The Best Bday Present

Wow it’s been exactly a year since I found out about my acceptance into dental school on December 1, 2015! It was probably one of the best birthday presents I could ever ask for. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had applied to 16 schools, received 6 interviews and 5 acceptances (I didn’t attend one of the interviews because the plane ticket was a little pricey and it was a bit lower on my list). My interviews started in September (in order) – University of New England, University of Indiana, University of Detroit Mercy, Tufts, and University of Michigan. I always had my eyes on Michigan for a number of reasons.

The day of I remember waking up at 5AM and immediately checking my email. I found my first acceptance from Indiana University. I was happy to know that at least I would be a dentist somewhere somehow! But of course I was still anxious. I really couldn’t stop myself so the next thing I did was log in to student doctor network (not always the best idea) and prowl around on the forums. I spent probably the next two hours doing this. Finally, 7AM rolled around and people were posting about their calls from UM. 8AM rolls by and I’m starting to just slightly panic. I decided to get off the computer rather than spend the time watching the statuses of other pre-dents. The worst part was that I didn’t know if I would be celebrating today or crying all night. I heard a “ding” from my phone and I was accepted to University of New England. Okay, now I had options. An email from Detroit Mercy. Accepted. 9 o’clock rolls around and suddenly, I heard my phone ring. My heart literally skipped a beat. I looked at the number and it was UM’s number. I answered and heard, “Hi, Liane, this is Brandon from the University of Michigan Dental School…” I gasped and said, “OH MY GOD!” Brandon laughed and congratulated me on my acceptance into the UM Dental School class of 2020. I was ecstatic. I ran into my mum’s room, jumped on her bed, and announced the good news.

It’s so strange to think back on where I was just three years ago. I definitely wasn’t one of those people who was “born” knowing that they wanted to be a dentist! I had actually decided on dental school pretty late in the game. In fact, I never even considered it as a potential career option until the second semester of my senior year of college.

My initial plan was to go to med school like half of all college freshman. It wasn’t until my junior year when reality hit me and I realized that my GPA might not be competitive. It was like being hit with a rock. I explored other options. I’d always loved biology so I looked into the possibility of getting a PhD in evolutionary biology. I even worked in a lab for a while and eventually realized that I really wasn’t too fond of spending my life in a research lab. I finally decided that I would stick to my original plan of applying to med school but take a roundabout way and go for a masters in public health (MPH) in epidemiology first. I went as far as applying, being accepted, and then putting down the $200 deposit to hold my spot in the class.

And then it happened again. Another reconsideration of my potential life career. I met a friend in one of my classes, we’ll call her JY, who was my year and just entering dental school as a D1 that summer after graduation. Throughout the semester we talked about our plans, mine in public health and hers in dentistry. At the time I had never considered dentistry as a potential career option. I’m not exactly sure why but I always felt that my only options with any neuroscience/biology sort of degree was either med school or…if you can’t get in…then research. I talked to JY about her path into dentistry, why she chose it, and I soon realized that her reasons aligned with the same reasons I had actually chosen to pursue a path of medicine in the first place except including the best of both worlds. We get to see patients, provide care, be our own bosses if we choose, while maintaining a family and having a balanced lifestyle. Plus, a residency/specialization was optional after graduating dental school and I wouldn’t have to be attached to a hospital if I didn’t want to. In other words, this sounded like the perfect fit. Long story short, I took the addition dental pre-req classes and scored high enough in each to boost my GPA to be competitive for dental school. It’s amazing how having a goal that I believed I could achieve could boost my motivation and drive.

Now finishing my second semester of dental school and near the end of 2016, I’m still in awe that I’ve been accepted into this profession. Dental school is, of course, far from being easy, in fact it’s much more difficult than undergrad but at this point I’ve learned that I never would have been accepted if the school thought I would fail. Having that in mind helps me remember that my goal IS reachable and that I will continue to try my hardest. It’s amazing to think of how much I’ve grown and how my path has changed from feeling like everything is “up in the air” to feeling grounded and knowing what I’m here for.

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