Do you ever wonder why people pick certain professions? Did they always want to be a plumber, a writer, an architect, or a dentist? Over the 25 years of being a dentist, I have been asked many times why did I become a dentist. Now it is quite clear to me why I enjoy being a dentist, but I wonder what I would have said if you would have asked me that before entering dental school.
I started this blog in an attempt to change the public’s perception of dentistry and dentists to a more positive light. In an effort to change that persona of the negativity associated with The Dentist, I would like for you to meet someone. A bright, attractive young lady named Carly, who is about to enter Harvard Dental School in August, 2012. I have known Carly for many years, and I think our recent conversation will help you understand dentists as people. Our goal is to continue this blog over her dental school experience. Maybe by the end of these chronicles, you will look at dentists in a different way, and may even consider a future in dentistry yourself.
M: Can you remember the moment or time when you definitely decided you would pursue a career in dentistry? Was there an "Aha" moment for you? If so, please tell me about it.
C: I never had one single “Aha” moment. Deciding to become a dentist was more of a process for me. In high school I volunteered as an EMT, and in college I studied jewelry design and metalsmithing. As an EMT, I loved helping people and was fascinated by medicine and the human body. Being an artist developed my dexterity and attention to detail, and I loved working with my hands. Despite my love of art, I felt qualms about pursuing it as a career. I was doing it to please myself and didn’t feel that my work was beneficial for anyone else or the community. At some point during college, Dr. Lehmann suggested that dentistry would be an excellent career, especially with my metalsmithing skills. Although I didn’t pursue it at the time, her advice percolated in the back of my mind.
After college, I worked as an estate buyer in a jewelry store. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help improve peoples’ lives in the way I wanted. I thought of my experiences as an EMT and my conversations with Dr. Lehmann. I knew I wanted an intellectually challenging career that would let me give back to the people I work with and to my community. Dentistry will allow me to combine medicine and my artistic skills to make a positive difference in my patients’ health and give the best care possible.
M: What is it you are looking the most forward to about being a dentist?
C: I’m attracted to dentistry, because I know I can make a difference in people’s lives. I am looking forward to building relationships with my patients while working to make their lives better. I will also be constantly learning new things and educating myself and my patients.
M: What are you looking forward to about dental school?
C: For the past three years, I’ve been preparing and applying for dental school. I’ve been working so hard towards this, that it seems a little surreal to finally be about to begin. Now I’ll get to work even harder for the next four years! I’m excited about everything I’m going to learn and being able to work with my hands again. I think the human body is fascinating and I’m looking forward to learning about medicine. I’m also looking forward to being surrounded by people with similar interests and goals.
M: Is there anything that you are anxious about concerning dental school? ( the material, having to dissect a cadaver, having to learn how to give an injection? anything)
C: Because I don’t have a strong science background, I’m a little worried that I’ll have to struggle to keep up with the material. I loved the science classes I have taken, but I haven’t had any advanced courses beyond the basic prerequisites for dental school. Most of the other students in my class are coming straight from undergrad and were biology majors. I have been spending a lot of time this summer studying and reviewing, so I’ll be prepared when classes start in August.
I am also a bit anxious about giving injections, because I don’t want to cause anyone pain. I know that my fellow students and I will practice on each other. By the time I start working with patients, I’ll be a lot more comfortable. Now that I think about it, maybe I should be more anxious about having someone else practice on me.
M: What kind of reaction are you getting from people when you tell them you are going to dental school?
C: I usually get a positive reaction when people hear I’m going to dental school. Often, people will share stories about their own experiences with dentists. This has been a great way for me to get ideas for how I can better help my own future patients.
I am very excited for Carly as she begins this experience. I hope she finds as much fulfillment from dentistry as I do. I know she will make lifelong friends while in dental school. Stay tuned for the future installments of The Carly Chronicles.