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Summer Medical and Dental Education Program SMDEP

Updated: Jan 23

I was raised in Ethiopia, a country with a significant shortage of healthcare professionals and facilities amidst widespread poverty. These realities were brought home early in life because my mother suffered from chronic dental problems and sought expensive treatment only when the pain and condition were extreme. As a result, she lost tooth after tooth. Because my mother was often in pain, I had to assist with domestic duties early. From an early age, it was straightforward for me to appreciate the value of dental treatment. Consequently, my goal became to become a dentist and help many by relieving their pain and saving their teeth, smiles, and confidence. It also instilled in me a determination to give my time, skills, and knowledge generously to those unable to pay for dental care.

Since moving to the US and enrolling in High School, I have sought as much exposure to dentistry as possible. When my English language skills were sufficient, I worked as a volunteer at a local dental hospital. Although my duties merely involved answering phone calls, mailing appointment reminders, and filing charts, it was an excellent basic introduction to the profession, exposing me to much oral and dental educational material and providing a basic introduction to documentation, including treatment plans.

Having obtained my bachelor's degree in biology, during which I was on the Dean’s List for two academic years, I was accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (SMDEP), which I completed with honors. I learned much about health disparities and clinical rotations during the six-week program and spent time shadowing and networking. It provided an excellent grounding in dentistry practice. One of the program's highlights was observing a double jaw surgery procedure. I witnessed the surgeon extracting a jaw and applying a plate to transform the facial appearance of an eighteen-year-old boy, which was an inspiring and formative event and confirmed my goal.

After completing the SMDEP program, I was offered the opportunity to shadow a highly dedicated and skilled general dentist, Dr. XXXX. I learned about dental procedures such as composite fillings, root canal therapies, implants, and crown and bridge preparation. It also gave me insight into how trust and confidence are earned and maintained in the dentist/patient relationship and a dentist's day-to-day professional life. With Dr. XXXX’s encouragement, I qualified as a Dental Assistant and was delighted to be offered the opportunity to work for him.

My work as a Dental Assistant has been very satisfying and helpful. I have observed and assisted in various procedures; I have learned the basics of treatment planning and maintaining accurate and comprehensive records, how to put patients at ease, and the importance of team coordination and cooperation. The work has also made me keenly aware of dental and oral health preventative education. I hope to spread information about the importance of effective and regular oral and dental hygiene regimes.

I am extremely excited at the prospect of training for a dynamic profession in which many advances in materials and techniques are occurring. I have already assisted in dental-related research projects, and I hope to have the opportunity to be involved in such projects during the program.

I understand that cultural awareness and sensitivity are critical in healthcare provision. As someone from a foreign culture whose first language is not English, I am sensitive to these matters. I have happily studied, worked, and socialized with people of many cultural and social backgrounds. I enjoy learning about other cultures and sharing knowledge of my own. I also regard voluntary activity as an obligation rather than a choice; I have undertaken such work throughout my time in the US and intend to continue doing so.

I should also like to mention that one of my hobbies is drawing. I have acquired a proficient level of skill, solid aesthetic sense, and elevated level of manual dexterity.

Thank you for considering my application.


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