I was always interested in science at school but had no clear career goal. This situation changed when, at sixteen, I underwent orthodontic treatment. The treatment results were greatly enhanced self-esteem and an increase in life-changing confidence. I decided to apply my love of science to dentistry.
I have a well-developed esthetic sense that makes dentistry an excellent career choice, combined with a love of science. Ultimately, I hope to become an orthodontist and teacher in my field. I am excited to be in a profession where advances in techniques, materials, and equipment are rapidly made. As my studies progressed, I realized that an excellent dentist did not merely alleviate pain and improve appearance, but enhanced general health, provided better dietary options, and improved communication ability.
As a student in dental school, I founded a volunteer group called ‘Helping Hands.’ We worked in deprived rural areas and public schools, running health camps providing emergency and primary oral healthcare. We also provided basic education in oral and dental health. I started the group because, in the small town in India where I was raised, dental care was scarce, and most people suffered poor dental health, not realizing its importance or simply being unable to afford treatment. Witnessing grimaces of pain turn into smiles of relief provided our team with enormous satisfaction.
After graduation, I worked as a general dentist for two years in my hometown. There is no dental insurance in India, so one additional necessary skill that I learned was to provide the best possible treatment within the financial limits of the patient. I was exposed to various patients and conditions and became a confident and effective practitioner. I was exceptionally able to soothe the child or nervous patient. I ensured that each patient was with great respect rather than a file or a set of plates. I also learned to remain calm under the pressure of providing emergency treatments, liaise with other dentists and specialists as appropriate, and manage my time effectively to benefit the practice and patients. The feedback from patients and my interaction with them were always positive and satisfying and confirmed that I had made the right choice of dentistry as a career.
When I married, I left my practice and accompanied my husband to the US. To acquaint me with the local professional dental environment and keep abreast of current developments, I have shadowed dentists, participated in dental conferences, and undertook dental-related volunteer activities. I have been an active volunteer for three years with ‘More Smiles Wisconsin’ (MSW), a local non-profit organization whose mission is to provide access to quality dental care to the underserved.
Assisting so many caring volunteer dentists has been inspirational. It has also been highly instructive to see many practitioners at work using advanced materials and technology generally unavailable in India and comparing their different techniques. I have had the opportunity to interact with volunteers and patients of many social and cultural backgrounds and have been personally enriched by it and have made many friends. I also initiated an Oral Health Education Committee at MSW to raise funds, provide dental awareness programs, conduct oral screenings at oral health education camps, and help the underserved source dental treatment. MSW was founded by two dentists who had one chair in a Salvation Army building and has developed into a significant charitable provider of therapy and education. I am full of admiration for its founders and workers.
I was distressed sometimes to discover that patients were unable to attend work because of dental pain while being unable to afford it, a loss to patients, employers, and society. I have also been involved with patients who need major surgery which had to be postponed indefinitely because of poor dental or oral health because of the fear of resultant infections. I became aware that less than 50% of people in the US have dental insurance, which is a clear indicator of the lack of awareness of the close relationship between oral/dental health and general health. Once qualified to practice here, my firm intends to continue volunteering as a dentist with MSW and help educate the population, especially financially challenged patients, concerning the importance of dental and oral health for their well-being. I also hope to provide some subsidized treatments to needy patients in my practice and ultimately build a non-profit organization of my own that enables me to specialize in helping the underserved.
My central goals are to build on my training and experience to become an excellent dentist, provide quality care irrespective of socioeconomic status, spread awareness of the necessity to maintain good oral and dental health, and, ultimately, continue advancing my specialization in orthodontics.
Thank you for considering my application.