Nicholas Callahan ’06

JOB TITLE: Chief resident, oral and maxillofacial surgery
ORGANIZATION: Kings County Hospital Center
LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York
GRADUATE DEGREES: M.P.H., University of Pittsburgh; D.M.D., University of Pittsburgh; M.D., SUNY Downstate

What was your first position after college? I went straight from Trinity into dental school. I ended up at the University of Pittsburgh because it offers students a great combination of academics, clinical experience, and research. I was leaning toward a career as an academic surgeon, so I thought I needed a strong background in these areas.

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? I felt extremely prepared for every aspect of graduate school. My liberal arts education taught me to think critically and to be able to solve complex problems. More importantly, I felt like I was a well-rounded individual. My research experience was especially valuable. It allowed me to stand out from my peers in graduate school. I was able to effortlessly transition to a lab at Pittsburgh because my Trinity research experience gave me the fundamentals to succeed.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? I think the best thing one can do is to get involved in as much as you can. College is the time to make yourself as well-rounded as you can possibly be. I think it’s important to get experience in what you want to do but also not to limit yourself to just your chosen field. You have the rest of your life to do one thing; college is the time to explore.

The most important way to succeed in graduate school is to learn how to study. The people who did the best in all of my programs were not the ones who came in with the most knowledge. It was the people who knew how to be active learners and the people who knew how to manage their time effectively.

What is the biggest misconception about your field? I think most people are confused about what oral and maxillofacial surgeons do; we are mostly known as just those doctors that put you to sleep and take out your wisdom teeth. The scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery is extremely broad ranging, from addressing complex craniofacial trauma, cancer resections, facial reconstruction, repairing congenital craniofacial disorders, and, of course, taking out wisdom teeth.