In this week's profile of rural dentists building amazing careers, Dr. Sara Stuefen shows us how she enjoys the best of both worlds: a rural practice and an urban lifestyle.
As a member of the ADA’s New Dentist Committee, Dr. Stuefen often spoke to dental students who assume they need to practice in an urban area to live the type of life they want. But she’s quick to point out, “When you graduate, you don’t know what practice style is right for you until you try. There are so many great opportunities in small towns, and you can afford to have the latest technology!”
She also dispels a common misconception: “Rural doesn’t have to mean four hours to the nearest Target. Besides, you can order everything online these days.”
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Dr. Stuefen wanted to work in a small town where she could know her patients and make a difference. “I know I flourish in a smaller environment,” she says. “I like feeling connected to my patients and being able to rely on myself.”
However, her engineer husband needed to be in a more urban area to find a job. (This was a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to realize how many jobs can actually be done from home.)
So they compromised: Dr. Stuefen bought a practice in Vinton, Iowa (population 4,900) and the couple moved to Cedar Rapids (with 132,000 people), just 40 minutes away.
It’s turned out to be the perfect fit for all their needs.