Dr. Kelly Barnett downplays her role as a veteran dentist, a pioneer for women in the field and a constant contributor to affordable dental care in the greater Springfield community.
“When I envision a champion, I see a show horse parading around an arena at the end of a race,” Barnett says. “Instead, I see myself as more of a work horse. The race I have entered will never have a finish line.”
Barnett is the co-owner of Barnett-Davis Dental Group, DDS PC in Ozark.
After earning her doctorate from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, she opened a small practice in the mid-1980s and has served in the same community for nearly 30 years.
When the state reduced Medicaid benefits for her patients, Barnett in the late 1990s stopped accepting new Medicaid patients. As a result, Barnet became more aware of the growing need for affordable dental care.
“I really do care about people and know that many people have financial challenges that make dental visits impossible,” she says.
“If people have to choose between putting food on their table or coming to the dentist, they will be forced to choose the basic necessities.”
In 2002, Barnett was a founding board member of The Children’s Smile Center, an Ozark-based not-for-profit Medicaid clinic that serves children in Christian and Stone counties.
To make up for Medicaid reimbursement, she says the clinic is able to stay financially afloat through fundraisers and subsidies from the dental community.
Barnett was elected as the first female president of the Greater Springfield Dental Society and the Greater Springfield Dental Foundation. These organizations represent nearly 300 dentists practicing across 16 counties.
“I knew that some people thought a female dentist at that time was an oddity,” Barnett says.
“But I never wanted to focus on that. I tried to surround myself with people who were supportive and positive. For the most part, I have only had positive experiences and have made wonderful professional relationships and friendships with so many of my dental colleagues.”
Barnett currently serves as president and chairman of Ozarks Technical Community College’s dental hygiene and assisting programs. She has been elected into the American College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, a dental honorary organization. Click here for full coverage of the 2012 Salute to Health Care.