-Worked at my parents’ dental lab and liked the hands-on and artistic aspects of creating teeth
-Fast gratification (i.e. it only takes 30 min to cut off the decay from a tooth, 30 min to design and create a crown, and replace the diseased tooth with a beautiful shiny crown. you only have to work for .5-3 hours to see your work of art come out in the end)
-Makes a huge impact on patients. People can smile, eat, talk, laugh, better than they could. Homeless people can get jobs, insecure people can overcome low self-esteem, seniors can feel youthful again, etc.
-I like administrative duties, creative marketing, and managing teams
-I like the idea of being an expert of something that’s relevant and accessible to everyone. For the rest of my life I’ll be happy to take questions from my friends like “sarah i have this weird red swollen thing under my tongue help what is dis”
-See patients multiple times a year and watch them bring in their friends and family and grow up over decades
-Set your own hours–some people close at 3PM, some people only work 3 days a week, etc.
-Desperate need around the world for access to dental health care and education, and I’d be able to set my schedule so I could take off a few months at a time to Honduras or spend a weekend in rural VA helping those needs
-Not life/death situations
-I like science, socializing, crafting, and serving
What motivates you?
-All of the above
-Really really supportive parents who go above & beyond bc I have access to a dental lab and networking opportunities with their clients
Do you think it’s worth the time/money to pursue?
-I heard that for every dental class not everyone graduates. Some people realize it’s not for them, or some people don’t do well academically. But I would guess that some of them don’t feel like it’s a waste bc…if they didn’t try dental school and went on to a less appealing job, they would always wonder about dentistry and not giving it a try
-A lot of people decide later. For example I’ve met a 30 year old guy who was an investment banker until he decided to do dental, 29 year old woman who wanted to be a dancer and a dentist, so she danced in NYC until now bc she got married and “felt ready to move on and make money”
-Therefore It’s definitely worth it if it’s for you! The money will come back when you start working
How I knew it was “for me”
-Shadowing general dentists in private practices and free clinic events…found myself wishing I could be the one pulling the tooth or befriending the patient.
-The lifestyle is very appealing towards the future I imagine for myself (social; diverse; time for family, church, and community service)
-My “lightbulb moments” were when:
1. seeing really devastating cases in Honduras and how dentists who didn’t even speak Spanish could relieve long-lasting pain in as little as 15 min…just because they showed up. And seeing the patients’ reactions
2. hands-on work in the lab and the office
Actions I recommend you take now to help you in your exploration
-Shadow a private practice dentist
-Go to one of these http://www.vdaf.org/Missions-Of-Mercy/mission-of-mercy.html
-Alternative to Mission of Mercy: ask to shadow at a free clinic http://www.vafreeclinics.org/