I date my intense passion for health care to when I broke my arm – in four places – and found myself in the ER at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. My mother, a recent immigrant from Poland, spoke very little English and was consumed with worry that we had little to nothing to pay for my care and no insurance. I remember it like 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 unnecessary and my arm could heal independently. My mother was directed to Dr. XXXX in a search for alternatives, who confirmed her suspicion that my arm could recover in a cast followed by physical therapy. Dr. XXXX saw me every week at no charge until my arm was fully healed. More than 15 years later, my arm and handwork are perfect. Dr. XXXX will always be one of my foremost role models, personally and professionally. I also admire his dedication to noninvasive measures with the best outcomes. As I see it, Dr. XXXX saved my arm and hand for dentistry.
During the summer of 2016, I worked as a Unit Head for the Sunrise Day Camp in Staten Island, 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 oversaw 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 mouths hurt when eating or talking. Soon, I was paying exceptional attention to how chemotherapy causes tooth decay due to infections the weakened immune system cannot fight. One camper, Dominick, became dehydrated and overheated due to insufficient water. He said he didn't like water and would only drink juice. Later on, in the nurse's office, she saw that he had a lot of cold sores when she looked at his mouth... We realized that it wasn’t the taste of water that he didn’t like but that the juice better eased the pain of his cold sores. We taught him to drink the water with a straw 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 suffer the most, and I decided to give my life to health care to serve them. I have my sights set on dentistry for various 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 chance to conduct an education day, where we taught oral health and hygiene to local children. Most importantly, due to the free services offered through the dental clinic we set up, many patients received treatments that they would not have otherwise 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 this left me profoundly inspired to give my all to dentistry. I want to provide dental care to the underserved, who would otherwise not receive any consideration. Nothing excites me more.
As I apply to dental school, I can't help but think of the medical attention 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 broken arm will live on throughout my professional lifetime, in every oral surgery I perform, each tooth I save, and each seemingly shattered, upside-down world of a little boy or girl.
My work with children with cancer has taught me that they are more than anyone else who deserves all that we can do to assist them in achieving a pain-free, 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.