“Washington College was the best four years of my life, hands down. It gave me the social tools, professional networking ability, and leadership skills to succeed in dental school and ultimately as a practicing specialist,” says Dr. Michael Virts ‘02, a pediatric dentist in Frederick, Maryland.
“There’s so much opportunity for leadership at Washington College, compared to bigger schools where biology majors and premed students can’t be involved in the range of activities that I did: music, intramural athletics, student government, and the Greek system.”
In fact, Michael traces his tremendous start in pediatric dentistry to freshman year, when he landed his first dental internship with the help of the Biology Department.
“In 1999, Dr. Joseph Camacho, a pediatric dentist in my hometown of Frederick, agreed to mentor me. Before I knew it, I had been there six years and had graduated from dental school.” Today Michael is the only other full-time dentist in Dr. Camacho’s practice, and will spend the duration of his career there.
“My family and friends have always been tremendously supportive of my decision to become a specialist. Academically speaking, however, if it hadn’t been for the Biology Department helping me write that first letter, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I’m extraordinarily grateful and will never take it for granted.”
After graduating from Washington College in 2002, Michael took two planned years off before enrolling in dental school. He worked full-time, apprenticing and learning the dental business and unique aspects of pediatric dentistry from Dr. Camacho.
Michael then received his D.D.S. degree in 2008 and his Specialty Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 2010 from the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore, which also included extensive training with the J.L. Kernan and Johns Hopkins Cleft Palate teams.
In dental school, Michael served as President of his class for three years, and as President of the student body during his senior year. “You can’t be shy as a dentist,” says Michael. “It just doesn’t work.”
“I was able to become a dentist not just because I majored in biology, but because Washington College gave me a remarkably broad experience—from playing in bands and intramural athletics, to student government, fraternity life, and fishing and canoeing on the Chester River.”
Michael organized numerous community service projects on and off campus for Washington College’s Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. He reflects that this developed his leadership skills and inspired him to pursue overseas dental missions in Russia and a local, yearly “Give Kids a Smile” free dental program. Michael now serves as the Dental Liaison to the Frederick County Public Schools’ School-Based Health Center program.
His years playing jazz, classical, rock, and house music at Washington College also paid off. He “left his mark” in dental school by starting a rock band and now plays semi-professional sax and bass for “InciDental,” a group of dentists and dental students in Baltimore.
Michael maintains active memberships in the American Society for Dental Ethics, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Dental Association, Maryland State Dental Association, and the Frederick County Dental Society. He is currently pursuing Diplomate certification with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.