By Lt. James Linkous
My name is Lt. James Linkous. Born in New York, but raised at Cape Canaveral, Florida. My parents raised me on a Florida “beach bum” mentality with a strong work ethic. As a result, I quickly understood that learning is a lifelong journey and that it’s best to enjoy the ride. From that lesson, I pursued higher education. I did my undergraduate education at the University of Florida and majored in zoology. I then pursued a doctorate of dental medicine degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. I’m currently a third year resident at the Navy Postgraduate Dental School, completing my education in prosthodontics. I’ve also received a master’s degree in oral biology from the Uniformed Services University.
Prosthodontics is a fantastic profession to be a part of in the Navy. I regularly tell patients, “I want to remove disease, restore function, and have you smile more often.” Every healthcare professional deals with health, but how many health professionals can say that they change a patient’s ability to express happiness? Beyond the traditional goals of allopathic medicine, we have the additional goal of smile design. The scholarly aspect of medicine coincides with the inventive aspect of aesthetics. Everyone wants to smile and smile often, and prosthodontics is the profession that looks at every aspect of the patient’s oral health to achieve those objectives.
A productive Sailor is the result of a medically and dentally complete Sailor. Our military needs to be at their maximum health in order to perform their functions, and that entails the whole individual. It encompasses general medicine, dental medicine, psychological health, sleep health, chronic pain, etc. Prosthodontics touches a little bit of all of that. In order to reestablish a patient’s dentition, we have to assess so many aspects about the patient in order to maximize the prognosis of the treatment. This holistic nature to the profession not only symbolizes but also actively performs to the goals of Navy Medicine: Readiness, Value, and Jointness. Our treatment results in a complete, ready-and-able military workforce. Our treatment also often capitalizes on the value of treatment, providing care that is about the best prognosis for the individual. And very frequently, the profession has to work in collaboration with other professions such as oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics, sleep medicine, gastroenterology, and with other military branches to provide the most comprehensive care possible.
The most rewarding aspect of Navy Medicine is helping the patients. I often see patients who are very anxious and worried about seeing a Dentist. When I am able to synthesize a treatment plan that is customized to the patient’s needs, watching the patient’s reaction is what makes this job rewarding. And even more rewarding is when my treatment has been completed. I often hear patients say that they “cannot stop smiling.”
Simply stated, my goal in Navy Medicine is to restore. It’s to restore a patient’s health, restore a patient’s function, restore a patient’s smile and restore a patient’s confidence. I am extremely grateful to do this for those who serve.
I’m Lt. James Linkous. I am Navy Medicine