THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Feature: Ami Pandya

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

ami-headshot.jpgAmi Pandya is finishing her fourth year at Indiana University School of Dentistry. If you’re on your way to completing dental school as well, you should read Ami’s blog titled Tips for Finding a Job After Dental School. In the interview below, Ami discusses what drew her to dentistry as well as the challenges she faced in dental school. She also speaks about her plans after graduation and her experience as a Student Ambassador for THE NEXTDDS.

THE NEXTDDS: Why did you choose to pursue dentistry as a career path?

AP: I told my parents I wanted to go to the dentist because I wanted braces at a really young age, and that stimulated my love for dentistry. I really wanted a career that would integrate helping people and art. Dentistry allows me to provide valuable healthcare to those in need and also hone my artistic ability at work every day.

THE NEXTDDS:  What aspect of dental school is the most challenging?

AP: Time management. Especially in the first two years, there is a lot didactic and lab work that needs to be done. A lot of students want to be involved in different activities such as ASDA and others. It really is a time management thing for a lot of us.

THE NEXTDDS:  Do you think “digital” is important to your exchange and relationships with your peers?

AP: Yes, it’s very important. Most of my colleagues and I at dental school are on social media quite often. We use our class Facebook page pretty religiously to communicate and stay in touch with our peers.

THE NEXTDDS:   What clinical topics do you find most intriguing?

AP: I really like technology. I like to see different innovations that are occurring in dentistry. It’s really nice, especially THE NEXTDDS--the website has great webinars, articles, and resources that discuss different things regarding technology, as well as operative dentistry and endodontics.

THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics would be most beneficial to illustrate in online articles/images/videos?

AP: I think operative dentistry and other topics--like extractions perhaps? --that have an element of technique sensitivity should be illustrated with videos. You can follow certain dental groups on Instagram that showcase instructional videos regarding root canals and things of that nature. These videos are beneficial to clinicians as well as patients.

THE NEXTDDS:  Were you nervous or excited when working on your first patient?

AP: I was really excited because I was finally working on a patient. I was nervous but the Indiana University School of Dentistry had prepared me really well for these types of situations. I had really good preparation but there was some nervousness there as well.

THE NEXTDDS: How has your experience as a Student Ambassador for THE NEXTDDS helped you network with your peers?

AP: I had the opportunity to get to know other students that are involved with ASDA like me. We conduct conference calls with my fellow ambassadors and discuss what the other students are doing. It’s nice to talk about different ideas with my peers.

THE NEXTDDS: Besides student loans, what is a chief concern for you regarding dental school?

AP: Practice management is my biggest concern. There are aspects of this that we haven’t really learned in dental school. Understanding dentistry as well as a healthcare provider and a business owner are both important.

THE NEXTDDS: What do you envision your next five years of dentistry to look like?

AP: I’m really looking to take a ton of CE courses and mentorship programs. I’m focusing on my skill set and seeing where that takes me.

THE NEXTDDS: What did you enjoy most about being a dental student, or dental school in general?

AP: I really like the community of dentistry. When I think about my colleagues, my classmates, the people that I met through ASDA and THE NEXTDDS, these are relationships that will foster a life-long connection in learning. It’s really nice to know that I’ll have 100 peers from my class that I can call for advice professionally or simply to reconnect on a personal level.

It’s a great network that I’ve been able to build over the last four years. I’m really grateful for the mentors that I have, the faculty I’ve interacted with, and my classmates as well.


All of us at THE NEXTDDS would like to extend our gratitude to Ami Pandya. For the 2014-2016 academic years, she has been a great THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador at Indiana University School of Dentistry. Congratulations! We wish you all the best in your dental career!

Want to be a Student Ambassador at your dental school? Submit your Application!

Tags: Student Ambassadors, Regional Delegate, Indiana University School of Dentistry

THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Feature: Queenate Ibeto

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 @ 04:54 PM

Advisory_Board-Queenate_Ibeto.jpgQueenate Ibeto is completing her final semester as a dental student at Howard University College of Dentistry and serves as a Regional Delegate for THE NEXTDDS. Her latest blog post, The Plight of The Fourth-Year Dental Student, is featured on THE NEXTDDS blogs. In the following, Queenate shares her experiences in a third world country, which led her to dentistry, and relates some of the challenges she faces as a leader in her dental school. She also discusses her plans after graduation and what she enjoys most about dental school.

THE NEXTDDS: Why did you choose dentistry as a career path? What about the profession is appealing to you?

