Written by Ginny Wiedower
Though Dr. Mitchell Collins has been practicing at the Maxillofacial Surgery Center of Central Arkansas in Conway for 12 years, his roots remain in Russellville.
“Russellville is still in my heart as my home,” Dr. Collins says. “It was and is my foundation of life.”
Dr. Collins was born and raised in Russellville by his parents, Bill and Nina Collins.
“I enjoyed growing up in Russellville,” Dr. Collins said recently. “I was very involved in sports when I was younger and I had a lot of good friends.” Dr. Collins participated in basketball, football, and baseball.
Dr. Collins also remembers his experience in Russellville schools pleasantly.
“My fifth grade teacher made me feel that I could accomplish anything. I also had a senior English teacher that had a lot of confidence in me.” Dr. Collins notes “almost anyone can be a doctor or a surgeon if they have the confidence in their abilities and perseverance.”
Dr. Collins certainly did not lack in perseverance growing up, and he learned very early the value of hard work. He recalls, “My mother taught me the trade of hard work early in life. At twelve I washed dishes at Dee Dee’s House. In high school and college I worked at Kroger.”
Dr. Collins says that “the job that convinced me I wanted to pursue higher education was the summer I worked at the Corp of Engineers.”
Upon graduating from Russellville High School in 1980, Dr. Collins decided to attend Arkansas Tech University, a decision he considered to be easy.
“My father worked at Arkansas Tech, and I had been around Tech all of my life,” Dr. Collins remembers. “I considered starting school at Tech and then transferring after my second year, however, I enjoyed my life in Russellville and never really gave leaving Tech much consideration.”
While attending Arkansas Tech, Dr. Collins met his wife, Joni. He recalls, “Joni and I met when she first arrived at Tech. We became close friends, however, we didn’t date until the end of college. After our first date, things moved fast. We were married within a year!”
Dr. Collins and his wife Joni have been married for 21 years, and they have three children, Ryan, Abby, and Ashleigh.
After graduating with highest honors from Arkansas Tech University with a B.S. Degree in Biology, Dr. Collins decided to attend dental school at the University of Tennessee.
“I entered dental school wanting to be an orthodontist,” Dr. Collins recounts. “My wife had worked for an orthodontist, Dr. Silkenson, in college and I was interested in pursuing orthodontics as a career.
However, in dental school I excelled in the medical sciences. I decided that I was more suited for medical education and oral and maxillofacial surgery.”
Dr. Collins graduated from the University Of Tennessee College Of Dentistry in 1989 with a D.D.S. Degree, and graduated with the highest grade point average out of his fellow 78 Dental School graduates.
Then it was off to medical school. Dr. Collins explains, “Attending medical school was part of my residency in Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. When I was accepted into the program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, I was to attend medical school at the institution I was to receive my surgical training from.”
He says of the University of Alabama at Birmingham: “It is an excellent school with an exceptional reputation.” Dr. Collins graduated from the University Of Alabama School of Medicine in 1992 with an M.D. Degree. Dr. Collins graduated Cum Laude, and was in the 94th percentile of his class.
After graduating from medical school, Dr. Collins had a choice to make: where was he going to start his practice? Dr. Collins says, “Upon completing my training, I looked hard at practicing in Conway, Russellville and Rogers. At the time, Conway simply appeared to have the greatest need. There were no Conway-based oral surgeons, only one ENT, and no plastic surgeons.”
Dr. Collins began his practice at the Maxillofacial Surgery Center of Central Arkansas in March of 1994.
“My first year of practice was very exciting. Every day was a new challenge.” He explains, “Private practice is so different from the protected world of residency training. All of the challenges of some new adventure awaiting you every day makes the early years of practice dynamic.” Dr. Collins recalls, “After being in school for so long, the early years are somewhat surreal.”
“After almost 13 years of practicing, I still enjoy Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery,” says Dr. Collins. “I have developed different interests such as wellness and anti-aging medicine. I plan to practice for many years to come, however, my practice may look very different in the future. I want to follow my passions and interests, and we will see where life takes me.”
Certainly one of the greatest passions in Dr. Collins’ life is his family. “I enjoy being a father very much. I am so proud of my children,” he says.
Juggling an OMS practice and being a father of three children can be difficult, yet Dr. Collins has been very successful at balancing his work life with his home life.
He explains, “The early years of building a practice are difficult on family life. I never knew how much time would be involved in establishing a practice that delivers top notch care.”
“I see myself saying ‘no’ more these days. Fortunately, I am finding time for my children and family. We travel a lot together and we have memories.” Most recently the family traveled to France.
Giving back to the community is another passion shared by Dr. Collins and his wife. “It is very important to give back to the community. Joni and I give a lot to charity and in total we sit on three non-profit boards.”
He adds, “Giving back is very important to me and I am thankful to be in a position to help others.”
Dr. Collins feels very blessed to have been granted the skills necessary to become an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon.
“Being a surgeon has brought many great things to my life. To function in such a highly demanding job, you must develop leadership, discipline, excellence, focus, and courage.
“You must have compassion, empathy, enthusiasm, patience, and love your patients to succeed. The further I extend into my career, the more I hope to balance these diverse characteristics.”
It is safe to say that these characteristics began taking shape in Dr. Collins’ life while he was still growing up in Russellville. Dr. Collins loves to return to Russellville as often as he can.
“I still have a lot of family in Russellville. I also have family property that my great grandparents bought at the turn of the twentieth century.” He adds, “I also have lots of friends and colleagues that I work with frequently. And of course there is Whatta-Burger!”
Although Conway is now the location of his practice, Dr. Collins still calls Russellville his home.
“The experiences growing up shape us all, and my situation is no different,” he believes.
Collins: Deeply Rooted in the River Valley
Written by Ginny Wiedower