4 min read

Dr. Eliza Feinberg held up the mirror. "Go ahead", she encouraged her patient. After a few seconds of hesitation, her patient finally opened her eyes and I watched in surprise as she began to sob. Following 15 years of living with chipped teeth and constant self-doubt, her smile was perfect again. My alumni mentor Dr. Feinberg had invited me to shadow her at her clinic and she explained later that it was common to see patients respond with joy and tears upon seeing their dream smile.

That moment resonated with me and took me back to a similar time during my adolescence. Much like my peers, I struggled with my image and self- confidence. When combined with having crooked teeth and braces, this made for a difficult time in school. My lack of self-esteem led me to avoid social situations at a time when I should have been building relationships with my peers. In later years, once my braces came off, my smile was freed, and with it, my confidence. This carried on into university where my confidence grew to be an asset and emboldened me to join student groups, excel academically and become a student leader in my university's community. In that moment, I realized that dentistry is more than just improving a physical smile, but greatly impacts how we feel about our whole selves.

During my formative years in high school and with strong interests in science, I expressed the desire to pursue a career in health care early on. It was through my volunteering experience at a local hospital in Dubai and rotating through several medical specialties that further confirmed my conviction, that dentistry was the right path for me. As I explored dentistry, the broad scope of practice it offered was exciting. It fascinated me to see the play between learned knowledge and the need for dexterity, along with creativity and aesthetic sense to produce the best results.

Through shadowing opportunities, I learned the importance of communication with patients, to be sensitive to their needs and queries. Observing how successful dentists connect with their patients, I discovered parallels in their patient care and my experience teaching piano to disadvantaged children through the University of Manitoba's Music Box Children's Charity. I had the privilege of working with children of different ages and family backgrounds and aside from improving their musical abilities, our lessons taught me to be both an active listener and attentive to each child's needs and strengths.

This past summer, I worked closely and developed genuine relationships with my peers to create a tight-knit community around me. I have been working as chairperson for Orientation at the University of Manitoba, managing a team of 150 undergraduates to create events that will best prepare students for university. The magnitude of this undertaking has given me the opportunity to learn about effective leadership styles when interacting with members of my team whilst managing and delegating tasks with consensus and mutual respect. I have seen that dental practice also requires a team approach, with the central focus and goal being to provide the best treatment plan and care for the patient. Having grown up in Dubai, I observed a lack of awareness regarding oral health with people having a reactive rather than preventative approach to it. Part of my enthusiasm for dentistry is to use my community-building experiences to develop positive, trustworthy patient relationships and encourage them to take charge of their oral health.

When you meet someone new, their smile has the power to reflect their personality and leave an impression. The smallest difference in one's oral care can have a big impact on their overall well-being and the significance of that instigates an excitement within me to pursue a career in this facet of healthcare. I believe that dentistry allows me to meet my career goals as dentists are healthcare experts with the skills and opportunity to work in a team setting, providing care to all ages, creating awareness, and giving back to the community. An opportunity to work in this profession would not only give me the level of personal satisfaction but would also allow me to pursue my dream of making a difference by helping people look and feel healthier, more attractive, and confident. Through genuine care, support, and encouragement, my dentist helped improve my appearance and self-esteem and I look forward to the opportunity to make the same positive impact in my future patient's lives.

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