That's what I want engraved on a brass plate one day, sitting on my desk. Right above it, on the wall behind my chair, I'd like framed evidence of my degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. Is that so much to ask for?
I know that I'm the type who has close to a million dreams. I have changed my career plans countless times over the past 4 years. At one point, I was dead-set on building up an empire committed to meeting the design needs of everyone, from printed invitations to multimedia-infused websites. At another fifth-life crisis, I knew I'd be the next chancellor of SMath. Sometimes I wish that I was a cat with 9 lives. I just want to do EVERYTHING when it comes to careers. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I have many options and could be happy with any of them. On the other, I'll always look back and wonder how different my life might have been had I chosen a different career path.
So, dentistry. It's the most recent of my career aspirations. However, it's been floating in the back of my mind ever since I was a child. People often ask me, "Why dentistry?" I usually fumble over providing a response that "it gives you a great schedule" and "I really love working with people" or "I'm really attracted to the health care field". None of these answers have ever really satisfied me. I want to be able to say that I am passionate about providing dental care to people. I got what I needed on Friday, October 23rd.
Friday, I worked from 6am to 5pm at a free dental clinic in Dare County offered by the NC Missions of Mercy. This was my first encounter with dentistry in a setting in which I was not the patient. I've never shadowed a dentist or volunteered with a dentist as many folks in UNC's pre-dental honor society have probably already done. I didn't expect to actually be assisting a dentist during the clinic; at most I thought that I would be observing. As it turns out, I was actually able to do some pretty hands-on stuff as a dental assistant.
I worked with Dr. Dan Cheek up until lunch time, when he had to attend a Board meeting for the NC Dental Society (he is the President-Elect). We were doing restorative work on several patients over the span of the morning, doing mostly composite fillings. I learned so much in that span of a few hours and enjoyed every minute of it. Dr. Cheek was so helpful and encouraging. He even introduced me to Dr. Williams, the Dean of UNC's School of Dentistry. Furthermore, Dr. Cheek invited me to me shadow him at his practice, which happens to be in Hillsborough. The rest of the afternoon, I worked with Dr. Smith of Florida. We proceeded with many of the same procedures that I learned with Dr. Cheeks. I did, however, get the chance to perform amalgam fillings; a different procedure than traditional enamel-colored composite fillings.
The entire day was filled fixing smile after smile for patients who were so thankful for the dental care that we provided. These people put joy in my heart, and made me realize that there's a reason why God gave me the intelligence and determination to make it here to Carolina and to pursue a career in dentistry. The dental clinic on Friday inspired a passion for dentistry within me that I desired. The physicality of working with patients and meeting their dental needs gave me what I needed to finally know that I am pursuing dentistry out of passion of serving others, not for the selfish gain of wealth. Now, I've just got to do my part by working hard in my classes and pursuing opportunities to learn more about dentistry. I'm excited about this *fairly* new path that God has directed me to. Please keep me in your prayers. Chemistry is not my 'cup of tea', and it's a daily battle for me to stay afloat in that subject. I appreciate your support and prayers.