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Foreign-Trained Dentist, Dominican Republic

Full of hopes and dreams, I arrived in Boston in January 2012 within a year of finishing dental school in my home country, the Dominican Republic, to build a new life in the USA beside the man who is now my husband. As I adjusted to a new language, got married, and completed all paperwork necessary to work legally in America, I also seized opportunities to learn as much as possible about the practice of dentistry in the U.S. Shortly after my arrival, I began training to complete the requirements for Dental Assistant Certification and then landed a position with a prominent dentist in the Boston area. This position allowed me to both apply my education and at the same time continue to learn state-of-the-art techniques and expand my skill set.

I hope to be selected to your distinguished DDS/DMD program on the basis of my contribution to dentistry, my passion for helping the underserved, and serving as a role model for the oral health profession, Latinas in particular. I have also spent years in independent study of nutrition and fitness and I lead a group of women in a motivational course – Fit with Steph - to improve their health, wellness and self-image. Growing up, I spent countless hours daydreaming about becoming a dentist. I knew this profession would help me leverage my natural inclination towards the sciences and my detail-oriented personality. I have long craved the creativity that comes with Prosthodontics and the joy that accompanies the restoration of the patient’s smile. But more than anything else, dentistry has allowed to serve the most underprivileged members of our society who are in greatest need of my help. In the summer following my graduation from high school, all of my hopes and dreams were confirmed during a trip to Miami where I shadowed my aunt who is a dentist. She could not have been more inspiring. This opportunity to observe up close my aunt’s dedication to her patients, especially the poor and indigent, was the confirmation I needed that this was my calling.

After earning my DDS Degree Summa Cum Laude at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) in 2011, I served as a Dentist at the XXXX Dental and Esthetics Center while also caring for patients on a volunteer basis. Since shortly after immigrating to the USA, I have worked as a Dental Assistant for several exceptionally gifted dentists, falling in love with new techniques, particularly dental implants for oral and maxillofacial restoration. We craft dentures from tinted porcelain that look so real that they are virtually indistinguishable from real teeth. I am developing an increasingly solid grasp on CEREC CAD/CAM, which enables us to perform same day crown restorations. I was invited to be part of the Board of Trustees of the XXXX Hispanic Dental Association, providing opportunities to engage in dental outreach programs to members of our community. I also belong to the Hispanic International Mission. Last year we went to my country, the DR, specifically to a town called Samana, for a full week of non-stop dental care for people who had no other access to such care. The opportunity to serve people in my homeland has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life.  

I know I have so much more to learn and I keenly look forward to fully rebooting my dental career and becoming licensed to practice dentistry in the U.S. After earning my degree, I am very much attracted to the idea of participating in government-sponsored community healthcare initiatives so as to most fully dedicate myself to public service. Eventually, I would like to open my own practice and further advance my education in a post-doctoral training program in Prosthodontics.  

I have a strong thirst for knowledge and I am determined to give that extra mile to achieve my dream of working here in the United States as a dentist. I have had the experience of working with a great variety of populations, from children to the elderly; from the very poor to those with a lot of money; and I know instinctively how to react to every situation and I am highly effective at gaining the trust of all of my patients. An authentic and compassionate clinician, I produce and provoke a lot of smiles. As a student in your program, I will also be able to learn many things of great value from my fellow foreign dentists, listening to experiences about dentistry in their home countries, a mutually enriching experience. I look forward to further developing my leadership and patient- care skills so as to make the greatest contribution possible to the field and every patient I have the privilege to care for in the years to come. I have every confidence that I can prove to be a valuable asset to your ASPID this year and I thank you for considering my application.

Sample Personal Statement for Orthodontics Residency, Spanish-Speaking, Latino Community, Puerto Rican and Guatemalan

I am a dentist whose life centers around providing high quality care and smiles, especially to my Spanish-speaking community. To the extent to which I am able to do so in the future, progressively, as my career matures, I want to devote as much time as possible to those members of the Spanish-speaking community in America who are underserved, many who are both undocumented and unable to afford dental care. For me, an oral health professional seeking a residency position in Orthodontics, I am aware that my chosen specialty is often thought of as ‘cosmetic’, a luxury expense, and not as any kind of entitlement as a member of the community; and this is probably particularly true with respect to recent Spanish-speaking arrivals to the USA from Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly if they are undocumented. I want to resist this perspective, however, and to suggest that the spirit of community in our melting-pot land of immigrants can reach to the point of providing for orthodontic treatment for the underserved, at least some of them, as many as possible.

Earning my DDS in 2005 and spending the next two years serving at a hospital, I then completed 2 years of general dentistry residency, going on to earn a certificate in Implantology: Surgical and prosthetic treatment, a 2-year program. I also became certified as an Invisalign provider in 2011. My father is from Puerto Rico and my mother from Guatemala. Born and raised in Queens, New York City, with both parents primarily Spanish-speaking, I feel equally comfortable in both English and Spanish. I am familiar with urban, Latino communities and immigrant issues, and I feel called to the very fiber of my being to serve those members of my special, minority community, those primarily-Spanish-speakers who most need my support. I look forward to a long professional lifetime laboring to educate the community concerning the importance of dental hygiene and occlusion – in both languages. My long-term plan is to serve for decades as a mentor sharing all that I hope to learn about Orthodontics, passing on the torch to new generations of Orthodontists.

Contributing to research in Orthodontics is also central to my long-term plans especially with respect to the relationship between orthodontic treatments, on the one hand, and implantology on the other. I intend to stay on the cutting edge of implantology as well, an area in which I have already acquired extensive training, and I also hope to contribute at some point in my career to research in the area of malocclusion. A general dentist with more than ten years of experience, I am now also a certified orthodontist. I have been practicing all phases of general dentistry and at this point I know what I want: Orthodontics. I find my greatest happiness helping patients to achieve the healthiest and most beautiful smile possible. I love the way that it enhances their confidence and quality of life.

The highest moments of my life have been devoted to my community, providing free dental screening for toddlers, for example, enabling the early detection of dental cavities and malocclusion. Other highlights include annual free toothbrush, toothpaste and floss distributions as part of oral health awareness campaigns in my community and food and clothing drives for Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria. Sky diving and Scuba diving help to keep me grounded. I thank you for considering my application to your distinguished residency program in Orthodontics.