From early childhood, I was determined to ‘make a difference’ rather than to merely ‘make a living’. In dentistry, I have found a wonderful way of fulfilling that ambition. Much of my practical training in India was undertaken in rural villages, prisons and other institutions and I found great satisfaction in turning grimaces of pain into smiles of relief and gratitude. I am also very excited to be part of a profession in which techniques and materials are advancing so rapidly for the benefit of patients. I have never regretted my decision to enter dentistry and now seek the skills and knowledge to enable me to practice here in the USA.
I graduated, in 2010, from the prestigious Oxford Dental College, Bangalore, India which has first class facilities and provided an excellent, comprehensive dental training. It has been awarded the highest possible government accreditation for dental training and entry is highly competitive. Our training included the treatment of rurally based patients at ‘Dental Camps’ working from mobile dental clinics. I was exposed to a very wide range of dental conditions during my training and gained significant experience in both a wide range of conditions, in treating patients of all ages and in imparting dental and oral hygiene education. This exposure 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 mobile clinic method of reaching patients who would otherwise have gone untreated greatly appealed to me and it is my goal to use and extend this approach in my future career.
After graduation, I worked as a dentist in two clinics in India for nearly two years. During this time I extended my experience by undertaking such procedures as root canal treatments; crown preparation; composite and amalgam restoration; and complete and removable prosthesis preparation; and in treatment planning. I also gained experience in clinic financial management and overseeing laboratory work.
Since coming to the U.S. in 2012, I have qualified and worked as a Dental Assistant. This has provided me with an understanding of the U.S. dental ‘environment’ as well as allowing me to observe the techniques used by excellent and dedicated dentists. This has also provided me with insights arising from seeing the clinical world from the Dental Assistant’s viewpoint and this has made me very aware of the importance of their role. I have acted as a Dental Assistant to a dentist who uses a mobile clinic to treat the residents of homes for the elderly throughout a wide area of Texas and have thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Taking the clinic to the patient seems to me an excellent way of providing treatment to underserved rural communities and it is my intention, once qualified to work in the U.S., to operate such a clinic here. I also hope to be able to assist Indian dentists to set up mobile clinics for rural communities there and I certainly intend to spend some time each year providing free work in India throughout my career.
I have also been able to ‘shadow’ an expert dentist in the U.S. who has generously given significant time to my extended informal training in the U.S. I have also undertaken attendance at dental conferences and extensive reading of professional journals to ensure that I keep abreast of current developments in such a fast changing professional environment.
My impression before coming to this country was that the kind of problems that I had seen in India would have been quite rare. I was surprised to discover that neglect of dental health and consequent problems are so widespread. I would be interested in assisting in research aimed at identifying the most effective ways of educating people in adopting and maintaining a good hygiene regime. I have become aware that there are cultural differences in attitudes and that immigrant populations here tend to have the same attitude to dental health as that prevailing in their countries of origin. So perhaps the ‘targeting’ of educational resources, to those populations where the problems are most pronounced, may be worth consideration.
I know that technical competence alone is not sufficient, it is vital to possess the characteristics that will create confidence and trust in patients, especially where complex treatments are necessary. 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 others. I get on easily with colleagues and patients. I am fluent in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and have limited fluency in Telugu and Tamil. I took an active role in extra-curricular activities in Dental School and was elected Secretary of the Sports Society and held various other offices related to culture and sport.
To summarize, 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.