Changing career paths from medicine to dentistry was the hardest decision of my life. Cultural and familial expectations made me pursue medicine. After some personal reflection, though, I realized that my heart, my convictions and my talents belong in a dental career.
Growing up, my family and culture stressed certain educational paths. My role models were the physicians in our family who encouraged me to follow in their footsteps. Our close bond and passion for the biological sciences pushed me, my twin brother and my cousin all toward medicine. All roads seemed implicitly to point to the medical field.
Preparing for the DAT can be one of the most exciting, yet challenging times during a predental’s journey to dental school. You may become overwhelmed trying to find the best study materials or choosing a DAT preparation course. What most students do not realize is that success comes from not only how you utilize materials, but your time as well. One effective strategy is to adopt the mindset of an athlete training for a major event, such as a marathon.
One of the major hurdles to dental school is the DAT. This comprehensive exam requires the understanding of seemingly countless concepts and facts from various disciplines. A simple strategy involving visual cues can help predental students retain more information through a helpful approach known as the Roman Room. The name derives from Roman times when it was necessary to recite long poems, speeches, lists and numbers. This memorization technique leverages the association of visual imagery and organization. It is primarily effective for the retention of important information.
Everything started when I was not paying attention in my chemistry class. I was thinking about why I wanted to become a dentist. Ultimately, I deduced that I simply want to help people smile. As my mind continued racing, I realized that there are good smiles out there. No matter the smile, there is one characteristic that they almost all have in common. Teeth! Teeth are what make a smile beautiful, especially when they are clean, white and natural. Read on to find out how Marco founded his own nonprofit.
Volunteering in dental clinics is one of the most rewarding experiences predental students can have. The work can show you the clinical side of dentistry and also expose you to challenges you might face in practice.I started volunteering at a local dental clinic as a way to help low income and uninsured children. (The ADA wrote an article about the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic in 2014.) Volunteering here for more than a year taught me a lot about how to advance my career in dentistry. Here are some of the key concepts I learned:
Dentistry is a teamwork-driven field: we must learn to collaborate productively despite differences in our working styles. After all, the relationships between dentists, patients and employees are all important. Being in a profession where you work closely with people can be rewarding, but also challenging. Learning how to work with all types of people can prevent conflict, reduce stress and help your team achieve a common goal. So where do we start building these skills long before we put on those white coats and see patients of our own?
While I was studying at a coffee shop, I happened to meet a dentist. After chatting for a bit about his experiences in private practice and public health, I asked him if he had any advice for a current dental student. Without hesitation, he said, “It’s important to have a mentor who is willing to teach and guide you.”
Out of the many relationships that are created and maintained in the dental world, I believe that mentorship is one of the most vital and rewarding relationships. A mentor can teach and provide insight to the mentee that isn’t found in the classroom or a group setting. Having someone who is already doing what you’re working toward is beneficial throughout your journey. This one-on-one relationship allows the mentor to provide personalized advice for their specific questions or worries.