Throughout his lifetime, Anthony Buono knew he wanted to explore a career in healthcare and attended Providence College where he earned a degree in biology. He worked in a veterinarian clinic for a year after college as that was the career path he thought he would take. He also knew that he didn’t want to add to the debt he accumulated during his undergraduate years, so his plan included the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) through the United States Army to pay for his degree.
The HPSP offers military scholarships that can help cover civilian tuition for the health profession, pay for educational materials, and provide a monthly living stipend. Upon completion of the graduate health degree, the student attends Basic Officer Leadership Course prior to moving to their first duty location.
In 2012, the Army no longer offered the 4-year HPSP for veterinary students, so Buono reassessed his options. He worked for 2 years as a Clinical Information Manager in emergency departments training medical scribes and also shadowed in the medical field, including an optometrist and then a dentist. It was then that he fell in love with dentistry.
“Dentistry offers a relatively unique opportunity to affect direct, tangible, positive change in patient’s oral health- and as a result, their comfort and confidence,” says Buono.
He spent the following year studying for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) and then came to UConn School of Dental Medicine which was his top choice in dental schools.
During his time at the dental school, he participated in the Basic Officer Leadership Course, a six-week Army officer training course in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He also met and eventually got engaged to Alyssa, a medical student at UConn School of Medicine in the same year as Buono.
Upon graduating from UConn, he and Alyssa got married, and he became a Captain in the Army. The military scholarship requires a commitment of one year for every year of schooling and Buono extended his commitment to five years in order to do an Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) residency program through the Army. He started his military career pursuing his AEGD in Columbia, SC at Fort Jackson. Alyssa also started her three-year pediatrics residency in Columbia, SC allowing them to live together for their first year of marriage. Buono was moved to Fort Stewart in Georgia for his final four years in the army and they spent the next two years long-distance but made it work.
As a Captain in the Army, though an Army officer first, the vast majority of his day-to-day duty was that of a dentist treating active-duty soldiers. He needed to keep up with training including weapons training and combat casualty care, as if he were to be called up for duty due to war, his duties might have include providing combat casualty care and providing life-saving measures. It was a benefit having attended UConn as dental students at UConn receive an extremely strong biomedical science education, taking classes with the medical students for their first two years.
Upon completing his service with the US Army, Buono has come back to UConn School of Dental Medicine to complete his residency in Endodontics.
“It was an easy decision to come back to UConn,” says Buono. “I’m fortunate to already know the endodontic faculty from my years as a dental student- and they are all great.”
Buono loves the atmosphere of the dental school at UConn and he and his wife met and started their lives together here, so it feels like home to them. Alyssa is also excited to be rejoining the local medical community as a primary care pediatrician at Farmington Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. They are both from Massachusetts and have family and friends close by, which is especially important as they are expecting their first baby boy this fall.
The three-year residency program for Endodontics started on July 1st and Buono will simultaneously be pursuing a master’s degree
“Doing my residency at UConn feels like coming home. It was great in the Army to see different parts of the country and live in different places, meeting people from all over the world, but being away and coming back to Farmington just feels great to be back at UConn,” says Buono. “Alyssa and I have such great memories and we are really happy to be back.”