Shadowing a Pediatric Dentist
Kristin Goodwin, honors biochemistry major and pre-dental student:
“Shadowing in the office of a pediatric dentist has been an amazing opportunity. I am confident the dental field is God’s calling for my life, but I am still exploring the branches within this field. Before my shadowing experience, I was aware of pediatric dentistry, but did not fully understand the specialization. The dentist I shadowed was a wonderful mentor, taking every opportunity to point out examples of unique dental circumstances when patients arrived for their appointments.
“Pediatric dentistry works with children from infancy to age eighteen. This specialization requires two additional years of dental school, focusing on child psychology to prepare the pediatric dentist to respond to the emotions a child may be experiencing in the dentist’s office. Depending on a child’s medical history, he or she may adapt well to the dental equipment, or may scream in anticipation of pain. During shadowing I witnessed two cases of shrieks and streams of tears in reaction to the unfamiliar experience.
“One of my favorite shadowing moments was attending a mobile dental clinic with the dentist. He and a colleague work with a local ministry once a month to provide free dental work for underprivileged families. Fifteen appointment slots are reserved, and the dentists work until every patient has been treated. Without advanced technology available, the dentists work with the bare necessities and rely on their basic dental knowledge to guide them through tooth extractions. I was enthralled by this opportunity, and kept moving closer to observe every aspect. The most gratifying part was hearing the patients’ words of thanks. The act of giving back to the community furthered my desire to participate in medical missions.”