In 2007, I was given the opportunity 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 providing treatment. I witnessed many grimaces of pain transformed into smiles of relief and my fascination with dentistry began. I also became aware of the dire results of the neglect of oral and dental hygiene and its effects on oral, dental and general health. Consequently, I joined the prestigious dental program at Manipal University, which is ranked first in India for dental training. The experiences gained in working with poor patients in my internship year, totally confirmed me in my choice of career that I now seek to pursue in the US by participation in the program.
My internship year and my involvement in various ‘dental camps’ for the underprivileged in India has 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 use of the consumption of betel nuts which is common there. I also treated a wide range of patients of all ages. The experience has also provided me with an understanding of the importance of applying great care in diagnosis and in the importance of acquiring and developing this skill to the highest possible degree.
The failure to adopt basic dental and oral hygiene regimes in India has certainly made me very sensitive to the need to educate and to do so as early in life as possible. This failure to prioritize dental health also, unfortunately, sometimes occurs in South Asian communities in the US and Canada. I hope to assist in reaching out to those communities, especially the young in order to help them understand the vital importance of this matter for general health as well as esthetic and other considerations. My particular research interest is in the pharmaceutical influences on treatment and prevention of oral disease in the healthy and in those 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 to date. I am aware that it is vital to ensure an awareness of current developments in such a fast moving professional environment.
I possess a strong ‘artistic streak’ and have worked as a ‘make-up artist’ and so the esthetic element in dentistry is particularly attractive to me as are the exciting possibilities of being involved in a profession in which constant advances are being made in materials and techniques. I have been an enthusiastic knitter since childhood which has resulted in highly developed manual dexterity which has been a great advantage to me in treating patients. It was for this reason that, during my internship, I was set the task of constructing a complete set of dentures for a 75 year old who had been toothless for 10 years, I shared his joy at being able to smile again and to 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 and had great empathy for them and enjoyed interacting with them both as a dentist and in helping them to 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 easily with others and have a well-developed sense of humor. I am fluent in English, Punjabi and Hindi and can understand Urdu.
I believe that the skills acquired and developed outside of dentistry can be usefully applied in dentistry. I have worked in customer service, which has honed my interpersonal skills and given me an understanding of the ways in which 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 is usual, such indigenous people and the homeless. I was regarded as being innovative and successful in these projects and believe that I can apply the skills gained by encouraging the uninterested a greater appreciation of the vital importance of adopting effective dental and oral health regimes and in having regular check-up’s.
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 to become a highly effective and expert professional.