Meet the Medical Directors of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic: Dr. Kari Sims

A three-part series featuring the medical directors at OBCC focused on integrating care and building community together

Kari Ann Sims, DDS, MSD

This is part two of a three-part series. Last week, Dr. Kenisha Campbell was featured. Next week, On the Pulse introduces Dr. Christen Manangan.

When Dr. Kari Sims walks through the clinic doors of Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC) everyday, she’s inspired by the patients and staff.

“I knew OBCC was a special place,” Dr. Sims said. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to stay at OBCC after residency.”

Dr. Sims joined OBCC as a University of Washington pediatric dental resident and later came on board as a per diem dentist in 2014. She was appointed the dental director of OBCC in 2019 as the new Othello clinic location was taking root. From vision boards to seeing the doors open for the first time, Dr. Sims viewed it as a tremendous gift to be a part of the project and help make an impact on how the clinic would come to fruition.

“It’s been awe inspiring,” Dr. Sims expressed. “The space is just remarkable. It’s beyond any of our greatest dreams.”

Dr. Sims wants her leadership style to be one of collaboration and gratitude.

“We make great efforts to ensure kids have positive experiences,” she explained. “We’re setting up young people for a lifetime of good oral health. Typically going to the dentist isn’t people’s favorite place to be and some children come in very worried. One of the biggest successes for me is tailoring the treatment and care of these fearful children to not only successfully complete their needed treatment, but to help some even enjoy coming to the dentist. We know that if children have positive dental experiences, they are less likely to delay or avoid dental care as an adult.”

Dr. Sims found her way to dentistry through an unexpected medium: art. Her mother worked in healthcare so it was a career path she always considered, but she couldn’t seem to find the right fit when she was in school.

She continued to take pre-med courses but was drawn to art classes and eventually declared an art major as well. While studying abroad in Florence, Italy, Dr. Sims finally had an “ah ha” moment while taking an art restoration course alongside a woman who happened to be a dentist.

“When we were in the restoration lab she would say, ‘Oh, this reminds me of dentistry; this is similar to what we would do; this is an instrument we would use in dentistry.’ I think most of my classmates were kind of like, ‘Okay, enough about dentistry.’ I was too, until one day she brought in a photo of a young patient with a congenital malformation of their teeth whose smile she helped restore. That was my moment. I realized I could help create these life-changing moments for patients, and it required artistic skill and the ability to work with my hands,” Dr. Sims recalled.

When she returned from Italy, she pursued dentistry and never looked back. She eventually found her way to pediatric dentistry and knew it was where she was meant to be.

Looking ahead, she’s excited about the future of OBCC and all the possibilities to come.

“We are really refining and growing upon what we’ve already started by integrating all the different core services within OBCC,” Dr. Sims said. “But I also think we have opportunities to do more things outside of the four walls of our clinic to support the community.”

The innovative model of OBCC provides children with whole-patient care all in one place including medical, dental, behavioral health, nutrition services and more. Approximately 40,000 patients visits take place each year at clinic and community programs and over 30 different languages are spoken by families.