In 2007, I was allowed to travel to India as a volunteer in an ‘Eye and Dental Camp’ providing free treatment to underserved communities. I assisted by registering patients and had many opportunities to witness dedicated dentists giving treatment. Many grimaces of pain transformed into smiles of relief and my fascination with dentistry began. I also became aware of the dire results of neglecting oral and dental hygiene and its effects on oral, dental, and general health. Consequently, I joined the prestigious dental program at Manipal University, ranked first in India for dental training. The experiences gained in working with poor patients during my internship year confirmed my choice of career that I now seek to pursue further in the USA.
My internship year and my involvement in various ‘dental camps’ for the underprivileged in India have provided me with significant exposure to many kinds of oral and dental conditions arising not only from neglect but smoking, the type of water locally available, and the consumption of betel nuts. I treated a wide range of patients of all ages. The experience has also taught me the importance of applying great care in diagnosing, acquiring, and developing this skill to the highest possible degree.
The failure to adopt basic dental and oral hygiene regimes in India has made me very sensitive to the need to educate and do so as early in life as possible. I hope to assist in reaching out to underserved communities, especially the young, to help them understand the vital importance of oral health for general health and esthetic and other considerations. My particular research interest is pharmaceutical influences on treating and preventing oral disease in healthy people with complex medical histories.
I qualified in 2014 and then pursued various CPD programs in India. I have undertaken extensive reading of professional journals to ‘keep abreast of the latest developments in the profession and have ‘shadowed’ a highly skilled and devoted dentist since November 2015. I know it is vital to be aware of current developments in such a fast-moving professional environment.
I possess a strong ‘artistic streak’ and have worked as a ‘make-up artist.’ So the esthetic element in dentistry is beautiful to me, as are the exciting possibilities of being involved in a profession in which constant advances are being made in materials and techniques. Since childhood, I have been an enthusiastic knitter, which has resulted in highly developed manual dexterity, which has been a great advantage to me in treating patients. For this reason, during my internship, I was tasked with constructing a complete set of dentures for a 75-year-old who had been toothless for ten years; I shared his joy at being able to smile again and eat anything he chose. I would rather that he had known how to preserve his teeth but providing him with this service was at least a ‘second best’ outcome for him.
During my internship and VSO service, I worked with many ‘special needs children and adults. I empathized with them and enjoyed interacting as a dentist and helping them enjoy various leisure activities. I would be very interested in serving such patients in the future.
I have happily interacted professionally and socially with people of many ethnic and social backgrounds. I enjoy sharing knowledge of my own culture and learning about those unfamiliar to me. I get on quickly with others and have a well-developed sense of humor. I am fluent in English, Punjabi, and Hindi and can understand Urdu.
I believe the skills acquired and developed outside of dentistry can also be helpful. I have worked in customer service, which has honed my interpersonal skills and given me an understanding of how anxieties and frustrations are expressed and how they may be overcome. As a Community Relations Officer for ‘Elections Canada,’ my job was to maximize participation in the election by ‘outreach’ programs to those who have been historically less engaged than usual, such as indigenous people and the homeless. I was regarded as innovative and successful in these projects, and I believe that I can apply the skills gained by helping people to appreciate the vital importance of adopting effective dental and oral health regimes and having regular check-ups.
I believe that my excellent training and significant experience, together with a naturally outgoing and empathetic personality and, not least, my genuine passion for dentistry, will enable me to ‘add value to the program and become a highly effective and expert professional.
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