Kelly Suralik

First Impression - Predoctoral

Hometown: Kohler, WI

Chapter: Harvard

Graduation Year: 2020

Kelly Suralik

Who inspired you to become a dentist?

I’ve logged many hours as a dental patient with failed procedures and the subsequent treatment. I am thankful to my dental care team who gave me my smile back, and I strive to give a smile and self-confidence to another person. I also appreciate the precision and attention to detail required in the craft.

Before starting dental school, I wish I had known…

Dental school is truly a marathon. I’m learning to take it day-by-day and enjoy the little pleasures because that attitude will make the career fulfilling for a lifetime.

What is your favorite thing about your current year in dental school?

Using visuospatial reasoning is something I enjoy, so the hands-on learning experiences such as wax-ups and assisting in specialty clinic have been great. I become completely involved with the task for hours and gain a sense of accomplishment afterward.

What is your least favorite thing?

Burning my hand on wax-up instruments! Hot and cold metal look the same.

What has been your toughest lesson learned in dental school so far?

The terms “always” or “never” do not apply to dentistry. Anatomic variation exists, and each patient’s treatment plan should be formulated on a case-by-case basis.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?

Japan. The summer before my senior year, I spent 12 weeks in Tsukuba, Japan, doing materials research at the National Institute for Materials Science. Not only was the research intellectually challenging, but I also explored the culture and traveled around the country. My lab mates and I would talk about the differences between cultures each day over lunch. On the weekends, I traveled by bullet train to Tokyo, Osaka, Nikko, Kyoto and Hiroshima; climbed Mount Fuji; and attended a Sumo wrestling tournament. I enjoyed immersing myself in another culture and living and working amongst the people.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Prior to dental school, I was enrolled in graduate school for materials chemistry with plans of completing a Ph.D. I anticipated working in R&D for a dental materials company, yet I could never shake the desire to become a dentist and engage patients. My decision to leave after completing a Master’s degree was difficult. I was leaving a solid position with great people and research to start a new career, but I have never doubted the wisdom of that decision. The privilege to interact with and provide care to patients brings me joy.