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Immigrant Lebanese Woman in Canada, International Dentist Helping Refugees

Updated: Jan 21

I am a dentist from Lebanon, still only 23; I finished dental school in the country where I grew up. I am making a new home with my family in Canada, where I hold citizenship. North America has long felt like my second home since I lived here for several years as a child. I moved back to Canada in August 2018, where I soon began working as a receptionist in a dental office for the first six months. I learned how dental offices are managed, and billing and insurance procedures are done. I left this position when I was invited to work alongside a prominent and distinguished dental surgeon as his assistant. Thus, since February 2019, I have had the opportunity to observe how most complex dental procedures and surgeries are performed up close and firsthand. I have learned a lot about implants, supporting prostheses, and bone grafts, which will help me hit the ground running and distinguish myself in a DDS Program for international dentists.

The only girl in the family, my father, and brothers, are engineers. Becoming a health care professional was a natural choice; I was heavily influenced in my career decision by an aunt in Lebanon, whose clinic I spent whole days learning about dentistry and the critical role of the dentist in the community. Therefore, I learned incredibly early about the power and beauty of dentistry, especially esthetics. A primarily self-taught artist since early adolescence, working hard in portrait realism and graphite drawings, I learned from the Internet and art books. Drawing on a micro-scale using extra thin pencils gave me a steady hand. This dovetails nicely with my dedication to Prosthodontics. I look forward to developing a lifelong specialization in dentistry later in my career after I earn my doctoral degree. Smile design, complex dental restorations, oral rehabilitation after a traumatic injury, or genetic facial defects all stand at the center of my world.

I am especially dedicated to the cause of providing oral health care to refugees. I feel particularly called to do so since many refugees, especially these days, speak my first language, Arabic. I began helping refugees while still in dental school in Lebanon. One of the patients I encountered during my clinical years at the university was a 30-year-old woman with five children fleeing political violence whom her husband had severely abused. She came to me in great pain and ashamed of her badly decayed teeth. It was a complex case as she needed multiple extractions on her posteriors, and the six anterior teeth needed endodontic treatment - in addition to core buildups and crowns. She also required partial dentures on both the maxilla and mandible. I managed to control the disease progression by teaching her how to brush. When I placed the final restorations, I saw her smile for the first time, and she told me that she had forgotten what it was like to feel happy.

For some time, I intended to begin further study and practice in North America after finishing dental school in Lebanon. This was especially true since my family decided to move back to Canada after I began dental school. Thus, I took the NBDE Part 1 in my third year of dental school and passed on my first attempt. I also passed Part 2 on my first attempt the following year as a fourth-year student. I learned to become a Master in time management, flying back and forth to Canada when I distinguished myself as a dental student in Lebanon, completing five years at the Beirut Arab University.

I shadowed numerous dentists during my school years. One highlight was going to Dubai in 2016, during my third year of dental school, to attend the International Students Dental Conference at the University of Sharjah. I enjoyed a week of workshops and lectures by renowned dentists worldwide in dental education. This helped me broaden my horizons regarding dentistry as a global profession.

As a member of the Lebanese Association of Dental Students for four years, I had the opportunity to co-organize many dental events and conferences, including lectures for high school students across Lebanon and special fun-filled activities for children in kindergarten and pre-school. I volunteered for our Free Medical Week 3 years in a row, helping to provide checkups at public schools; assessing patients' oral hygiene and general health status. I also had a share in helping to provide oral health care to many children from marginalized or refugee families. In addition to oral hygiene education and diet counseling, we referred patients to our clinics at the university, where we provided dental services at a low cost. I look forward to making room in my schedule to help the underserved for the balance of my professional life since I see this as both a professional duty and an honor.

Thank you for considering my application.


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