Convocation spotlight: Dentistry '22 grad Avni Sharma

Avni will receive her DDS in June.

6 June 2022

What are you most proud of from your time in the program?

When I delivered my first set of dentures to a patient and she saw herself in the mirror, I could clearly see her eyes light up as she smiled. That’s when she looked at me and said ‘’I had totally forgotten how I looked while smiling because I felt so underconfident. But this will change starting today’.’ It was a heartfelt moment and the fact I could contribute to shaping her confidence was a huge moment of pride for me.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Undoubtedly maintaining a healthy work/study-life balance. Dental school has quite an intense curriculum and it's understandable to get lost and burn out. There were times I would get so caught up in deadlines that I wouldn’t find time to relax, and it ended up being a vicious cycle. Eventually, I was able to navigate it by focusing on self-care through a constant reminder that only when my mind is healthy and happy, I can give my best to my work and patients. Eventually, I started to devote one hour every day to pursue an activity that helped me disconnect from the routine and that was quite the stressbuster for me.

What initially drew you to this area of study?

It would have to be my father, who at the time served in the military as a dentist. It always intrigued me to see the impact his work had on the lives of his patients by uplifting their self-esteem. Watching him carve dental restorations reminded me of my hobby of sketching a portrait. It made me realize that dentistry was the perfect amalgamation of creativity, technique and scientific skills, unlike any other profession. As a result, pursuing dentistry seemed like a privilege to contribute to society in a meaningful way, as opposed to a mere career choice.

What lessons will you take from pursuing a degree during the pandemic?

It would have to be staying true to one’s values, adaptability and patience. There will be times when life doesn’t go our way and tests our patience. Working my way through an incredibly demanding program was certainly challenging, but what helped me rise to the challenges was being able to adapt to the rapidly changing times and give my 100 per cent to the situation. The faculty was a huge inspiration as they worked tirelessly alongside students, tailoring the curriculum to prevent any impediment in our learning experience. It motivated me and my peers to put our best foot forward and deliver the highest standard of care to our patients. All this while staying patient and reminding myself that ‘’this too shall pass’’!

What comes next for you in your career?

Although I consider myself a lifelong student, for the next few years I want to integrate the evidence-based knowledge and skills I have learned into clinical practice to deliver the best possible patient care. At the same time, I hope to enrol in continuing education programs regularly to stay adept with the advancements in dentistry and best practices. Further, I want to take my time in understanding which areas of dentistry excite me and yet challenge me the most and perhaps then do a deeper dive in that field.

What advice would you give to a student thinking of entering your program of study?

Dental school is challenging but allows for an extremely rewarding profession, one that allows us to create a strong and lasting impact in our community. However, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses is the key be successful in this program. Being competitive is great, but avoid comparison with others. Have faith in your abilities, stay humble about your achievements and know that every day is one more opportunity to learn and grow. I hope you have an exciting and unforgettable learning experience like I did! I wish you the best!