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Describe your experience as a dental student during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting dental school in the midst of a global pandemic has been the most challenging situation I have ever endured, and it is particularly difficult for myself and my peers as we attend a three-year accelerated program; however, these circumstances have pushed me to become more inventive.
For instance, I have not had a chance to meet many of my classmates due to remote learning, but I started conducting independent study sessions on Google Hangouts and I have gotten a chance to befriend many of my fellow D1s at Dugoni!
Additionally, since our time in the simulation clinic is limited, I naturally have begun to experiment with techniques to work on assignments more efficiently.
How do you see dentistry evolving amid the ongoing pandemic?
One major concern in dentistry with respect to COVID-19 is the generation of aerosols. One procedure I recently started learning about is ultrasonic scaling to remove plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces. As an alternative to such procedures, at least in these uncertain times, clinical dentistry may revert back to more manual techniques. In the case of scaling, for instance, hand scalers may be used in place of the ultrasonic despite potentially being less time efficient.
Regarding operations logistics, dental practices and clinics are mandated to work at limited capacity, and I would imagine many patients are more afraid now than ever before to see their dentists. As such, once COVID-19 is controlled, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, the need for dentistry may skyrocket.
Have you discovered a dental specialty you would like to pursue? If so, which specialty and what helped you realize this passion?
I am keeping an open mind in regards to what dental specialty I would like to pursue, but I would definitely love to incorporate research into my career. During my time as a biochemistry student at Chapman University, I learned I have a strong affinity for scientific research. For my senior capstone project, I was ambitious in designing my own Eastern medicine-based toothpaste and assessing its safety and antibacterial efficacy relative to mainstream brands. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue this research at the Dugoni School!
Has a current dental school professor made a positive impact on you? What would you like to say to them?
It was a pleasure to be a student of Dr. Nick Kitajima, one of Dugoni’s adjunct preclinical faculty. I had Dr. Nick for my first quarter of Direct Operative Technique and his teaching method was very hands-on. In the first few weeks of school, when I was struggling to prep the occlusal surface of a posterior tooth for an amalgam filling, Dr. Nick took the time to diagram out how to perform the prep in discrete steps and even demonstrated the procedure for me. Now, I am both more proficient and efficient at drilling because of his pointers. Thank you, Dr. Nick, for everything that you do!
What made you interested in dentistry?
My family dentist, Dr. Paul W. Skoglund, of whom I am a third-generation patient, is my biggest role model. His lighthearted demeanor and enthusiasm for dentistry piqued my interest at an early age. Also, for as long as I can remember, I have always had a natural inclination toward making art and being creative. Appropriately, the first toy I ever owned was a Play-Doh Doctor Drill ‘n Fill Set. So, dentistry chose me as much as I chose it!
What is your favorite comfort food?
Greek salad for sure! It’s a staple food of my hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure movie or TV series?
I will admit that “17 Again” with Zac Efron is one of my favorite movies, though to most it is likely a cheesy rom-com!
Why are you #cdaproud?
I highly regard the altruism that CDA practices, particularly through CDA Cares. That program not only enables California dental professionals to volunteer their time and services, but it also empowers millions of underserved Californians who are in need of proper dental care. Additionally, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I greatly admire CDA’s efforts to continue graduating dental students by diligently pursuing a manikin-based licensure exam.
Kerry K. Carney, DDS
Journal Editor in Chief