Right after I tell somebody I aspire to become a dentist, I always get the same question, “Why Dentistry?” This may not sound like an important thing to worry about when friends or relatives ask you, but you need to realize that this question is inevitable when it is time for dental school interviews. Every school you interview at will ask this question to see what a career in dentistry means to you. If your answer is botched up, it could significantly hurt your chances.

Every time I get asked this question, I try to compose an answer that is honest and maintains the asker’s interest by balancing its length. This can be a very difficult task as the question is complicated to answer. In essence, its just like asking a pre-dental student, “Why are you dedicating the rest of your working life to dentistry. What gives you the confidence that you can do this for 30+ years and still be interested in it?” When put like this, one realizes how important it is to have an answer to this question that not only is sufficient for others but is also good enough for you.

When I get asked this quesiton, many reasons come to mind, but I have a difficult time putting my answer together into cohesive sentences. I get sporadic thoughts about all the things I want to mention. My solution to this issue is to tell a variant of my story in which I add more detail, take some out or just plainly omit areas completely. I look for signs that help me gauge my performance in answering the question. Sometimes it works better than others and I even get compliments like, “Wow I could really feel the passion from that answer!” For everyone interested in becoming a dentist, it is important to have an answer to this question that is ready in time for dental school interviews. That is why I recommend to treat every time somebody asks this question as if you are being interviewed for a seat at your dream dental school as one of their students.

Writing down your answer to the question can really help structure your answer when you are asked by someone.  I would advise everybody to start with a little exercise in which they brainstorm their answer. The following example, is something I wrote last week as the backbone to my answer:

I have had interest in becoming a dentist since elementary school. As I matured, I found most of my hobbies involved working on very small electronic parts that challenged me and my dexterity. These tasks never get boring to me as I could always improve my skills by producing better work and quicker. This helped me realize in high school that I wanted to “test the waters” on careers involving fine motor skills. The top career on my list was dentistry as I found it to fit my interests the best. As a dentist, one is their own boss, owns their own business, is part of the medical field, and most importantly to me, challenges motor skills.

During my junior year in high school, I was given the opportunity to shadow a prosthodontist for several days. I was so excited by my experiences that I immediately enrolled in dental assisting courses and I ended up working at the same prosthodontist where I became convinced that my dream is to become a dentist.

I knew dentistry is what I wanted to do with my life after one experience in particular. Shortly after receiving a brand new set of dentures from the lab, we gave them to the new owner, an old lady. Her previous dentures were severely worn out to the point that the back teeth were indistinguishable from the pink of the palatal plate. I watched her eyes light up the moment the new dentures seated in her mouth. Something as simple as dentures changed the shape of her face and got rid of the slur she had with her worn down dentures. I watched her face glow with happiness and excitement when she recognized she can finally eat food again. It felt spectacular to be in that room along with the dentist and that experience puts a smile on my face every time I think about it.

Since then, I knew, for sure, that I wanted to be a dentist. I had realized how important our teeth are to us as they affect so many aspects of our lives. I have been working at the same practice ever since whenever I am home on break.

 

This write up does not need to be perfect. The exercise is designed to “outline” what is important to your story and to help you stay on focus when telling your story to others. It is not meant to be memorized and regurgitated. Here are some key points of my story that together show my interest in dentistry:

  • I mentioned my interest working with my hands.
  • I looked into career choices and saw what appealed to me in dentistry
  • Experienced dentistry by shadowing
  • Took the initiative and started working as a dental assistant
  • Memorable experience that explains the joy dentistry gives me

This write-up can also act as a template for your personal statement for the AADSAS application (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). The prompt is:

Your Personal Statement should address why you desire to pursue a dental education and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals.

If you have an answer written up and you would like to have me look over it, post it in the comments section or email it to me if you prefer not to publish it. I would love to review it and give you suggestions.

I got my business cards in! They look and feel great!

My Business Card

 

A TON of my friends have been asking me, “Elias, why would you need business cards?”  Its pretty simple, WHY NOT? Business cards are cheap and effective and will make you stand out in a crowd. Imagine meeting a dentist at some conference, after a long and insightful conversation, you exchange business cards. Then Tom (a random pre-dental student I just made up) meets the same dentist and also has an insightful conversation, and as a result the dentist also gives Tom his business card, but Tom doesn’t have one to give back. Who do you think the dentist will be more impressed with and, as a result, remembered better? This scenario applies to many situation. It could even help during interviews for dental school!

 

Now you are probably asking, “Elias, where do I get my own business cards?” I bought mine from www.overnightprints.com for a ridiculously good price. There are many places to get them online, but I found a secret technique to getting great cards for cheap. I read a tip on the internet that recommended searching for the term “business cards” in google and to shop for prices using the ads displayed above the results. They have deals that they do not dare to advertise on the companies’ websites. You can refresh a few times and you might find a better deal from the same company, its all luck! For example, the 500 card deal for $8.45 from Overnight Prints (shown below) is on sale for $28.65 on their website. That is 70% OFF SALE PRICE. For once, google ads have been useful to me!

Here is an example search I just did:

Search google for "Business Cards" to find the best deals in the ads

 

Just make sure the business cards you order don’t have the printing company name on it (I’ve heard vistaprint is notorious for doing this, but I have not confirmed it myself). I know for sure Overnight Prints does not do that. Have fun making business cards!

 

Have a great weekend!

Elias Almaz

Pre-Dental Student Elias Almaz

Good day!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Elias Almaz. I am a second year biological sciences student at University of California, Irvine. Home of the anteaters, ZOT ZOT! I wanted to start a blog to help pre-health students decide if dentistry is the right career for them. This is an important objective of mine since going into a profession as specific as dentistry means one is investing into a lifelong commitment. Such a commitment should have a driving force backed by passion. It’s important to remember that if this career is pursued, you will be working in the profession for two or three decades. As a member of the UC Irvine Dental Club ASDA, American Student Dental Association,  as well as it’s treasurer, I have had the opportunity to mentor several pre-dental students here at UC Irvine to help them shape their reasoning for pursuing a career in dentistry. For those who are positive in their decision to become a dentist and are currently pre-dental students, this blog will provide much advice for ways to prepare for dental school and a future as a dentist.

As a second year in college, I have had the amazing privilege of working with Paul Binon, DDS, MSD, a prosthodontist and implant dentist in Northern California, who has been in the dental field for over thirty years. Dr. Binon has been my mentor for several years and has contributed a significant amount to my knowledge of dentistry . He is a member of several high caliber dental organizations like the American College of Prosthodontists, Academy of Osseointegration, and the Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics. Dr. Binon has taught and lectured throughout the world and has published over 50 scientific research and clinical articles relating to dental implants. I am truly thankful I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to know, work, and learn from Dr. Binon. His website has been one of my ongoing projects, and is an excellent resource for information about dental implants, dentures, crowns, and bridges. Please check it out if you are interested!

As for myself, I have worked as a Dental Assistant since 2009 and I have nearly 1,200 hours assisting chair side. In that time, I have had many eye opening experiences and have gained insight on what to expect when I take the role of a dentist in the near future. These experiences are what helped me come to the conclusion that dentistry is truly a passion of mine.  The soul purpose of this website, Almaz Dentistry, is to share these experiences and documenting my journey to becoming a dentist.

I’d like to start the blog with a little background information about myself and how dentistry became my profession of choice. I would like to officially welcome you to Almaz Dentistry, a resource for all pre-dental students to explore their near futures. If there is anything in particular you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below and I would love to respond and help in any way I can.

Keep an eye out for a future post which will answer the most difficult question for a pre-dental student , “Why Dentistry?”

 

-Eli