My school years in India were spent in establishments specifically for the children of those serving in the military. While providing an excellent education, the schools also offered other advantages such as an emphasis on the military values of self-discipline, diligence, persistence, team working, leadership and empathy towards others. It also provided the opportunity to interact with students and staff from all parts of the sub-continent and to learn about their different languages and cultures. I was also a member of the Girl Guides which further developed my social skills and leadership potential. I adopted both the school and the Guides ethos enthusiastically and believe that it has provided me with an excellent base on which to build a successful life and career.
I excelled in my school studies, often being top of my year. I loved mathematics and the sciences and many career paths lay open to me. However, I wished to ‘make a difference’ as well as making a living and healthcare greatly appealed to me.
My aunt, an endodontist, is head of a government dental college and so I had the opportunity to spend time at the college and with dedicated and skilled dentists. I became aware of the dramatically beneficial effects of their work on the appearance, confidence and lives of her patients and so I decided to pursue dentistry. My choice was also related to wish to have an outlet for a strong esthetic sense and highly developed manual dexterity that I acquired through my hobbies, which include drawing, painting, dress-making and embroidery. Dentistry appeared to offer an outlet for all my skills and so my decision was made.
When I attended my first ‘dental camp’, providing treatment in a deprived rural community in India, and saw grimaces of pain transformed into smiles of relief and gratitude, I knew that I had made an excellent choice of career and have never, for a moment, regretted it. I also became aware of the desperate need for dental treatment and education among so many people and intend to play a part, throughout my career, by donating some of my time and skills to treating the marginalized and by doing all that I can to assist the education of people in effective oral and dental hygiene regimes.
After completing my 12th grade with excellent marks, I started to prepare for the competitive entrance examination for dental college and was admitted to the prestigious Noorul Islam College of Dental Science, which is affiliated to the University of Kerala. My college was located within a multi-specialty hospital campus, NIMS Medicity, which is one of the most prominent health care centers in south India. Consequently, my clinical training involved exposure to an unusually wide variety of patient types and conditions and provided an excellent grounding in the profession.
In addition to my studies, I was very active in college activities including work as a coordinator for youth festivals, seminars and workshops. I was offered the opportunity to participate in the University’s own Youth Festival and won third prize for Hindi Poem Recitation which was the first time that such a prize had been awarded to a student of my college.
My diligence and enthusiasm resulted in excellent grades and I was ranked within the top three students of my class throughout my training and achieved University of Kerala First Rank in my second year. I graduated with an excellent GPA of 4.
India has significant problems in oral and dental health with disproportionate incidences of oral cancers, early teeth loss and other problems arising from lack of services and lack of public awareness of the importance of oral and dental hygiene and the dangers of habits such as smoking and tobacco chewing. I was involved in providing free dental screenings and awareness education in under-served rural areas during my training, which brought the extent of the problems home to me. This exposure has fired an interest in research, especially as it relates to the early diagnosis of oral cancers.
Since arriving in the US, I have sought as much exposure as possible to the local dental environment. I have worked as a Dental Assistant and had the opportunity to ‘shadow’ dental practitioners. I have been introduced to the latest techniques and materials and am very excited to be part of a profession in which such progress is being made for the benefit of patients.
My initial goal is to qualify to practice in the US and then gain significant experience in general dentistry. Ultimately, I hope to become a specialist and, eventually, to practice, research and teach that specialty.
To summarize: I have been the beneficiary of excellent training involving a wide variety of patient types with a wide range of conditions; I excelled academically and clinically during my training; I am an ambitious and able person with considerable potential. However, my main recommendation is a genuine passion for dentistry and for helping my future patients and a wider public to achieve and maintain excellent dental and oral health.