I was really excited to start performing in a professional setting and was already looking for opportunities by the winter break of my freshman year. I applied to PRISM as a freshman and was accepted to work with a senior and a professor on a potentially publishable paper. This was such an amazing experience for me and I learned so much in such a short six-week program. PRISM was also able to offer group workshops where we had the opportunity to talk to professionals about our Linkedin profiles and how to use our experiences to our advantage. I presented my PRISM 2020 final poster to all the other PRISM participants and teachers as well as at the student showcase in the fall. Even though this is not my field of intended profession, I am still very passionate about ecology and how that affects the world around us. I learned how to communicate, perform at a higher level, and analyze large data sets. I am grateful for that opportunity because it allowed me to seamlessly start my dental internship.
I started my internship/shadowing with Dr. Marshall in the summer of 2021 and it was such a great experience. From the first day, I felt like I belonged in this space. Dr. Marshall was an amazing instructor, he would give me assignments to help familiarize myself with the dental practice and give me advice about taking the Dental Acceptance Test (DAT). I wrote down questions while he was with patients and then we would discuss the procedures after. I learned that dentistry is not only being a health professional, but also being a boss, and a caring friend. To reflect on my internship I wrote a final reflective essay on my time at Dr. Marshalls. Now I still continue to work with Dr. Marshall as an employee and he continues to prepare me for dental school.
Through the skills I learned from watching, working in the dental lab sterilizing equipment, and helping around the office I was able to take my skills one step further. I got the opportunity to volunteer at a three-day event called “Missions of Mercy.” Here I was able to shadow other dental specialties and then work hands-on as a dental assistant. This was an intimidating experience however it was really nice to be able to put my years of practice to the test. Serving rural areas in dentistry is vital and necessary. It really has opened my eyes to the need for better oral health education and the importance of giving back to the community. I also got to meet a lot of the dental students from VCU and it was neat to get to talk to them about their recent experiences. I have attached my artifact to the right, I am somewhere in this picture. We served over 500 people a day.