Dentistry pretty much fell in my lap. I remember being a sophomore in college and realizing that it was almost time to choose prep classes for professional school entrance exams. The only problem was… I didn’t know which one to sign up for. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, but I never really put thought into which type I wanted to be.
I could say, like most Nigerian-American children, that my parents’ guidance had a lot to do with why I wanted to be in the healthcare field. My mom is a pharmacist so I had early exposure. I eventually developed a curiosity for
any field that included medicine.
My sophmore year in college I began to shadow. I didn’t want to be a physician because “everyone was doing it” (The majority of my friends are in med school). If I was going to pick a profession, I wanted to pick one because I had passion for it. The first thing I shadowed was dentistry and I loved it. I noticed it was different from medicine because you didn’t necessarily rely on medication to make patients better. It was really a hands-on profession and I could appreciate that. I liked that you learned about how one’s systemic health could impact the oral cavity. I shadowed a little more, and got a chance to review the life style of the dentist. I loved it and decided then, that this was the field for me.
How are you coping with being away from family and friends?
I don’t live too far from home, About 2 hours and a half west of Atlanta. Regardless of the distance though, It’s difficult to go home because of the vigor of courses. How do I cope? I’m still in the process of making this place home. Slowly but surely, its all coming to pieces. I’m very involved with my church and have also gotten active with my community when I have time. I work out, and most of the time I’m studying so I don’t really feel the nostalgia. Of course, I’ve missed a couple of important functions that my friends have had, but they all pretty much understand.
When I get an opportunity to go home, I capitalize on it; It’s always refreshing to get away from school work and all the feelings that come with it. I try my best to keep up with my family via telephone and my friends via social networks (mainly) and telephone as well.
How to you manage a full course load and fit in other activities like working out and making time for God?
Very good question! I feel like every professional student will tell you that it is indeed a balancing act… Its get difficult; At different time periods of the school semester you are better at juggling some aspects than others. It all boils down to being intentional. You have to make the conscious effort of working out, just like you make the effort to eat. You have to make the conscious effort of feeding your spirit, just as you make the effort to study. At the end of the day, what do you gain studying for hours upon hours about physiology and pharmacology, but you don’t feel and look healthy? All of these aspects have to be important to you, for you to be able to fit in other activities into your schedule.
What advice do you have for pre-dents?
Be passionate about something. Find a theme and stick with it. During the application process you’re going to want your application to be different from all the other ones. For me, I loved music and the arts. Upon picking up my application, that was almost always the first question my interviewer would ask about. When you have something you’re passionate about, it makes you memorable. It also adds a dimension to you!
I would also advise that you are also passionate about dentistry and not just the lifestyle and perks. If not, when the going gets tough (and it will), you’ll have very little to hold on. My passion for dentistry and helping people have gotten me through the toughest times of my first year and this passion is still doing so.
What’s the most important thing your first year of dental school taught you?
Never give up. Even when it seems like you can’t, you can. I’ve also learned that comparison never helps you during this professional journey. Comparing yourself to your classmates can add more stress that you do not need. (Professional school does a good job of doing that and needs no extra help whatsoever).
This may also sound cliché, but keep God first. He has literally been my ultimate help throughout this process. Getting in was all Him, and staying in is all by His grace.
Mark has recently begun a life style blog to inspire people to follow their passions and hobbies. If you enjoy the content on this blog, his will surely not disappoint! Check it out!