By Alan Markoff
On 26 January, Dr. Charlecia Moore celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Cayman Dental. However, her first experience at the practice occurred more than a decade ago.
“I was still studying in the U.K. and I came home one summer and I said to myself, ‘Okay, I know [dentistry] is what I want to do. Let me start getting in some hours,'” she says.
The first practice to say yes to an observation internship was Cayman Dental, where Charlecia became the first of many mentees of Dr. Thomas Lerikos.
“She was with us a couple of weeks,” he says, noting that his young mentee only observed and didn’t provide any services to patients.
Charlecia went on earn a Bachelor of Science from the Royal Holloway University of London. After that, she enrolled in a doctorate programme in dentistry in Jamaica at the University of West Indies. As part of that programme, she was required to do internships. Cayman Dental, a practice that was established more than 25 years ago, was one of her first calls and “Dr. Tom” gladly agreed.
After spending the better part of two months interning at Cayman Dental, where she assisted Dr. Tom, Charlecia went on to internships at other Grand Cayman dental practices. However, in the years since her first summer internship, she had developed a special bond with her first mentor.
“Every time when she came back from school at Christmastime, she’d stop in and we’d have a chitchat,” says Dr. Tom. “We’ve had a relationship going for a long time.”
A year ago last month, the relationship that started with a young university student led to Dr. Charlecia Moore’s joining Cayman Dental as a dental surgeon.
A career path
Charlecia’s interest in becoming a dentist started when she was much younger making regular visits to an orthodontic clinic when she was a student at St. Ignatius Catholic School.
“I originally set out to do orthodontics and then when I got into school I decided to stick to general dentistry,” she says. “But I knew from way back when that’s what I wanted to do.”
Once she developed her relationship with Cayman Dental, there was the idea that Charlecia could join the practice if she completed dentistry school and wanted to come on board.
“That was the plan, if it worked out, but there’s a million things that can happen,” Dr. Tom says.
Something did happen.
“She was in Jamaica for five years and as it turns out, she did meet a nice young man,” he said.
Charlecia admits there was a time when she didn’t know what she’d do, but in the end, it all went as planned. Charlecia came back to Grand Cayman and started at Cayman Dental, which had moved from the Mirco Centre — now known as Cannon Place — to Camana Bay three years ago, while Charlecia was still in Jamaica.
Dr. Tom is happy to have his first mentee join him at Cayman Dental and he’s proud that Charlecia is not only a capable dentist technically, but that she also has the kind of demeanour required in the field.
“She’s calm, calm, calm, calm, calm. I can’t stress that enough,” he says, adding that part of being a good dentist is being able to project a calm competency to patients, especially when the dentist is young and just out of dental school, like Charlecia.
It’s a perfect environment for Charlecia to learn the “tricks of the trade” through experience, something Dr. Tom says is invaluable.
“I think the hardest thing to learn, for me anyway when I just got out of school, was how to position yourself,” he says. “Everyone coming out of school knows what to do, but sometimes the hardest part is learning the little tricks you discover along the way.”
Of the soil
Having a Caymanian dental surgeon join a local practice is significant in itself, but having a female generational-Caymanian working as a dentist in the Cayman Islands is even more so. Neither Charlecia nor Dr. Tom know of another female Caymanian who has worked in the Cayman Islands as a dentist.
Being a Caymanian brings a comfort level with Caymanian patients.
“I think it helps,” she says, adding that some patients know her family.
“One came in and she knew my grandmother,” Charlecia says. “She was just over the moon to know that I was here and I was doing this.”
Dr. Tom says he hears many supportive comments about Charlecia joining the practice.
“There’s a lot of pride about it with lot of people, in particular, with older Caymanians,” he says.
Charlecia says she’d like to see other young Caymanians follow in her footsteps.
“Something I want to do is go out in the schools and give little pep talks and say, ‘Think of other career options.’ Because some people forget that a medical career option or even a dental career is just right at your fingertips. It’s always going to be in high demand.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline “Nurturing a career in dentistry.”
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians. He is a movie buff who spends many an evening catching a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!