Ethiopian to Dental School, Summer Medical and Dental Program


I was raised in Ethiopia, a country with a significant shortage of healthcare professionals and facilities of all kinds and one which suffers widespread poverty. These realities were brought home to me early in life because my mother suffered from chronic dental problems and, as was so common in that country, sought expensive treatment only when the pain and condition was extreme. As a result, she lost tooth after tooth. Because my mother was often in pain, I had to assist with domestic duties from an early age. It was very easy for me, from an early age, to appreciate the value of dental treatment and consequently it became my firm goal to become a dentist and to help many by relieving their pain and by saving their teeth along with their smiles and confidence. It also instilled in me a determination to give generously of my time, skills and knowledge to those unable to pay for them.


Since moving to the US and enrolling in High School, I have sought as much exposure to dentistry as possible. When my English language skills were sufficient, I worked as a volunteer at a local dental hospital. Although my duties merely involved answering phone calls, mailing appointment reminders and filing charts, it was an excellent basic introduction to the profession and exposed me to much oral and dental educational material and provided a basic introduction to documentation including treatment plans.


Having obtained my bachelor degree in Biology, during which I was on the Dean’s List in 2 academic years, I was accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (SMDEP) which I completed with honors. During the six-week program, I learned much about health disparities and clinical rotations and spent time shadowing and networking. It provided an excellent grounding in dentistry practice. One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity to observe a double jaw surgery procedure during which I witnessed the surgeon extract a jaw and apply a plate to transform the facial appearance of an eighteen-year old boy which was an inspiring and formative event and totally confirmed me in my goal.


After completion of the SMDEP program, I was offered the opportunity to shadow a highly dedicated and skilled general dentist, Dr. Nkwonta Obiora. I learned about different dental procedures such as composite fillings, root canal therapies, implants and crown and bridge preparation. It also provided me with an insight into the ways in which trust and confidence are earned and maintained in the dentist/patient relationship and into the day to day professional life of a dentist. With Dr. Obiora’s encouragement, I qualified as a Dental Assistant and was delighted to be offered the opportunity to work for him.


My work as a Dental Assistant has been very satisfying and useful. I have been able to observe and assist in a wide variety of procedures, I have learned the basics of treatment planning and about the maintenance of accurate and comprehensive records, how to put patients at ease and the importance of team co-ordination and cooperation. The work has also made me keenly aware of the importance of dental and oral health preventative education. I hope to play my part in spreading information about the importance of effective and regular oral and dental hygiene regimes.


I am very excited at the prospect of training for a profession which is so dynamic and in which so many advances in materials and techniques are occurring. I have already assisted in dental related research projects and I hope to have the opportunity to be involved in such projects during the program.

I understand that cultural awareness and sensitivity are very important in healthcare provision. As someone who comes from a foreign culture and whose first language is not English, I am sensitive in these matters. I have happily studied, worked and socialized with people of many cultural and social backgrounds. I enjoy learning about other cultures and in sharing knowledge of my own. I also regard voluntary activity as an obligation rather than a choice, I have undertaken such work throughout my time in the US and certainly intend to continue to do so.


I should also like to mention that one of my hobbies is drawing in which I have acquired a good level of skill and which reflects a strong esthetic sense and involves a high-level of manual dexterity, both of which are highly relevant to the practice of dentistry.

Thank you for considering my application.

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