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I performed my first extraction as a fully certified professional dentist soon after my graduation. My patient was a pleasant and humble woman about 50 years old. The procedure was executed in an immaculate fashion. Several hours later, as my shift ended and I was headed home, I found her waiting for me outside the door. She tried to thank me by touching my feet. I stopped her and gave her a big hug -- in fact, I held her closely for a while and thought about the historic brutality of our class structure in India, her attempt to prostrate herself before me has long historical roots that are difficult to overcome.
Growing up in India, I recall with great clarity my father’s tireless commitment as a doctor. My enthusiasm for health care, initially, was a gift from my father, especially as a result of the profound respect that he earned within our community. In India, dentistry and medicine are seen more as noble social service to the community than lucrative careers and this commitment to social service is the foundation of my own decision to become a dentist.
While I have always had a passion for healthcare in general, my specific interest in dentistry began with a personal experience. At sixteen, I suffered from a severe toothache, the most intense pain I have ever felt. It got so bad that I thought I might miss my upcoming exam. To me, it was almost like a miracle when the dentist took away my pain in a single visit. This resulted in my immense respect for dentistry early on. Soon, I started to prepare myself for a career in dentistry, volunteering at dental clinics operated by associates of my father. All my hard work paid off and I was accepted to the esteemed Narayana Dental College.
My graduate studies empowered me with the knowledge and my hands-on experience has given me very strong execution skills. I especially love diversity and interaction with diverse ethinc and linguistic groups. I adore the practice of dentistry and the opportunity to apply my knowledge healing and preventing oral decay. I have worked very hard towards my goal of becoming the finest dentist possible and I hope and pray that I will be accorded the honor of a lifetime of service as a dentist here in America, especially doing everything within my power to attend to the underserved.
After my graduation, I apprenticed under Dr. XXXX, where I gained confidence in my ability to handle many difficult challenges on my own. I became ever more smooth and efficient with everything from extractions to restorative work, and assisting with osseous resective surgeries, gingival grafts, crown lengthening, root resection, and implant surgeries. But as important to me as my improvement in skills was the experience I had bringing dentistry out of the clinic and into the community. With Dr. XXXX, I organized community dental camps in rural areas around our city, Warangal. In particular, I ensured and improved the smooth operations of these events, making it possible for us to serve more patients and therefore do more good in the same length of time as previous camps. At our dentistry camps, I saw children with grossly decayed teeth, adults with bleeding gums, and people who lived with constant pain and discomfort. Bringing oral hygiene and dental care to under-served people made me feel blessed to have the opportunity to help others and to savor the smiles on the faces of my patients. Educating them about the importance of oral hygiene practices left me with a satisfaction even deeper than what I could achieve from performing “normal” dental procedures in the office. Not only was I providing them immediate relief, but by teaching them how to take care of their teeth and gums, I was giving them the gift of future health.
I am especially troubled by the way in which in my native India, many patients are infected in dental clinics. For this reason, I bring with me to dental school a special passion for the battle against infections in health care settings, a subject to which I have already devoted years of personal research and I hope to combine a lifetime of practicing dentistry with doing research and making public policy recommendations in the public health sector especially as concerns oral health care in India.
Since re-locating to the United States, I have continued to pursue my interest in dentistry and public health. I passed my board exams here in California and I am now an observer at the clinic of Dr. XXXX. I have also volunteered at several non-profit dental clinics. This has been a great opportunity to supplement my dentistry experience with the additional practical knowledge that it takes to run one’s own practice – everything from working with insurance companies to implementing infection protocols. I am more confident than ever that I have the skills it will require to pursue my dream of someday having my own practice.
The experiences I have had from clinics to camps have solidified my passion for improving my patients’ lives by improving and protecting their oral health. I am confident that I am ready to move onto the next phase of my career in dentistry – as an advanced placement student in your dentistry program.