Like many young people in their teen years, I wanted to do something with my life that involved helping others and I considered various career paths with this end in mind. However my elder brother had decided to take up dentistry and his delight in his work, especially at being able to turn grimaces of pain into smiles of relief, inspired an interest in the profession and my decision was made, it is one that I have never regretted. I enjoy the fact that the profession is multi-faceted involving the application of scientific knowledge, personal contact together with high level communication and planning skills. I am deeply attracted to dentistry also because it is a dynamic and exciting field of study in which constant advances in techniques and materials are made and I hope to play a part in these developments.
I commenced my dental studies in 2008 in Syria at the International University for Science and Technology. The first three courses I completed consisted of basic science and pre-clinical studies. During the fourth year, when we were supposed to begin treating patients, the war broke out in Syria and this had a major and detrimental effect as the school was obliged to relocate to a safer city causing uncertainty and dislocation to myself and other students. Many of my classmates and faculty members left the country but, after much thought, I decided to remain and complete my studies. The situation affected the number of patients we were able to treat and the types of cases available to us. People had more to worry about than their long term dental health and, consequently, we saw emergency cases but were not exposed to very much routine work. However I did have the opportunity to shadow a highly dedicated and experienced endodontist during my final year and this was a very rewarding and educative experience.
It must be admitted that my GPA result is not ‘stellar’ but this is not an accurate reflection of my ability or commitment since, as explained, my studies were undertaken in a war situation. The resulting dislocation and uncertainty had a major effect on my own and my fellow students’ studies and results and I ask the readers to take these highly relevant facts into account.
It is now my goal to qualify to practice in this country and eventually to have my own clinic providing excellent treatment in an underserved and probably rural community.
Immediately upon graduating, I moved to the US. After settling down in Oklahoma City, I began to seek opportunities to apply my training. I met Dr. XXXXr, a faculty member in the XXXX University College of Dentistry, who also has a private practice. She offered me the opportunity to shadow her at her clinic and to assist her in the role of Dental Assistant. This experience has provided me with an insight into dentistry as practiced in the US and into the importance of the role of the Dental Assistant which has been extremely useful and I am very grateful for Dr. XXXX’s help.
I have also undertaken a significant amount of voluntary dental work. I was among a team providing treatment in remote villages in Syria during my training there and have worked as a volunteer Dental Assistant in the US at a community clinic which provides free dental services to economically challenged patients. Apart from the practical experience, this work has given me the opportunity to be of use to others, to share insights with other volunteers and to make friends among the dental community. I took part in a project called the XXXX Mission of Mercy, an annual two day event providing free dental services to the uninsured or underinsured and others not having access to dental care. I was amazed at the number of patients who showed up, the amount of work undertaken in such a short time and was deeply impressed at the level of organization applied to ensure that everyone was treated. I was surprised at the level of need but also at the number of skilled and hard-working volunteers who came forward to give their time and skills so generously and cheerfully. It was a highly inspiring and positive experience. Once qualified, I certainly intend to support such admirable endeavours as far as I am able.
The work and voluntary activities undertaken in the US have provided me with a good understanding of the US dental environment and the techniques, equipment and administration in use here. My volunteer work has also inspired an interest in preventative education having seen so many preventable conditions. Once qualified, I would see it as a duty to seek opportunities to provide or supplement preventative education and treatment as widely as possible.
I have happily worked with, treated and socialized 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 others and have a well-developed sense of humor. My native tongue is Arabic and I communicate well in English both orally and in writing. I love team sports and am an enthusiastic player of basketball, rugby and water polo.
I am confident that I have the potential to become a first class dentist in the US. I am sure that I possess the necessary personal characteristics and professional background to enable me to ‘add value’ to the program. I can assure the reader that, if selected, I shall apply myself with great enthusiasm and diligence in order to excel, rather than to merely succeed.