MORGANTOWN - "I'm a West Virginia girl. I grew up in a very small county," Dr. Krstal Thompson said. "We grew up with little means, and through the support of people who loved me, people who believed in me, I was able to make a career for myself."
Krstal Thompson, D.D.S., originally from Philippi and now a third-year resident in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, has earned for herself a reputation throughout the Health Sciences Campus for her hard work and excellent performance.
"Dr. Thompson is a very hardworking individual who illustrates how dedication and persistence can help you achieve your goals in life. She should be used as an example to other students that with hard work comes great success," said Bryan Weaver, D.D.S., M.D., chair of the WVU Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Oral surgery is considered one of the most difficult specialties. After graduating from the WVU School of Dentistry in 2010, Thompson completed her general practice residency followed by an oral surgery internship at WVU. She was accepted into WVU's Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program in 2012.
"It was my birthday, Jan. 30, when I got my email that said I was accepted to the program. It was one of the happiest times ever because you work so hard, and it is really challenging to get into oral surgery. I was so grateful," Thompson said.
Thompson's distinctions began early. Oral surgery residents are required to take an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course before the residency begins, in preparation for a rotation in the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center.
Thompson was recommended to go on to the instructor course, which she completed and has been an ATLS instructor for nearly three years. One year later, Thompson was awarded the Outstanding Performance in Trauma Award for the first of two years in a row, receiving the award at the completion of both her first and second years of oral surgery residency. The award is given to a resident outside the general surgery department who is working with the trauma service.
Alison Wilson, M.D., director of the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, has worked with Thompson extensively over the past two years, both through the ATLS program and during Thompson's rotation in the Trauma Center.
"Dr. Thompson is one of the most organized, driven residents I have worked with. That she has received the Outstanding Performance in Trauma Award for the past two years demonstrates that she has shown initiative far beyond the scope of what is required," Dr. Wilson said. "She's one of the most dedicated, tremendously talented young people I've encountered."
Thompson's experience in trauma care came to the rescue when the apartment building next to her home caught on fire one early morning in January. Thompson and her husband, Ron, ran to the scene, where he assisted people out of the building while she provided care to the injured and helped to coordinate with emergency personnel and the hospital. No fatalities from the fire were reported.
"As a healthcare provider it's engrained that when you see somebody that's in need, you help that person," Thompson said. "We have that built in that you go toward the accident, not away from the accident."
Thompson attributes her remarkable success to the people who have supported her, beginning with her parents who taught her to always work hard and encouraged her to be the first in her family to graduate college, to her husband of 14 years who delayed his own education to work to put her through school. She especially credits the attending physicians she has worked with throughout her residency.
"I credit the oral surgery program here. You feel like you have to work hard to make these attending physicians proud, because they approach us with such respect," Thompson said. "When I leave this program, whatever success I have, I will always try to give back to my program because I love it. I am so thankful that I'm here."