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CDA members and California’s dental community turn to our association for timely, trusted information about current and developing issues in dentistry. The Update provides resources and guidance on topics affecting dentists, their patients and their profession, including dental benefit plans, regulatory compliance, legislation and advocacy, patient safety and practice management.
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Describe your experience as a dental student during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dental school at home is very challenging and takes a lot of adjustment. The majority of our curriculum has shifted to online learning and our didactic courses are being taught through live online lectures. When COVID-19 first happened, we were learning material ahead of time so that when we got back to school, we could focus on our hand skills. Also, we were shipped our endodontic instruments and were virtually taught how to perform a root canal on our typodont teeth.
Now, half of our class is able to go into sim lab at a time, so we can practice our hand skills with proper safety precautions, such as PPE, social distancing, temperature checks, etc. The hardest part about being in online dental school is finding a focused space and routine at home. Your home is supposed to be a place where you can relax and sometimes it’s hard to find that when you do school at home. Despite this, I feel very lucky to go to Western University because the faculty and staff are constantly finding innovative ways to deliver online learning throughout the pandemic.
Have your career aspirations changed due to COVID-19?
If anything, COVID has reinforced my passion for dentistry and public health. Before coming to dental school, I received my master’s in public health and my practicum focused on integrating oral health care and primary care. This situation really highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration of health care workers to ensure the health and safety of the public.
What’s one thing about dental school you wish your friends who aren’t in dental school could understand?
The incredible support system that you find in dental school. Going into dental school, I did not expect to make so many meaningful relationships with my classmates. The environment we have at Western University is very collaborative and supportive which cultivates a strong sense of solidarity and family throughout our program.
The people I have met in dental school are some of the most encouraging, driven and genuine people I know. Although dental school can be really stressful and demanding, we constantly remind each other to find a good balance of work, play and self-care. My dental school family keeps me sane and I couldn’t imagine going through this journey without them.
What made you interested in dentistry?
I’ve always been interested in dentistry from a young age, but what solidified my path was actually volunteering at a CDA Cares event in undergrad. I met a woman at the end of her visit that left an abusive relationship with someone who destroyed most of her teeth. She was embarrassed to smile until she received dentures from CDA Cares. She was so happy to go home to show her kids her new smile. This really resonated with me and I realized serving others through dentistry was bigger than oral health. In the future, I hope to address oral health disparities in underserved populations by bridging clinical dentistry and community health.
What is your favorite comfort food?
I have so many but some of my favorite dishes are Japanese curry, Pad Thai, sushi and pupusas. After a long week of exams, I also love to treat myself with a bag of Hot Cheetos and a boba drink!
What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure movie or TV series?
Game of Thrones was one of my favorite tv shows up until the last season. Recently, I finished Peaky Blinders on Netflix which was a great series and I can’t wait for the new season! I also love watching cooking shows and basketball games when I have down time.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would probably spend that time learning a new language and cooking. I would want to try out new recipes and possibly create a side food business to help me pay off my dental school loans.
Why are you #cdaproud?
I am #cdaproud because throughout my dental journey, I have seen how much impact this organization has. From making a difference with underserved communities, advocating for oral health care, and empowering California’s dental providers, including pre-dentals and dental students! CDA supports and serves their community every step of the way. I feel very lucky to be a part of this incredible organization!
Kerry K. Carney, DDS
Journal Editor in Chief