Back in 2013, when I had freshly graduated from Manipal University in India, I was a wide eyed 21 year old girl with a lot of dreams and naivete. I had a good academic record, was President of the Student Council, hundreds of hours in community service, and was graduating from an incredible university.
A lot of graduates from my university had made it to an American school in their first attempt, they made it seem easy to the rest of us. And, so I thought it would be the same for me. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Right?
I gave my NBDE boards, shadowed at a local dentist’s office in California, and applied to a few schools. Lo and behold, I got some interviews! I was excited and nervous as I went for these interviews. All of my family, and I expected that I’d get into at least one school.
Yeah, that did not happen.
It would be 3 cycles and 2 full years before I landed my first acceptance. It was a gut wrenching process because there were several people, and colleagues, who told me to try something else in the meantime. ‘Why don’t you apply to the UK? Why don’t you apply for a residency program in India? Why are you trying for a dental school in the US- AGAIN?’
It was also a very confusing time because I had lost faith in myself during the process. I remember very clearly the winter of 2014 after I’d attended 4 interviews and gotten rejected by them all. I was sitting in my childhood bedroom in Dubai, scrolling on Facebook and observing people I knew, posting about getting into not one but two or three schools that year.
Where had I gone wrong? What was I supposed to do next?
Although I did everything right in terms of applications, and was ‘qualified’, there was something BIG lacking.
After a lot of time spent receiving coaching, discussing my shortcomings with trusted colleagues, and working relentlessly towards my weaknesses, I figured what those things were.
All of this and more is described in my upcoming book: PERSEVERING: a complete guide on schools, residency and work opportunities for foreign trained dentists in the United States.
Why ‘Persevering’? Because, even though I am a practicing dentist now, own a business and it has been several years since I was ‘trying’ to get into dental school, like a lot of other foreign trained dentists, I am still PERSEVERING. Although you might think, at this time, that getting into an American dental school will be the Everest you need to climb. The truth couldn’t be further.
There are many more Everests ahead of you in this journey!
Getting into school is JUST step 1, step 2 is navigating the challenging immigration process and landing a job you love, step 3 is finding your own voice and standing out as a dentist within your community, step 4 is buying your own practice, associating for a group practice or finding another opportunity in this ever- evolving industry.
I talk about all of this in my book
It’s not only about getting into school, it is also about work opportunities, immigration and residency options after attending school. This is a book for everyone who is interested in getting licensed and ready to practice in the US, who has tried applying for a couple of years and is still not getting that golden acceptance, who finds themselves lost and confused in the process of applications and paperwork, or someone who simply needs a friend/guide/mentor in their journey.
The biggest thing I have learned is the importance of helping your colleagues- yes, the same people who will be interviewing with you at schools. The same people who others ask you to ‘avoid at all costs because they are your competition!’ THEY are actually your best bet in getting accepted. If you treat them well, build genuine friendships, and lean on each other for support, there is no reason why all of you will not be successful. When I started looking around and seeing my colleagues as friends and confidantes in this journey, and genuinely helping them, I found that they were willing to help me too. This became a turning point and a reason for me to get accepted. Many of the people I met while applying to schools, are close friends to this day.
To buy my book once it is out, subscribe to this website’s newsletter to stay updated on its launch date! Hope you are as excited as I am!
If you are in a dental school outside of the US and are interested in having me present my findings from the book at your school, please contact me here for a speaking engagement. Please feel free to share a link to this website with schools, classmates and colleagues.