I was drawn to dentistry because it offered the opportunity to exercise my love of science and strong esthetic sense while providing the satisfaction of offering pain relief, dietary choice and improved appearance. There can be few professions that provide such satisfaction and I have never regretted my choice.
My plan for a career in general dentistry changed when I took part in a summer program at King Faisal Specialist Hospital during which I was affiliated with consultants in orthodontics. I became aware of the capacity of specialists to dramatically improve appearance, self-esteem and confidence in patients with life changing consequences. Seeing a child with a cleft lip and palate before and after the restorative work fired an interest in the specialty which has developed into a passion. I now seek to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience that will, ultimately, equip me to expertly practice, research and teach orthodontics.
Since completing my internship in mid-2017, I have sought as much exposure to the specialty as possible by obtaining a clinical attachment with a skilled and caring orthodontic specialist, while also practicing general dentistry. I have learned much about the conditions that orthodontists treat, the treatment options, the planning process and the outcomes that can be achieved. As my exposure to the specialty has increased under the care of expert practitioners so has my determination to emulate them.
I am making this application after much thought and research. I am aware that the practice of orthodontics requires a very high level of technical skill and knowledge. I am confident that I have the academic potential to acquire these as my creditable GPA and graduate class ranking of 4 out of 30, will attest. I am also very excited at the prospect of joining a specialty in which so many and frequent advances are being made in techniques and materials and hope to play a part in future developments. I am also aware that the specialty calls for the ability to think originally and creatively along with an ability to construct complex treatment plans and feel sure that I can meet those challenges.
Beyond technical skills, I know that the specialty also entails long-term relationships with patients during complex treatments. Creating and maintaining long term positive relationships calls for personal characteristics that, I know, are uncommon but which I believe I possess. They call for very high-level communication skills in explaining complex treatments in lay terms, the ability to quickly engender confidence and trust and for very high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence, which can neither be measured nor taught. It takes a very special person to be a dentist but an extraordinary person to be an effective orthodontist but I strongly believe that I have the capacity and potential to be that person.
I am also interested in research and have co-authored four papers, two of which are published. They cover disparate topics such as “Knowledge on Management of Traumatic Dental Injuries among Saudi Mothers” and “Saudi Elementary School Staff Knowledge about Management of Traumatic Dental Injuries” among others. In addition, I have presented a number of poster presentations in national and international forums. It is clear that such a complex specialty requires constant innovative research and I am very keen to play a part in future developments. I also feel that there is a significant overlap in the skills and characteristics of the orthodontist and a good researcher such as: determination, communication skills, analytical and original thinking, setting clear and achievable goals, cooperation with others to achieve goals and accurately assessing outcomes and taking lessons from them for future application. I have a particular interest in research relating to the treatment outcomes of orthognathic treatment and severe dentofacial deformity and hope that an opportunity to assist in such research might arise within the program.
I have a background of community service in taking part as a leader and organizer in several community programs such as ‘Oral Health Month’ and ‘International Day of Disabled Persons’, an event hosted by King Saud University focusing on oral health education. These experiences have enabled me to develop skills in leadership, organization, problem solving and team building as well as creating relationships with others who wish to share their knowledge and skills for general benefit, which is something that I intend to pursue, and encourage in others, throughout my career.
To summarize: I have had a successful academic career and experience as a general dentist; I have had significant exposure to the specialty; I have research experience and I firmly believe that I possess the special characteristics that are essential in this specialty. However, my main recommendation is a passion for orthodontics and a determination to excel in my studies and in my future career. I can promise the reader that I shall apply myself with exceptional diligence, determination and enthusiasm for my own benefit and that of my peers and faculty.