Dr. Jamel McDuffie

by Terry Watson | May 5th, 2011
Dr Jamel McDuffie (Photo by: Greg Coats)

Dr Jamel McDuffie (Photo by: Greg Coats)

Dr. Jamel McDuffie is a well-rounded individual that enjoys interacting with people, learning new cultures and putting smiles on people’s faces. She chose the latter as a profession and owns and operates McDuffie Dentistry based in Durham, N.C.

Dr. McDuffie, a native of Durham, N.C., was very active as a child and excelled academically. She served her community as a candy striper volunteer in the Durham Regional Hospital, was a high school cheerleader and was on her high school’s homecoming court. After high school, she studied at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and majored in chemistry. Throughout college and during her vacation time, she traveled abroad to Spanish speaking countries to learn and embraced their culture.

“We have a growing Spanish speaking population and I wanted to be able to provide care for them,” says Dr. McDuffie. “While abroad, I took Spanish classes during the week and explored the country and practiced the language on the weekends.” Dr. McDuffie received her doctorate degree in dental surgery from Howard University School of Dentistry. She was in the top ten percent of her class and enjoyed her time there. “I used to type my notes and color- code them with different pens to make learning fun. I guess you could say I was a bit of a nerd,” says Dr. McDuffie. “I appreciate Howard University for teaching me the fundamentals of dentistry and preparing me to handle any dental need I would face.”

Following dental school, Dr. McDuffie became the first African American ever accepted into the General Practice Residency (GPR) program at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Being a high achiever, she excelled in the program and learned new materials and techniques that she applies currently in her own practice. Dr. McDuffie operated a portable dental unit early in 1999 on the weekends. With it she took dental care to Hispanic centers, local churches and other community organizations to provide dental care to those in need. In addition, upon her return to North Carolina McDuffie worked for a clinic in an underserved area known as Soul City. She stayed there until her current office was finished. After completing all the professional dental certifications and licensing requirements, she opened McDuffie Dentistry in March 2000 and she started building her own business from scratch.

Dr. McDuffie faced challenges when it came to balancing family and work. Being a supermom and super dentist was tough but she found a way to balance it all. In the beginning, seeking advice was quite difficult because other black dentists regarded her as competition rather than someone following the same path seeking guidance and uplift. She was disappointed but not deterred. “From that experience, I knew that I would help and advise anyone that called or knocked on my door regarding the dental field or business in general,” says Dr. McDuffie. “There are enough mouths to go around but not enough black dentists in a position to offer counsel and support. I want to help change that.”

Another challenge Dr. McDuffie continues to face is being categorized and labeled ethnically, geographically and socially. “I want to be known as a great dentist; regardless of where I come from or the color of my skin. I have found that everybody has teeth and I want to help them keep them regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin or sexual orientation,” she says. “I want to be that dentist they desire to come to and I want to be able to service their needs.”

Dr. McDuffie loves making a difference in people’s lives. Restoring smiles does that. “A smile elevates a person’s self-esteem. When my patients feels good so do I. Knowing that I did that for them is fantastic,” she says.
While she acknowledges her father for being an advocate for her and also having a huge impact on her life and career, she also finds inspiration in God and her family. She is the mother of three wonderful children: Myles 10, Myla 6 and Mykal 5. These three treasures keep her very busy after she leaves the office. “I want people to say that I made a difference in their lives. Whether it is the technical skills of my dentistry hands, the comforting words of my voice, the helping hand I provided or the giving of my time,” she says. “I want people to remember me as a great dentist and a wonderful, caring person.”

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