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May Student Spotlight

May 20, 2020 7577
CDA Student Spotlight

Get to know CDA’s May Student Spotlight, Michael Nedjat-Haiem from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry class of 2020.

Get to know CDA’s May Student Spotlight, Michael Nedjat-Haiem from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry class of 2020. 

What has it been like to be a dental student watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold?

As a dental student, I have been closely watching and monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic situation as well as its implications on the field of dentistry. For example, I have been reading different articles provided by CDA and the California Department of Public Health, which provide guidance about how dental professionals can follow suggested health precautions and instructions in order to create a safer environment for their staff as well as their patients.

What have the last few months of this school year looked like given the stay-at-home order?

Of course, dental school is quite different under the stay-at-home order due to clinic closures. However, our dedicated faculty at UCLA has been working diligently day and night to provide us with the best possible education given the current circumstances. We have online lectures, extra resources and other wonderful learning opportunities to enhance our education even during this time of uncertainty.

Have your career aspirations changed due to COVID?

COVID-19 has undoubtedly made me miss practicing dentistry and seeing patients. Nevertheless, I am now looking forward to continuing my dental education and treating patients again.

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

As class president, I have had the pleasure of creating strong bonds and friendships with all of my fellow classmates. Among the many wonderful memories, a favorite was being selected as a USA dental ambassador, where I had the opportunity to visit Japan and South Korea with a few of my classmates as part of an educational and enjoyable program. Being able to share knowledge and learn from other dental students as well as esteemed faculty in these countries was definitely a life-changing experience.

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

As I entered dental school, I wanted to make sure to have a broad mind and explore the different options within the field of dentistry. But as I started shadowing the orthodontic residents in clinic, taking more orthodontics classes and taking part in orthodontic research, I knew at that point that orthodontics was for me. I enjoyed every aspect of orthodontics, everything from diagnosing and treatment planning to the biomechanics process to the hands-on wire bending. Orthodontics can be compared to solving a puzzle and I like the idea of taking a case and working through a series of phases to provide the patient with the best function and esthetics in order to produce an overall healthy, natural and beautiful smile.

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

A dental school professor who has had an immense positive impact on me is Dr. Audrey Yoon, a dual-trained orthodontist and pediatric dentist. Dr. Yoon has been my principal investigator for craniofacial research during the last couple of years and has also been a vital mentor for me ever since I started to pursue my passion for orthodontics. She is a kind, knowledgeable and caring person who always wants others to succeed and learn. I am humbled to be in the position I am today and my message to Dr. Yoon is: “Thank you so much for your mentorship and guidance throughout the past few years! You have definitely contributed to my dental school experience and have made it an exceptional one! I really appreciate it!”

What has been the most surprising thing about dental school?

Before dental school, people would always tell me how difficult dental school is and how one would spend more time with classmates than non-dental friends or family. However, even though dental school has its challenges, we as a class are always in it together as one. We spend so much time together and have truly become a family of our own. We are always supportive of one another during the high points as well as the obstacles that we face throughout dental school. I am appreciative of all the dental students as well as faculty at UCLA because I would not be where I am today without them!

Why are you #cdaproud?

I am #cdaproud because CDA is a strong, united family that supports dentists, students and patients. I have had the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many different practicing dentists and students across California. In addition, the resources and educational opportunities provided have helped enhance my knowledge throughout the last few years. I feel honored to have the privilege to be part of such an outstanding organization. I am looking forward to being active and highly involved with CDA throughout my professional career.