I have never really considered any other career than dentistry. I was fortunate to have an aunt who is an experienced dentist practicing in my home country of Vietnam and I was given the opportunity to ‘shadow’ her and provide some basic assistance to her while in High School. Seeing grimaces of pain turn into smiles of relief and witnessing my aunt’s skilled, dedicated and empathetic treatment of her patients was truly inspiring and she continues to be a role model. I was especially impressed by her determination to educate her patients in oral and dental hygiene and in the benefits that regular maintenance provides. So far, I have found great satisfaction in my work and I have never regretted my choice and now seek to hone and extend my dental knowledge and skills to provide excellent dental care and education to patients in the US. Admission to Dental Schools in Vietnam is highly competitive with far fewer places than applicants. The level of competitiveness ensures that only the truly determined and able gain admittance. I spent many hours studying for the entrance examinations and graduated with honors in 2003.
It was necessary for me to work part time while studying dentistry which was a test of my dedication and determination. In these circumstances, merely qualifying was a great challenge but I was determined not merely to succeed but to excel. I organized study groups to assist students to share and resolve problems which proved very successful for the participants, including myself. Because of my excellent academic results, I was one of 15 students on my course selected to submit a thesis rather than undertake a final examination. My thesis was judged to be the third best in my course and is stored as reference material in the library of the Medical and Pharmacy University of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a fact of which I am very proud.
During my early years of professional study, I sought as many opportunities as possible to assist physicians and dentists in their research work. I translated material from English to Vietnamese and assisted in clinical trials in various research projects. These experiences provided highly useful supplementary training that I would not otherwise have gained so early in my academic and dental career.
When I graduated, I initially worked as an associate dentist in a hospital providing dental care to heart patients to ready them for surgery. This instilled an appreciation of the cross-disciplinary nature of dentistry and provided an opportunity to work with experienced surgeons and foreign dentists and patients which enhanced my communication skills and knowledge. It also gave me opportunities to provide education in dental and oral care to my patients. After a year working in the hospital, I worked in general dentistry in clinics in Vietnam gaining broad experience of the day to day work of a general clinic. In addition, I volunteered to work half a day each week in a hospital assisting a surgeon and his team who performed free cleft lip and palate surgery for poor children. It was a great joy to see appearances transformed and the increasing confidence and happiness of the young patients with their ‘new faces’ and smiles.
Since moving to the US in 2010, I have completed the ESL course in college to 1C standard and, since 2012, have worked as a Dental Assistant, learning as much as possible about how dentistry is practiced here and supplementing this with private study of professional journals and texts. This significant exposure has provided me with an excellent base from which to proceed to qualify to practice here. It has been a challenging several years in which it has been necessary to study full-time while working part-time and adjusting to a new environment and culture, all while bringing up a young child. However it has also been highly enjoyable and instructive.
I have happily socialized, studied and worked with people from many cultural and social backgrounds both here and in Vietnam. I get on easily with others and love to learn about new cultures and share information about my own. I aim to be a well-rounded person. I love singing and soccer and look forward to extending my fairly limited international travel in order to see new peoples, cultures and places, in the future.
To summarize, I believe that I have the experience, personal characteristics and proven academic ability to excel, rather than merely succeed in the program. I believe that my working background and research experience will enable me to ‘add value’ to the program. I undertake to participate in the program with exceptional enthusiasm and diligence.
Thank you for considering my application.