Registered Dental Hygienist to Medical Doctor: My Career Change Story

Registered Dental Hygienist to Medical Doctor: My Career Change at (almost) 30

Comparing these two pictures side by side, you see two very different people. I mean, they’re both me of course but my surety and wit are completely different. To the left, is me, a rising dental hygiene student in my junior year, ready to take the big step of becoming a registered dental hygienist and on my way to landing my ultimate career path at the time, to become a dentist.
On the right, is a wide-eyed first-year medical student, so sure of my path ahead after making a career change and essentially starting over. To think I entered NYU Dental at the age of 18 with so much thrill to be living in the Big Apple and ready to take the biggest bite out of it but in fact, I got bit by another bug. In fact, a few years into my career as a Dental Hygienist, I started itching. There were many nights I stayed up doing loads of research, scratching my head about the thoughts running through my mind and epiphanies that were unfolding before my eyes.

I began considering a different career path. I started to see with each patient that their complex medical histories correlated to various manifestations in the mouth. This gave me much fulfillment. I started to see that anything beyond prevention and patient education would not truly fulfill me. I couldn’t see myself drilling into tooth enamel, extracting teeth and doing root canals for the rest of my life. This is not to say that becoming a dentist is unfulfilling, but I just could not see it for myself.

I knew and loved that rewarding feeling of seeing my patients transform their bloody, spongy diseased gum tissues to a firm, pink and stippled “gummy smile” due to improved oral hygiene. I loved encouraging my patients to follow up with their primary care physician to check nutritional deficiencies, PTH levels, and diabetes as there were so many correlations I could see in their mouth.

All of this investigative treatment planning and patient empowered transformations drew me to medicine. You never know where life will take you, but it’s clear that my career destiny was around the corner.

It’s never too late to invest in yourself and your dreams.

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