and research! One day, I want to pursue serving on the Board of Directors for a large-scale dental-driven community health initiative. I plan to incorporate the knowledge gained from these degrees into my work as a resident and beyond—especially if ever called upon to serve as a Dental Corps Officer on the USNS Mercy or Comfort.

What does it mean to you to be recognized as a Delta Dental Student Leader?

John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” I fully support this notion. In dental school, we as students tend to focus on things and get tunnel vision. We fixate on our grades, worry about our patients’ well-being, stress over completing clinical requirements, incessantly study for exams and Boards, ponder over if we want to specialize and apply to residencies, and get caught up in competencies and taking licensure exams before graduating. The list goes on! All these things come with good intentions, yet too often we forget to step back, breathe, and reflect on all the things that we have accomplished and discovered about ourselves along the way. Thus, I was truly honored and humbled when I found out I was the recipient of the Delta Dental Student Leadership Award. I feel fortunate to have had such a meaningful and enjoyable time in dental school, because I have been given the opportunity to dream, learn, do, and become more through my varied leadership roles and service involvements.