When Laura Rushford, DMD17, began her predoctoral program at HSDM she knew she wanted to craft beautiful smiles. A desire to help patients regain their smiles has been a driving force for Rushford ever since. Throughout her DMD training she volunteered with programs like Operation Mouthguard, Project Bridge Clinic, and ACTION Clinic, where she worked with patients who may not otherwise have access to dental care. In the Harvard Dental Center’s Teaching Practices she refined her skills and became curious about how she could further help patients by learning more advanced techniques.
“During my clinical experiences, I became intrigued with the complexity of treatment planning and learning about new dental materials, techniques, and technologies, Rushford said. “At the end of my 3rd year, I knew that I wanted to continue my education so I could learn more about the rehabilitation and maintenance of my patients’ comfort, function, and esthetics.”
A new fellowship in prosthodontics enabled Rushford to take her career to the next step. After graduating with her DMD degree in 2017, she was accepted into HSDM’s 3-year residency program leading to an MMSc degree in oral biology with a certificate in prosthodontics. Financial aid from the Pelletier Family Fellowship in Prosthodontics is giving her the chance to pursue her dream without the burden of significant debt.
The Pelletier Family Fellowship in Prosthodontics was established by Lionel Pelletier, MMSc87, PD87, DMD90 shortly before his death in 2015. Rushford is the very first recipient of the fellowship. Like Rushford, Pelletier was also a DMD graduate of Harvard, and enjoyed teaching students. As former director of HSDM’s Advanced Graduate Prosthodontics program, Dr. Pelletier was known for his warm personality and caring nature.
“Lionel had a passion for prosthodontics, and wanted to make it possible for students to get into the program without the burden of debt,” said Vice Dean John Da Silva, DMD87, MPH87, SM92, PD89, PD91. “He wanted to build a legacy for the program and have students continue to build it, that’s why Laura, who received her DMD from HSDM, is a perfect fit for the fellowship.”
The fellowship covers $45,000 of annual expenses for a postdoctoral student conducting work in the Advanced Graduate Education (AGE) specialty of prosthodontics. The fellowship’s name pays tribute to Lionel Pelletier’s parents Drs. Bernard and Jacqueline Pelletier, who were also doctors. Pelletier’s generosity and foresight is already making an impact in the life of an AGE student and in the future of the specialty.
“Having financial assistance while being surrounded by a supportive community at HSDM has set the foundation for my future career as a prosthodontist,” said Rushford. “After completing my residency, I hope to work in private practice while having a part time position as a clinical educator.”