Sydney Hoffman is a first-year student at the OHSU School of Dentistry. She shares what drew her to dentistry, what has surprised her about the curriculum, and how valuable alumni support has been.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in dentistry?
I grew up in a dental family and spent countless hours at my dad’s practice over the years. I always have, and still do, admire my father and his dedication to his profession. It was only a matter of time before I decided to follow in his footsteps. It was important to me to pursue a career where I am constantly interacting with people and working as a part of a team. It is fulfilling to me to establish relationships with those around me, including my future patients and coworkers. I was attracted to the prospect of being a “lifelong learner” due to the constantly evolving nature of the profession.
What are your aspirations in this field and in working with patients?
In addition to administering quality dental care, I aspire to create a lasting relationship and friendship with my patients. I really want to make my patients feel comfortable and welcome. It is important to me that I get to know each of my patients on an individual level to further exemplify my commitment to them and their health. I never want a patient to feel like it is a chore to come see me.
Why did you choose OHSU for dental school? What does it mean to you to be a part of the OHSU dental community and family?
Attending OHSU was always my dream. I am thrilled to be following in my father’s footsteps. I wanted to attend dental school in the same area where I hope to practice after graduation. Since I plan to stay in Oregon, OHSU will provide me with the opportunity to establish relationships and create a network with local alumni.
Most of the dentists I have shadowed are OHSU alumni and have been incredible mentors to me.
What in your first year of dental school has been surprising or challenging?
I have been surprised by how quickly our pre-clinic education is moving. We’ve learned way more in the past six months than I expected. This term we are even beginning to perform basic periodontal exams on actual patients that visit our clinic. I really didn’t expect to work on a patient until second year so that is really exciting and an invaluable experience.
What does it mean to you to be "practice-ready" by graduation?
To me, practice-ready means I am not only capable and confident in my restorative skills, but I am prepared to face difficult cases that require extensive treatment planning and a strategic approach. Being practice-ready implies that I am capable of developing multiple treatment plans and determining what will most beneficial for my patient based on their specific needs and desires.
How do you see the profession of dentistry changing right now? What role does technology play in those changes?
Dentistry is becoming very digital. Technology is constantly advancing and it is crucial for dental students to be up-to-date on these changes.
Where do you see the future need for dentists? Are there gaps that new dentists, like you, will be addressing?
I think going forward it is critical to continue to promote public health. Education on oral hygiene and intervention programs are essential for improving the oral and systemic health of our community. While treatment will remain a crucial aspect of dentistry, I think the preventative side is going to continue to become increasingly important.
Why is it important for alumni and friends to support the School of Dentistry?
Without the support from our alumni, we would not be able to receive the quality education that we have today. We are so lucky to be educated in a state-of-the-art facility, which would not exist without the generous donations of our alumni. I personally have been inspired by the alumni of this school and their commitment to improving OHSU. My classmates and I acknowledge that our alumni are a huge driving force for change and improvement within the university and we are so grateful to the continued support.
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