1. What did you most enjoy in your practice of Dentistry?
Always mature and serious-minded, dentistry has been the center of my world since adolescence, living my childhood dreams of becoming a dentist. Treating patients, alleviating their pain and discomfort, and enabling them to live healthier and happier lives, coupled with giving my all in my community to oral health education, provides me with an incredible joy that I cannot imagine finding in any other profession.
Earning the trust of my patients is particularly rewarding, and I have especially enjoyed working with children and their families, answering their questions and fulfilling their needs. I have attended to a vast range of cases, which has enhanced my self-confidence as it helps me feel that I can handle what comes my way. I have enjoyed putting the fundamentals I learned to practical use, constantly honing my clinical and diagnostic skills. In addition to technical competence, I also see the cultivation of patience, a gentle demeanor, hand, and an excellent grasp of pain management as integral elements required for a high level of success in dealing with patients. I have enjoyed making sure that each experience is pleasant, demonstrating to my patients that I genuinely care about their wellbeing. The dentist is someone that can be trusted and a person that genuinely cares for them. My personal experiences in dentistry as a volunteer, in particular, have shown me the need for empathy to empower individuals to care for their oral health. I see compassion and empathy as necessary for a successful dentist.
An older cousin was influential in helping me find and appreciate dentistry's joys while still very young, on family visits to my uncle’s house. I would watch her carving wax for the formation of artificial teeth, fascinated by her talent and the precise measurements involved. I served as her pediatric case study patient during her clinical practice. I treasured the energetic atmosphere at the university hospital where she worked, with students and faculty working side by side, creating beautiful smiles.
I completed dental school in our home country, Iraq, at the College of Dentistry in Baghdad, where I excelled and graduated near the top of my class. I could not be more passionate about advancing my career in Dentistry since I see it as my destiny. I love to think of Dentistry as a science and a profession, and a thoroughgoing commitment to excellence characterizes my outlook.
After finishing dental school in Iraq, I completed a General Practice Residency program where I not only had the privilege to practice my skills and learn from my more experienced colleagues at several high-end dental centers but also to travel to distant villages to educate and treat individuals and families with little-to-no access to dental care. As a volunteer and professional, I spent long hours every day treating many patients, most of whom needed my care. Each one received 100% of my careful attention and best effort. Devoted, highly ethical, and very professional, I treat every patient with kindness and diligence, like my family member sitting in my dental chair. This brings me great joy and a burning sense of pride in my capacity and mission.
Unfortunately, beginning in 2003, Iraq became a war zone, and I found myself, like others around me, at significant risk, especially as a member of a small Christian minority. We ran the risk of terrorist attacks every day. My only brother was kidnapped for ransom, and even though we managed to get him back, by 2007, we were forced to leave Baghdad, moving to Aleppo, Syria, searching for a haven. I worked as a lead dental assistant at a private dental clinic in Aleppo. That same year, I married the love of my life, a dentist. I moved to Dubai, UAE, to work as a part-time dental assistant in a multi-specialty dental center. I shadowed and assisted talented specialists in pediatric and cosmetic dentistry, prosthodontics, and orthodontics. I had the opportunity to volunteer for the FDI World Dental Congress, serving as an Event Coordinator for medical and dental conferences and exhibitions in South Korea and the UAE. I could not have enjoyed working closely with scientific committees, speakers, exhibitors, ministry officials, volunteers, and numerous team members.
2. How have your goals changed for clinical practice since coming to the U.S.?
My passion for dentistry as a profession has been growing exponentially ever since I came to the USA, fired up by the vast resources and advanced techniques that characterize dentistry on the cutting edge. A witness to war in Iraq and finally arriving at where I might have the opportunity to learn from the finest dental professionals on the planet, I have long felt most grateful and further inspired by my developing understanding of global dentistry. I feel called to learn, practice, and maintain the dream in my heart of returning at some point in the future to the Middle East on dental missions. I read a lot about refugees' desperate oral health conditions, mainly Iraqi and Syrian, and it breaks my heart. The children in these refugee camps tug at my heartstrings more than anything else.
Now, more so than ever, I look forward to practicing dentistry, where it is done with the highest degree of proficiency. When I escaped from Iraq safely, along with my family, I was so thankful that I made a vow to God that I would never falter in my dedication to dentistry. I want very much to show thanks for the great blessing I have received by excelling in an International Dentist Program and helping my community in all that I can. The challenges I overcame in Iraq, Syria, and the UAE and the success stories I have accumulated in the US reinforce my determination to pursue dentistry and never lose sight of where I came from. I adore the way that dentistry is such a global profession, and it is my sincere hope that being from and living in such deeply troubled Arab countries such as Iraq and Syria will help me to excel at empathy for the underserved who are forced to live in difficult and violent situations, most with no oral health care. I feel that I have become a better person in the US, more understanding of the complex issues that we face in our profession, and better able to address my concerns as someone who feels strongly that the underserved should hold a unique and privileged position in the hearts of members of our profession. I hope to distinguish myself as a result of great effort. After gaining further experience in the USA, I hope to increasingly devote my time to dental missions. I am increasingly passionate about this goal since I have lived in the USA for the past ten years; I also became a mother to our first child, Katya, and Nolan, in 2015.
My husband graduated from his international dentist program in 2018. I passed the National Board Examination Part 2 and have worked as a dental assistant for several years, dedicating countless hours to service learning dentistry. I have also volunteered at the Center for Dental Research at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry.
I am incredibly thankful to my mentor and dear friend from Iraq, Dr. XXXX, whom I have known since our days at the College of Dentistry in Iraq, who has allowed me to shadow her for months on end, off and on, depending on our circumstances. I have been mesmerized by her confidence and professionalism and most inspired by her successful transition to the practice of dentistry in America. I now think of America as home and have become so accustomed to communicating in English that I sometimes dream in this language. Now that my children are not so little and my husband is established in dentistry, I feel called to return to what I most love to make the contributions that I dream of, with a special place in my heart for the underserved, particularly those who continue to be victimized by war and widespread civil unrest, those subsisting in refugee camps that have no end in sight. At the very top of my list are the children caught up in these struggles, grieving for how they are neglected; I want the mother and the dentist in me to meet at some point, and I day-dream about specializing in the future in the area of Pediatric Dentistry, taking full advantage of all the beautiful things that I have learned as the devoted mother of two small children.
Thank you for considering my application.