Vietnamese Applicant to Dental School, Helping the Underserved

Updated: 4 days ago

My mother came to America almost a decade ago, with one broken tooth and three more that were very painful, which made it difficult for her to eat. Afraid of dental care in her own country, Vietnam, and lacking access to insurance, it was not until she came to America that a kind, soothing, Vietnamese-speaking dentist was able to convince her to have much needed dental work. Her smile afterwards, her joy at no longer being in pain, convinced me to pursue dentistry. Since then, I have been focusing all my efforts on reading about oral health issues and preparing myself for dental school. My professional dream is to become a dentist who helps the underserved in the community, especially members of immigrant groups, and those without adequate access to dental care.

Since 2010, I have been living for my education here in the USA, geared towards the realization of building a career in dentistry. I am finishing my undergraduate studies in Biology. I chose this major because of its central relevance for dentistry. I learned about the structure and function of the body and diseases. In my sophomore year, I received my biggest challenge yet—my child, also my biggest blessing. I reduced my course load for one year, in order to adjust to my new family’s needs, while continuing my pursuit of dentistry. I learned from that experience how to master balancing school, work, and family.

My mom’s dentist, Dr. Bui, became our family dentist. I would go on to shadow and later assist her. Dr. Bui helped encouraged me to become a Certified Dental Assistant. Shadowing and assisting Dr. Bui was a special joy because she attends to a large number of patients, many if not mostly elderly. I felt needed, especially when putting the elderly at ease. I had a special empathy for those patients without insurance or other financial means. I realized dentistry can overlap between science and the creative arts. I observed very closely on numerous occasions how to use a syringe to numb the teeth in much the way that I use a needle on fabric. I made progress in the art of gaining a patient’s trust and making them feel comfortable. As a Dental Assistant, I also gained valuable experience working for over four years at another office, in general as well as areas of specialty practice such as dentures or braces. I tried to learn everything I could about this interesting field: how to take the impressions of patients’ teeth in a gentle, more considerable way, so they could feel more comfortable while putting weight on their teeth. In my determination to help patients navigate their dental experiences with ease, I seek to give my professional life to the goal of making each one of my patients smile, enhancing the quality of their life in sustainable ways.

I have stayed busy in dentistry, volunteering with the Texas Mission of Mercy in XXXX, a free dental clinic for people with limited access to oral care, again focusing on the elderly. I assisted in making dentures for a senior who had no front teeth for many years. His tears of joy at the profound improvement in his life remain with me until today. I look forward to staying engaged with and giving back to my community, especially our underserved and elderly members, promoting beautiful and healthy teeth. My shadowing and volunteering experiences have brought me close to the patients I wish to serve the most—those with great need and limited access.

Through my ability to speak two languages, I want to help improve access to dental care, educate others on oral health, and overcome barriers of understanding between patient and dentist. I hope to practice dentistry in an area of the country with a Vietnamese community, and to provide care in English and Vietnamese. I see it as especially important to reach out to those who might experience the most need, such as recently—arrived immigrants, and elders who may not have received optional dental care because of how language barriers affect them. This is one small way I hope to make a difference in people’s lives.

I hope to continue studying dentistry because of my passion for the science involved, and for the communities in need of dental care, as well as my view of dentistry as an art. I am especially committed to helping the underserved and increasing access to dental care. In the future, I wish to help alleviate others’ dental pain, be able to restore teeth and rejoice at the smiles of my patients.

Thank you for considering my application.

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