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NEWS | March 8, 2024

Passion, purpose and dental care: Capt. Anna Olson's odyssey

By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

Within the corridors of Dunn Dental Clinic at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Capt. Anna Olson strides with purpose, her determination evident in each step.

Born into a family with Southern roots, Olson’s fascination for dentistry ignited during her formative years. Inspired by her grandfather’s service as a pilot in the Vietnam War, she found herself drawn to the intersection of healthcare and military service. Her journey to this moment is a testament to unwavering dedication and a deep-rooted passion for serving others.

Olson, a dentist assigned to the 59th Dental Squadron, shared her commitment to highlighting the importance of oral health. More significantly, she emphasized the need to educate individuals with actionable steps to maintain dental care and overall well-being. According to her, understanding the interconnection between oral health and overall well-being is paramount.

"I actually knew that I wanted to be a dentist practically my whole life," she recalls. "I've always been drawn to helping others and being a dentist allows me to do just that, while also serving my country."

Throughout her academic journey, Olson remained committed to her goal. In high school, she crossed paths with Col. Casey Campbell, a long-term mentor whose guidance introduced her to the Health Professions Scholarship Program.

"Col. Campbell planted the seed for Air Force dentistry," she recalls gratefully. "His mentorship paved the way for my journey.”

Following her undergraduate studies at Grand Canyon University, Olson pursued her dental education at Midwestern University in Phoenix, Arizona, where her passion for dentistry flourished. In June 2023, after years of rigorous academic pursuit, she graduated from dental school and was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Air Force — a culmination of her lifelong dream.

With a thirst for knowledge and a commitment to excellence, Olson eagerly anticipates her next challenge: the Air Force periodontics residency — a three-year program that will sharpen her expertise as a gum specialist.

"It's a pivotal moment in my career," she affirms. "I look forward to deepening my expertise and serving my fellow servicemen and women."

Olson shared her immense gratitude for the multitude of mentors who have shaped her journey, beginning with her parents.

“Despite any uncertainties, they've stood firmly behind me, encouraging me to pursue my ambitions,” she reflected. “Their support has been the driving force behind my success, and for that, I'm truly grateful. It's been a lifelong journey to get to this point, so it's very surreal to be at the other end of all of that."

Amidst her professional endeavors, Olson finds joy in home renovations, a newfound hobby she shares with her husband, a general surgery intern at Brooke Army Medical Center, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

"My husband has been my rock," she acknowledges. “Together, we navigate the challenges of our demanding professions, understanding the sacrifices required to support one another and that support has been pivotal in reaching the milestones we've achieved.”

As National Dentist Day and Women's History Month are celebrated, Capt. Anna Olson stands as a beacon of inspiration — an embodiment of dedication, compassion, and unwavering service. With each patient she treats and each life she touches, she leaves an indelible mark, bridging the worlds of dentistry and military service with grace and resilience.