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I Can Change the World One Tooth at a Time!

 

Ever since childhood I have enjoyed working with my hands. Whether as an eight year- old gluing together a model car or an adolescent assembling a bookshelf in woodworking class, I thrived on the challenges of precise and meticulous tasks. Throughout high school I have been intrigued by the sciences, but it was not until I read about late-breaking discoveries and research in the field of genetics that my interests in science intensified. When I entered the University of British Columbia (UBC), I naturally chose to specialize in Cell Biology and Genetics.

 

In my sophomore year at UBC, I first began to seriously consider dentistry as a career. At that time, I began to appreciate the important role that dentistry played in my life. Four years earlier, I began an orthodontic treatment program with Dr. Junni Wang to correct a severe crowding problem with my teeth. Both before and during the treatment, I was a most reluctant participant; not many teenagers look forward to braces filling their mouth during their last two years of high school, and I was no different.

 

However, at every monthly check-up for three-and-a-half years the office staff had nothing but kind words of encouragement and optimism. Now after the completion of the treatment I had reason to smile. Dr. Wang helped turn me from a shy adolescent who feared smiling into a confident, outgoing young man. His skills not only brought back my smile, but also my sense of confidence in all aspects of my life. Whereas once I feared drawing attention to myself and thus shied away from leadership posts and debates, now I am a completely different person. Hoping to feel as satisfied and gratified as Dr. Wang must have felt in improving not only my smile but my entire way of life, I look forward to improving the oral health of patients on a daily basis and participating in dentistry' s friendly, team-oriented work environment.

 

After this preliminary ' patient-doctor' exposure to dentistry, I substantially increased my involvement in the field to determine if dentistry really was for me. My participation with the UBC Pre-Dental Society allowed me to communicate with various professionals in the field. I also investigated opportunities to volunteer in the University Dental Clinic or participate in research work. After speaking to a couple of professors in the UBC Faculty of Dentistry asking them about research opportunities, I found a topic that interested me. Dr. Putnins, of the Division of Periodontics, offered me a position in his lab to conduct a semi-quantitative analysis to determine the levels of endotoxin in dental unit water lines.

 

After taking many water samples from the University Dental Clinic and quantifying the amounts of endotoxin (lipopolysaccahride) in those samples with an Limulus Abeocyte Lysate test, I prepared to publish dentistry' s first account of this type of experiment. I conducted the study over a 16-week span (Jan.-Apr.' 98), and the research work counted as 3.0 credits towards my undergraduate degree. Because the vast majority of my work was self-directed, I submitted my findings for evaluation by the faculty in a 32-page report with 46 references, and I also defended my methods before a panel of professors. Impressed by the findings and results, Dr. Putnins will use my study as a key component of a journal article he is currently preparing for the Journal of Dental Research (JDR). The school also submitted an abstract of my findings for presentation at the upcoming 77th General Session of the International Association of Dental Research (IDAR) to be held at Vancouver, Canada. I am keenly looking forward to this unique opportunity to have my work appear before distinguished members of the dental research community. My positive research experience definitely helped reinforce my goal of becoming a dentist.

 

In addition, my employment as a Canada Customs Inspector has helped me improve my level of social awareness and helped me develop qualities I can usefully apply to dentistry. As a Customs Inspector, I had the opportunity to communicate effectively with many different types of people in various situations. I have also developed the ability to resolve conflicts, defuse difficult situations, and show empathy even during cases of enforcement. In addition, my experience with team sports has provided me with leadership skills that can not be taught in any textbook. As the captain of my hockey team and the coach of a children' s team, I have developed excellent communication skills and the ability to identify and work effectively with kids. All of these qualities will prove very important to my future career in dentistry.

 

Attracted by the dental profession' s ability to positively impact people' s lives, just like my orthodontist, and by the profession' s financially rewarding and stable lifestyle, I look forward to one day opening my own practice and becoming a well-respected member of both the community of dentists and the community of patients. While my GPA may not be as high as some applicants' , my academic record shows a consistent positive. I know I have the intelligence, ability, and determination to achieve success in dentistry; I only need the opportunity. My dental research experience combined with my academic background, personal qualities, and leadership abilities makes me well suited to accept the challenges in the field of dentistry. I look forward to an interview and the chance to discuss my qualifications in person.

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