Uppgaard receives Stuebner award for women in oral surgery

Rachel Uppgaard, DDS

Rachel Uppgaard, DDS, clinical associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, received the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Elaine A. Stuebner Scholars Award for 2022. 

The Stuebner Scholars Award is an essay-based award that honors one female oral and maxillofacial surgeon each year, awarding them with the opportunity to attend an ACOMS continuing education meeting. “The program aims to enable award recipients to become and remain engaged with other women in the specialty throughout their careers to learn, mentor in turn and perpetuate the cycle,” according to ACOMS. It honors Elaine Alice Stuebner, the first woman certified as a diplomate to the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 

Uppgaard applied for the scholarship because of the opportunity for continued education. “It is so important as a professional to be constantly growing and educating oneself,” she said, “and this was an opportunity to receive more continuing education.” 

In her essay application, Uppgaard reflected on the nebulous ideal of “having it all.” “In the midst of all the loud voices crying for attention, I’ve learned that, in fact, I can’t have it all,” she reflected. “What I have instead of ‘all’ is incredible, and is an act of balance and collaboration. It involves consistently re-evaluating and modifying my approach. As a mom, a surgeon and a human, my approach to making an impact in my personal life, professional life and society in general is to devote time and energy to the things that matter.” 

For Uppgaard, the things that matter are her profession, her family, and volunteer work. She reflected on the pains and challenges of balancing work and personal life, and how she has grown and learned as a provider, a team member and a person. “While the balancing act is hard, and I fail more than I would like to admit, it is the coexistence of my personal life, professional life and contributions to society in general that allows me to achieve fulfillment in the different areas of my life,” she wrote. 

When she found out that she received the award, Uppgaard was “honored and humbled.” 

“Elaine Stuebner was an incredible surgeon at the forefront of women becoming oral and maxillofacial surgeons,” she said. “She set the stage for the rest of us. We are still at a point in our specialty where women are in the absolute minority, and it is important to show women who are thinking about pursuing oral surgery that it is something they can achieve.” 

With the award comes a $5,000 scholarship to be used for an ACOMS meeting within the next year. Her essay will also be published in the ACOMS Review newsletter and submitted for publication in the Oral Surgery, Oral Pathology, Oral Medicine and Oral Radiology Journal. 

“This opportunity will allow me to attend a continuing education course and to make more connections within the specialty,” Uppgaard said. “This is an incredible gift, and I am very grateful to ACOMS for selecting me and for the surgeons who have mentored me.”