Isabel Chan is currently an undergraduate studying Dentistry at King’s College London. She completed her A-Levels at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar and is graduating in 2024. This personal statement was part of her successful application to King’s College London and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry for Dentistry.
The maxillofacial surgeon was bent in concentration, operating on an 18 year old girl with a double mandibular fracture. If untreated, this could cause facial deformities, affecting speech and mastication, which could impact her severely for the rest of her life. It is a privilege to witness this procedure as not many professions have the opportunity to construct something functional yet aesthetically pleasing, to rebuild self esteem in others. This cemented my decision to be a dentist so that others can be part of society with confidence and self esteem.
Gaining realistic insight into the daily life of a dentist has helped me decide on this career path. Shadowing a general dentist introduced me to a range of dental procedures such as orthodontics, endodontic therapy and implant surgery, which helped me understand how gruelling the work is, along with the long hours involved. Despite that, there were moments that struck me deeply. His encouragement to a local singer to talk freely about her issues with her appearance struck me how confidence levels can affect even large personalities, and how dentists can assist people to be more confident and happier with themselves.
By observing a prosthodontist working with a stroke survivor, I realised the importance of communication and empathy. Her sensitivity and patience stood out in the way she understood and responded to a stroke survivor’s individual needs. The necessity to give the best possible care to every patient regardless of station or health is reflected on her returning patients’ satisfaction, as well as their growing inner confidence. The importance of these values was significant when I was volunteering in a nursing home. Seeing first-hand how the elderly are living from donations and outside help exposed me to the stark reality of deteriorating health in the elderly. Through assisting a resident with dementia with her baths, I learnt how to connect with her by adapting my communication style. Through her, I learnt mutual respect is absolutely crucial in promoting good communication. These experiences strengthened my desire to serve the underprivileged and forgotten, to help them live lives with dignity they deserve.
My shadowing sparked a curiosity in bone remodelling in orthodontics and prosthodontics. Reading journal articles helped me understand the process of resorption and formation of new bone. These insights, combined with my previous shadowing, led me to research about the suitability of dentures as an option for tooth replacement. I learnt it does not always provide the necessary stimulation to maintain bone density. This could lead to further bone resorption, which could affect the adjacent teeth. I am excited to learn more in this field, and I believe studying dentistry will help me learn and apply alternative and new technologies for tooth replacement.
Some of my experiences have taught me skills that are important for a good dentist. Swimming in the relay team for my boarding house showed the importance of working together to achieve a common goal. Our success as a team shined as we helped our house to win first place for the event. My role as a prefect had also developed my leadership skills, while cultivating responsibility within myself. An exchange program to Sabah, a diverse region with different cultures, challenged me to build rapport with people from varied backgrounds. Helping juniors with homework taught me to think about problems from their perspective and to explain using simple terms, which is applicable to patient communication. Beading as a pastime honed my manual dexterity and helped me practise fusing function and aesthetics. I believe the skills I developed will assist me in the rigorous practice of dentistry.
I aspire to be like the maxillofacial surgeon I had shadowed, combining function and aesthetics to encourage individuals to grow into the best version of themselves, regarding themselves with self esteem and confidence.
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