Towards the end of last semester, I had to stop and reevaluate my future career. Though I decided I wanted to be a dentist when I was in sixth grade, I realized only last year that I did not know if I had just convinced myself that I wanted to pursue dentistry or if I was truly passionate about it.
This reevaluation was terrifying. I had spent my entire educational career since the sixth grade preparing for dental school. When I came into college, I thought I had my entire life together, but suddenly within the first semester, I was more lost than ever before. It felt like all of those years of planning and knowing what I wanted to do only led me back to square one.
However, when I look back, I am so grateful for this bump in the road. I was reminded that I have to be open to all possibilities. When I am solely concentrated on one thing, I am blind to everything else. Ignoring all of my other options puts me in danger of not being able to see and miss my true passion. Therefore, while I am still continuing on the pre-dental path, I need to prepare myself to change my career at any second if something else better comes along. With that in mind, I really tried to step out of my comfort zone in my observations as much as possible to explore what the health field has to offer.
Though I learned a lot from my observations, I still have not found anything I love more than dentistry. As I continue to challenge my interest every day, my reevaluation has left me feeling more solidified in my decision to be a dentist in the future than ever before. Being vulnerable to change and uncertainty has been one of the most difficult challenges of this year, but I can proudly say that the growth from this experience has made me into a stronger person.
I believe that health care professionals should not be able to refuse treatment.
My opinion is based on the mindset that first and foremost health care professionals have the patient’s best interest in mind at all times. I believe that the role of health care professionals is to provide care to help the patient have the best quality of life. In this role, they are also responsible for clearly communicating both sides of the situation, being careful not to mix personal values into the information given. The patient has to fully understand the magnitude and the severity of what they are about to go into. Ultimately, it is and should be the patient who makes the decision whenever possible.
On the other hand, there are certainly exceptions. For example, if the patient is not capable of making a sound decision or the procedure will greatly impact their quality of life and harm them, the health care professionals should have the right to require patients to go in for counseling about their decision and hold off on treatment. There are fine lines to this as well, but in the end, health care professionals are there to help patients have the best quality of life possible. The patients should have the right to decide what they want done after being properly educated about their situation and how it can affect their lives.
These past months have flown by so quickly and much has changed. In this short time, I feel like I have already come a long way. I am most proud of being okay with not having everything together. I am a planner, so before I came to college I thought I had my life together complete with a list of all the things I wanted to do. As I reflect on how I have changed, many of my plans have either been scratched or changed from definite to indefinite. When the cascade of ruined plans started, I was filled with anxiety and stress. However, time has taught me that things work out in the end, and having indefinite plans exposed me to things I could have never imaged because I became more open. Professionally, I have grown both closer and farther from dentistry. Joining dental club and observing dental students has encouraged me to continue pursuing dentistry. On the other hand, recognizing how much is still out there has helped me stop and smell the roses a little longer as I have changed my pace from blindly sprinting to delightfully jogging towards dentistry.
Seeing how much I have grown in the last few months makes me even more excited to continue to improve next semester. I hope next semester I will be able to be more active in the clubs and organizations I am in, find more time to shadow dental students, and explore more careers.
What surprised me most about Joyce’s presentation was when the panel advised us to do what we are passionate about and asked us about our motivations for doing what we are doing. This struck me because I had to ask myself something very important: have I just convinced myself that I want to be a dentist or do I want to be a dentist because I genuinely love the career? I would be lying if I said that this thought has never occurred to me, but it was only during the panel when I actually seriously thought about this question.
After some pondering, these are my conclusions: first, everything I do and want to do is based on the foundation of the love of helping people. Second, I want to be able to help people through healthcare in a way that allows me to have a one-on-one relationship with them. I realized that the reason I chose dentistry was because it conveniently satisfied all the conditions. Of course, I am still interested in it, and I enjoyed my observation with the dental students, but that is only a snippet of my journey to dentistry. Therefore, I have to keep moving forward with dentistry to see if it is truly my passion, which I must admit is frightening.
In the end, this reevaluation is good for me. Now that I am fully aware that dentistry may or may not be the final destination, I can plan ahead and be prepared. I need to be open, open to explore different classes UM has to offer. I plan to dabble in classes that I am less knowledgeable about such as public health, women’s studies, and social change. Maybe these classes will lead me to discover what I am really passionate about, or maybe these classes will lead me to pursue dentistry even harder.
Let me leave you with this question: have you done your own reevaluation of your future?