Sarina YaghoobianEver since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to work in health care. I was fascinated with the way a health care professional is able to alleviate someone’s pain while building a new relationship with a patient. I thought I liked the idea of dentistry, but I wanted to be sure it was a good fit for me.

I searched online for nearby dental practices in order to secure a shadowing opportunity. This was far more challenging than I had anticipated. I began by calling local practices, introducing myself and asking for permission to shadow the dentist. Unfortunately, I was denied the opportunity for even a face-to-face meeting. My attempts at follow-ups were ignored. I felt an overwhelming amount of rejection.

Despite this, I knew that if I gave up, it would block my path to dentistry. Instead of giving up, I found it in me to continue searching for a dentist who would have me. So many times I felt frustrated, angered and dispirited. But I never gave up. I continued to make calls, leave messages and be persistent to the point of a healthy obsession. Then it finally happened. After exhaustive efforts, I found a dentist who was open about the idea and invited me over to her practice for an interview. Soon after, I began shadowing.

When I first started shadowing, I felt clueless about the procedures, materials and instruments. I didn’t know that instruments were sanitized every day through sterilization machines. It’s funny to me now, but before I started shadowing, I thought old instruments were simply discarded and new ones were used. After committing a few hours each week in the office, I gained a ton of knowledge. Not only did I learn about the various procedures a general dentist is responsible for, but I also learned about running a business, managing staff, and most significant of all, communicating with patients. I am thankful that I gained this experience because I not only created a strong relationship with a dentist, but also confirmed my intention to pursue a career in dentistry.

- Sarina Yaghoobian, UCLA '18