College of Science

From student volunteer to mentor: Retired dentist James Padgett gives back 


James Padgett’s dental career has come full circle.

Early on as a dental school student, Padgett volunteered at a crown and bridge laboratory for a few weeks to learn more about the technology used there.

Now, the retired Greenwood dentist volunteers at various free dental clinics in the state and shares his expertise with the Clemson University community through Tigers on Call.

Tigers on Call, hosted by Health Professions Advising, began in 2015 as a one-day event to help Clemson students interested in medical careers connect with Clemson alumni and friends working in various health care professions.

This year’s event is expanding to two days and will be held April 4-5. The event features keynote speaker Chad Richardson ’15, a resident physician at Emory University School of Medicine. It also includes a pre-health fair where students can explore various health professions and talk to officials from professional schools, suture clinics, military wound certification, medical school application workshops and roundtable discussions.

“For the past three years, I have participated in Tigers on Call because I enjoy working with and mentoring Clemson pre-dental students,” said Padgett. “I enjoy answering questions they may have concerning dental school and dentistry in general, because dentistry has been a good choice for me.”

Padgett knew he wanted to become a dentist since he was a teenager. Having admired his own dentist’s work ethic, he sought a path into the same profession. Because he had always been interested in science, he took his counselor’s suggestion and pursued a pre-med major at Clemson.

Throughout his over 40-year-long career in dentistry, he has seen it all, from the ups and downs of patient life to new developments in the industry. Not only has technology become more and more advanced, but the workplace environment itself has evolved.

“There are more franchises all over the nation that employ dentists now, which limits those dentists going into private practice. The cost involved in going to professional schools has skyrocketed as well, leading to debt becoming a major problem for dental graduates,” he said.

For Padgett, dentistry was more than just a career, it was a way to build a life. By passing on his knowledge, he’s helping others do the same.

“Dentistry was a great path for me. It allowed me to be my own boss, to make a good living and to be a positive difference in the Greenwood community,” he said. “I have had a good life here, raising three children, and now enjoying my two granddaughters. I am even trying to convince one to go into dentistry.”

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