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November Student Spotlight

November 04, 2021 1979

Quick Summary:

Get to know CDA’s November 2021 Student Spotlight, Anna Adjei from Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry class of 2022. Anna highlights the importance of building trust with patients to create a safe and memorable clinical experience.

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

Volunteering with the mobile dental clinic community outreach program at USC is my most memorable experience so far. It has been such a humbling and rewarding experience and a stark reminder of my humble beginning as a product of a low-income household.

It is empowering to be on the “other side” and an example for the little girl or boy in the dental chair who has yet to defy generational norms in their community by being the first to obtain a college education, demolish the fear of unchartered territory in the pursuit of setting their family free and setting an example for the many individuals from marginalized groups. This is the start of a domino effect!

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

Being able to witness an increase in patients’ trust, comfort and vulnerability is the most rewarding thing. It’s important to facilitate a successful and memorable clinical experience whereby patients feel comfortable to disclose information that will aid in constructing a treatment plan that addresses their concerns and needs in an efficient way. My main goal for each patient is to ensure they feel heard and properly taken care of. I never want a single patient of mine to feel like a number or mere subject of my work.

What’s one thing about dental school you wish your friends who aren’t in dental school could understand?

I’d like them to understand that although the dental school can be mentally and physically draining, it is such an enjoyable experience. We get to work on cadavers and learn about an array of medical conditions that affect our oral health. The dental school accommodates a variety of interests from art to photography and from engineering to modern technology and much more. Dentists are cooler than you think!

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

I would love to pursue a specialty in orthodontics. Growing up, my family was not able to afford dental care and, as a result, I waited until I matriculated into dental school to get work done. It was not until I became a patient at the Herman Ostrow orthodontic clinic that I gained exposure to the specialty. I would always ask questions about why a certain wire was used or how bends and different appliances result in a desired movement. I would go home after each appointment and watch YouTube videos and read PubMed articles about the topics that were discussed during my appointment.

During preclinical orthodontic rotation, we had the opportunity to trace and analyze our respective lateral cephalometric images and compare them to a set of standard values. This project prompted a series of questions about where these standard values come from and whether they accommodate variations between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. These two experiences are what ignited my passion for ortho. As I continue to explore the field through shadowing opportunities, networking and personal research endeavors, I find it extremely difficult to stay away from the specialty.

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

Absolutely! Dr. Anthony Park brightens up my day. I appreciate that he takes his time to thoroughly teach me about concepts in removable dentistry. He fosters an environment where I feel free to make mistakes and ask questions. In other words, Dr. Park = active learning, and active learning = Dr. Park.

Dr. Park, I simply want to say thank you for making my clinical experience worthwhile. Thank you for being the reason why a tedious day can easily turn into an exciting and mentally stimulating experience.

What is your favorite comfort food?

There’s a traditional dish from Ghana that gets my salivary glands gyrating, and it’s called “omo tuo and nkate nkwan,” which translates to “rice balls and groundnut soup.” It can include your choice of meat (or not) and it’s very flavorful and spicy. My stomach is growling right now ― haha!

What’s your favorite guilty-pleasure movie or TV series?

 “The Blacklist” on Netflix. It’s a binge-worthy crime thriller. 

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

If I didn’t have to sleep, I would devote those eight hours to learning Spanish and Italian, invest time in improving my craft as a vocalist, pick up photography and start training to achieve my desire of becoming a part-time doula.