I date my intense passion for health care to the time that I broke my arm – in four places – and found myself in the ER at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. A recent immigrant from Poland, my mother spoke very little English and was consumed with worry over the fact that we had little-to-nothing to pay for my care and, of course, no insurance. I remember like it was yesterday, sitting on the hospital bed in excruciating pain, glancing nervously at my mom. The look on her face seemed to confirm my worst fears; I will never forget it.
An orthopedic surgeon wanted to put metal plates in my arm, requiring several surgeries. My mother was afraid, and, quite surprisingly, correct in suspecting that the plates were not really necessary. In a search for alternatives, my mother was directed to Dr. XXXX, who confirmed her suspicion that my arm would heal normally in a cast followed by physical therapy. Dr XXXX saw me every week, all at no charge, until my arm was fully healed. More than 15 years later, my arm and hand work perfectly. Dr. XXXX will always be one of my foremost role models personally as well as professionally. I also admire his dedication to noninvasive measures which have the best outcomes. Dr. XXXX saved my arm and hand for dentistry, as I see it.
During the summer of 2016, I worked as a Unit Head for the Sunrise Day Camp in Staten Island, NY. Sunrise Day Camp is one of only a handful of free day camps in the U.S for children with cancer and their siblings. As a Unit Head, I was in charge of approximately 20 children aged 3 ½ to 7 and 10 camp counselors. I was the connection between the children and their parents and I heard children complaining that their mouth hurt when they were eating or talking. Soon, I was paying very special attention to the way that chemotherapy causes tooth decay as a result of infections that the weakened immune system is unable to fight off. One camper, Dominick, became dehydrated and overheated due to not drinking enough water. He kept saying that he didn't like water and would only drink juice. Later on in the nurse's office, when she looked in his mouth she saw that he had a lot of cold sores. We realized that it wasn’t the taste of water that he didn’t like, but the fact that the juice better eased the pain of his cold sores. We taught him how to drink the water with a straw so as to get it past the open sores.
At this camp, I was mas impressed by the fact that many of the most innocent members of our society are those that suffer the most, and I made up my mind to give my life to health care so as to be of service to them. I have my sights set on dentistry for a variety of reasons, my love for working with my hands in small places, intricate detail, and caring for children who will always have a special place in my heart.
During the summer of 2017, I volunteered for a dental outreach program, Volunteers Around the World, and went to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. On this mission, I had the opportunity to assist dentists, take patient histories and vitals, and sterilize dental tools. We also had the opportunity to conduct an education day, where we taught oral health and hygiene to local children. Most importantly, as a result of the free services offered through the dental clinic we set up, many patients received treatments that they would not have otherwise have been able to receive. Seeing the vast majority of the population with some form of oral health disease and level of discomfort, due to the lack of access to oral health care, with very few dental practitioners in their area, all of this left me profoundly inspired to give my all to dentistry. I too want to have the privilege of providing dental care to extremely poor people in the Developing World, people who would otherwise not receive any care at all. Nothing excites me more.
As I apply to dental school I can't help but think of the medical attention that Dr. XXXX gave me. His fight to make my arm whole again without surgery paved the way for my career in dentistry. His careful, patient, artful attention to my shattered arm will live on throughout my professional lifetime, in every oral surgery that I perform, each tooth I save, each seemingly shattered, upside- down world of a little boy or girl.
My work with children with cancer has taught me that it is they more than anyone else who deserve all that we can do to assist them achieve a pain free smile, an authentic, beautiful, and natural smile. This experience, in particular, has made me an advocate for fair and accessible oral health care for all. I hope to one day be a dentist who goes out of her way to bring a smile to the face of those who suffer the most, for no fault of their own.
I thank you for considering my application to dental school.