QI: I became interested in dentistry years ago during a visit to a third-world country where I first saw (what I now know is) rampant caries, numerous missing teeth, etc. I was stunned! I asked my mom about why; she told me that it was a matter of dental education and that in some places the people do not have access to dentists or have no knowledge that dentists even exist! At that point my interest in dentistry was sparked and I knew that it was a field that I was passionate about pursuing.

THE NEXTDDS: Is it generational?

QI: No. I am the first in my family to become a dentist. However, my sister is now a rising D2 student at Howard University College of Dentistry!

THE NEXTDDS: Were you excited / nervous when you first worked on a patient?

QI: When I started seeing patients in clinic, I was not really nervous to execute the initial comprehensive evaluation. After the patient had been comprehensively treatment planned, however, executing some procedures is what brought mild anxiety, particularly for molar root canals.

THE NEXTDDS: What aspect of dental school do you find to be the most challenging?

QI: Your life is pretty much dedicated to dental school for the four years that you are in school. It can also be financially straining because everything in dentistry costs.

As a student leader I am constantly called upon to manage several things going on with the student body. I am also involved with organizations outside of the dental school; THE NEXTDDS is just one example of that! The most challenging thing about dental school has been staying organized and trying not to get overwhelmed by the plethora of things that we have to manage in one day. Dentistry is not as simple as drilling and filling. It requires that we utilize our entire medical knowledge base to diagnose, treatment plan, and decide the best techniques to manage the problems that we identify. Delivering the news to the patient can also be a challenge too, because some dental procedures can be costly.

THE NEXTDDS: What roles do social media and educational sites such as THE NEXTDDS play in your dental education? How frequently do you access them for school-related activities?

QI: My dental education has been vast and I have enjoyed utilizing multiple educational sources to get a full grasp of dental concepts. Websites like THE NEXTDDS are important because they serve as platforms where mass dental topics are highlighted and discussed. THE NEXTDDS has the potential to be the “go-to” website for dental students whenever they need expanded learning opportunities.

THE NEXTDDS: What do you envision your next five years of dentistry to look like?

QI: I am very excited about entering the dental profession. Next year I see myself attending my General Practice Residency program in Charlotte, NC. Upon completion of that program I would like to find an associateship in Charlotte and work as a general dentist for one or two years and then begin the process of practice ownership.

THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics do you find most intriguing?

QI: The current clinical topics that I find interesting involve endodontic technology and full-mouth rehabilitation cases.  Endodontics is amazing to me because they are constantly evaluating the science behind root canal therapy and the findings are great to see, enabling me to mitigate concerns that some patient may have about RCT. Full-mouth rehabilitation cases are all-encompassing restorative dentistry cases that I enjoy because of the “before and after” effects. It is a huge blessing to be able to give a person a smile that they can be proud of!

THE NEXTDDS: How has your experience as a Student Ambassador for THE NEXTDDS helped you in networking with your peers?

QI: My student ambassador experience has been an excellent tool in allowing me to network with student leaders at other U.S. dental schools. We discuss similar issues that we have encountered while in dental school and formulate possible solutions to managing those issues. Most importantly, the sharing of ideas is what I think is amazing. 

THE NEXTDDS: What do you enjoy most about being a dental student, or dental school in general?

QI: I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know dental students who have graduated and become dentists as well as my classmates and future colleagues. It is such an honor to be among such a group of talented and amazing people! I also have enjoyed my patients and educating them on oral healthcare. Seeing my patients grow in their dental knowledge and completing their cases has truly been fulfilling. I will surely miss those aspects of dental school.


THE NEXTDDS would also like to thank Queenate Ibeto for her outstanding support as a Student Ambassador at Howard University College of Dentistry for the 2014-2015 academic year and both a Student Ambassador and Regional Delegate for 2015-2016. Congratulations, and we hope all the best for you in your future endeavors!


Want to be a Student Ambassador at your dental school? Submit your Application!


Tags: Student Ambassadors, Regional Delegate, Howard University College of Dentistry

Exploring Pathways into the Dental Profession at Chicagoland Speedway

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

Left to Right: Alex Mitchell (Temple), Tabitha Dunham (Oklahoma), John Murphy (Aspen Dental), Kyle Coghlan (Tennessee), Aaron Henderson (Minnesota), and Ami Pandya (Indiana, THE NEXTDDS Regional Delegate)

Ten short days ago, an exclusive group of associate dentists, dental students, and practice owners gathered in Chicago, IL, for a weekend of fellowship, recreation, and enlightening discussion among peers. Ami Pandya, DDS candidate at Indiana University School of Dentistry, 2016, and Regional Delegate for THE NEXTDDS, was one of just five dental students in attendance. Ami had a great opportunity to connect with fellow student leaders from Temple University, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Minnesota, to network with several recent graduates now working in DSO-supported practices—and to meet NASCAR driver Danica Patrick.

