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April Student Spotlight

April 02, 2021 2417

Quick Summary:

Get to know CDA’s April Student Spotlight, Viviana Han from Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, class of 2021.

What has dental school been like during the COVID-19 pandemic?

I feel completely safe to be on campus and in clinic, and I am extremely grateful for our school’s efforts to provide a safe environment for us to continue our education. Our school’s clinic is currently running at 50% capacity. Patients are called two days before their appointments to be asked a series of prescreening questions. Once on site, patients are asked the same questions again and their temperatures are taken. We also call our patients two days after their appointments to make sure they are doing well and not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Students, faculty and staff have a separate entrance to the school where we are also prescreened. The school has provided us with multiple fitted N95 masks, face shields and all the appropriate PPE needed. Students, faculty and staff get tested for COVID-19 every week, and if we are not compliant then we are not allowed to be on campus. Patients get tested as well before an aerosol-producing procedure. 

Have your career aspirations changed due to the pandemic?

No, the pandemic has not changed my career aspirations. I am determined more than ever to become an impactful health care professional during the good times and the difficult times.

What has been your favorite dental school moment or experience so far?

My favorite dental school moment happened during mobile clinic right after our school reopened. I was about to start treatment on the sweetest 9-year-old with the most generous heart. When I asked him if he was OK, he replied, "I'm good! Are you doing OK?" As simple as that question was, this moment warmed my heart. He reminded me that we should check up on each other more, especially right now when the world is suffering so much. After that appointment, I texted my family in Argentina to see if they were doing OK too.

Have you discovered a dental specialty you would like to pursue? If so, which specialty and what helped you realize this passion?

While attending dental school in Argentina, I developed an interest in endodontics. I was fascinated to see successful outcomes despite a tooth's hopeless prognosis and the human body's limit to repair it. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when my patients are pain-free and I can tell them that their tooth can be given a second chance.. My desire to pursue this specialty grew when I joined the ASPID program at USC, where the endodontic faculty has shown me that there is so much more to learn. This is the specialty that always keeps me on my toes and inspires me to constantly improve. I am honored and humbled to be accepted to the USC endodontic program and excited to start in the summer of 2021.

What has been the most rewarding thing about working on patients?

The most rewarding aspect of working on patients, especially in the Los Angeles area, is to serve those who are underserved. Due to USC's location, we are accessible to diverse patients, and thanks to USC's Mobile Clinic, we can also bring free dental care to the rest of southern California. For some of our patients, we are the first dental professionals they have ever encountered. I enjoy being in an environment where we can have so much fun getting to know our patients and where we can learn about dentistry.

Has a current dental school professor made a positive impact on you? What would you like to say to them?

Yes, Dr. Boris Keselbrener. I will never be able to thank him enough for all his guidance and support throughout the years. During this pandemic, dental school has been stressful, but Dr. Keselbrener can be seen in clinic with a big smile. I think Dr. Keselbrener has superhuman powers because although he is in the clinic for long hours, he is always there to help students and tells us jokes to lighten the mood. Who needs the gym when you can spend a few minutes with him and feel like you did 200 situps from laughing so much?

How has your life changed in the past year?

This past year was a rollercoaster of joy and sorrow. I married my best friend and got accepted to USC's endodontic program, but I also lost my grandmother and have not been able to visit my family in Argentina. During this time of ups and downs, my love for dentistry grew immensely. When our clinic reopened, I was excited to see my patients again but was also devastated to see the damage the pandemic had caused to their oral health. This past year proved how essential we are as health care professionals and this has pushed me to become a better professional overall.

Why are you #cdaproud?

I am CDA proud because for 150 years this organization has empowered dentists all over California and has been standing strong next to each and all of us during this pandemic. Thank you, CDA, for keeping us informed and for all the hard work you have done throughout one of the toughest periods in our profession.