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 results of the treatment were greatly enhanced self-esteem and an increase in confidence that was literally life-changing. I decided to apply my love of science to dentistry.
I have a well-developed esthetic sense which, combined with a love of science, makes dentistry an excellent career choice. It is my hope, ultimately, to become an orthodontist and teacher in my field. I am excited to be in a profession in which advances in techniques, materials, and equipment are being made so rapidly. As my studies progressed, I became aware that an excellent dentist did not merely alleviate pain and improve appearance, but enhanced general health, provided better dietary options and improved the ability to communicate clearly.
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 basic 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 home town. There is no dental insurance in India and 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 a wide variety of patients and conditions and became a confident and effective practitioner. I was especially able in soothing the child or nervous patient. I took care to ensure that each patient with great respect rather than as 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 to manage my time effectively for the benefit of the practice and patients. The feedback from patients, and my interaction with them, was always positive and satisfying and totally 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 myself with the local professional dental environment and to keep abreast of current developments, I have been shadowing dentists, participating in dental conferences and undertaking dental-related volunteer activity. 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 and it has also been extremely instructive to see a large number of practitioners at work using advanced materials and technology generally unavailable in India and also 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 with the aim of raising funds, providing dental awareness programs and conducting oral screenings at oral health education camps and helping the underserved to 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 treatment and education and 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 patient, employer 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, it is my firm intention to continue to volunteer as a dentist with MSW and to help them to educate the population, especially those who are financially challenged 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 and to provide quality care irrespective of socio-economic status; to spread awareness of the necessity to maintain good oral and dental health and, ultimately to continue to advance my specialization in orthodontics.
Thank you for considering my application.