When Dr. Jason Skinner isn’t basking in the quiet calm of the outdoors, he’s relishing in the incredible technological advancements that have kept his office an evolving workspace over the last three decades. The father of five (and grandfather of five more) left his hometown of Alberta, Canada to study dentistry in Utah and Virginia before settling down with his own practice in Murray, Utah. Though he received his degree many years ago, Dr. Skinner says he’s never stopped learning, and that’s why we’re excited to name him our September Dental Health Partner of the Month.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a dentist and why?
I decided early on that I didn’t want to get to college and make a lot of changes. I picked about five things that I was interested in and narrowed them down one by one. I wanted to fly jets in the Air Force or be a park ranger or a chiropractor. The last one standing was dentistry. I had a family friend who was a dentist that I looked up to and admired, and he made it sound really interesting to me. Once I made the decision, I did what I needed to do, and I really enjoyed my time at dental school.
What do you love about being a dentist?
I enjoy owning and running my own business. I prefer to be in charge of my own destiny, and I enjoy making decisions and solving problems. Dentistry has countless problems each day that you’re solving.
Additionally, I love building and making things with my hands and dentistry allows that every time you sit down with a patient. The creative juices get flowing when you’re doing dentistry.
On top of that, I love the technology. We’re in a day and age where technology is such a part of our lives. I’ve been in dentistry for 30 years if you count dental school, and there have been so many changes in technology and the way that we practice and perform dentistry. Most of these changes are for the better. They make things safer, faster and more comfortable for the patient. They’ve improved the practice greatly.
How did you get to be so interested in technology?
I could discuss this for an hour, but I’ll try to sum it up: It’s really, really enjoyable to take somebody whose teeth are a mess through the process of cleanings and restorations and maybe some braces or Invisalign. They come in feeling bad about themselves, and you can take them from a difficult place to place where they love their teeth and are proud of their smile. That’s how you develop a really great relationship with your patients. They have a better view of themselves with a new smile and a new confidence. That’s just fun and rewarding.
Technology is involved in all of that. In day-to-day dentistry, we’re using digital scans and x-rays and cameras and digital models. Everything is safer and more accurate. It all works together to make the dental process better.
What are the biggest challenges in the industry?
Staffing is a standard challenge: making sure they’re well trained and available, especially with the difficult employment situation in the country. Our economy is pretty hot in Utah and not as many people can come help out. That’s a challenge.
Working with patients and their insurance or patients who are uncomfortable with the dental office — those are the typical day-to-day challenges in dentistry.
What advice would you give young dentists just starting out?
Embrace new technology and embrace continuing education and learning. I’ve found through the years and many, many courses in medical and dental education that it can cost a lot, but you can also learn a lot. You’re investing in your own skills and your own knowledge. I really appreciate the consistent learning throughout my career. It often seems like the more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know and how much more you want to continue to learn.
How do you balance your work and family life?
It’s been a challenge to have a good work-life balance, but dentistry has been good to me in that way. I found that working more than four days a week was rough on my neck, back and shoulders, so I decided to work four days a week early. It’s allowed me to spend Fridays with the kids and doing little trips to Bear Lake, which we love. We’ve enjoyed that time over many years.
We’ve been able to have this family time because of the good schedule that dentists have. I think dentists have been known and criticized for those kinds of office schedules, but I think everyone can see the value of having Fridays off. It’s a great way to get caught up on all the things you can’t do during a regular work week.
How are you adjusting to life as a grandfather?
Grandpa life is the best! There’s no better time and it’s been great having all these grandbabies coming along, even if they’re coming quick. It’s been a lot of fun. I love that part.
Congratulations to Dr. Skinner on being our Dental Health Partner of the Month! Learn more about Skinner Dental.