Patrick and her #10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS have been supporting an initiative termed the Healthy Mouth Movement, where dentists in the Aspen Dental network are delivering free care to many veterans who have served our nation. To date these dentists, through the Healthy Mouth Movement, have donated over $3 million in dentistry!

Attendees of the Aspen Dental VIBE Session had a chance to mingle with Patrick after a day spent in discussion of the way that dental service organizations enable new graduates to enter the profession. Here is a brief Q&A session THE NEXTDDS recently completed with Ami regarding the event:

Q. What is next for your dental career after graduation?
I have all my options open and am looking for the best opportunity. While I’m planning on practicing in the Chicago area after graduation, I plan on relocating to the south after a short time—Georgia’s home for me. Right now I’m considering both private practice and DSO (dental service organization) practice options.

Q. What’s the most important consideration for your next step?
I’ll need to be working, and I know it’ll be important to improve my skill set. I would like to continue learning about the business of dentistry and will hopefully have a practice of my own one day.

Left to Right:  Tabitha Dunham (Oklahoma), Aaron Henderson (Minnesota), Kyle Coghlan (Tennessee), Danica Patrick, Bob Fontana (Aspen Dental), Ami Pandya, and Alex Mitchell (Temple)

Q. That’s great! How did you become involved with this Chicago event?
I’ve been very involved in student affairs throughout my time at Indiana, serving most recently as President of our American Student Dental Association chapter at IU. Because I’ve been involved in ASDA since practically day one, I’ve had a chance to take on a leadership role with my colleagues and also to build relationships with many of the different companies and service organizations that conduct activities at the school. Aspen Dental is one of these organizations and their representative contacted me about the VIBE Session. I felt quite fortunate to be asked; it sounded like a great opportunity and I had a great time in Chicago—even met Danica Patrick—learning about Aspen as an organization and the DSO practice model.

Q. It sounds like the DSO practice model could be a good opportunity to achieve your long-term goals—is this a common view among your classmates?
I’m glad you touched on this; we as ASDA students had essentially the same conversation in Chicago. A lot of younger dentists that I talk to, who are now in private practice, have used their experiences in a DSO practice as a stepping stone to further their careers and are very grateful for those opportunities. My colleagues and I are open to the concept. We see it more as an opportunity to get better and be better as dentists—and one day have our own practices.

Q. Some of the operational efficiencies you see in a DSO-supported practice make sense based on sheer volume. But their ability to impact patient access to care is important too. Did you cover that in Chicago in this discussion?
Yes, and it’s something I didn’t fully understand before. I didn’t realize that Aspen, for example, works in areas where there aren’t many dentists, helping create access for those in need. It was nice to understand their mission, their purpose, and the objectives of their practice model. That brought about some helpful clarification that we don’t often get at school, where our exposure in a lunch-and-learn, for example, is just 45 minutes. Here, we had a chance to talk candidly to dentists practicing in this type of setting. It was nice to get clarity. As students we want the truth, the clarity—and it was great to get that here.

aspen-dental-danica-patrickQ. The open dialogue sounded very valuable. Were any IU students part of the panel of practicing dentists?
Yes. One recent IU grad was there; he had recently become the lead dentist in his Tennessee-based Aspen Dental practice. We have a lot of students that go that route. It’s happening—it’s a good salary, a good opportunity to focus on your skill development, and Aspen has a mentorship program to help there. This model can be very appealing to students like me who have a lot of school loan debt to handle before opening our own practices. Our decisions are a little different from dentists graduating a few decades ago because of this substantial loan debt.

Q. What’s the most important take-away you had from this weekend that you’d want to convey to the 14,000+ dental students of THE NEXTDDS user community? What was most meaningful for you?
Since I don’t know what’s next for me, I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind, listen, and explore every opportunity that you have. Dentistry as we know it is changing, and if you close your mind off to any option you could miss a really valuable opportunity. I think it’s best to educate yourself, and make decisions based on what’s best for you as an individual. That’s probably my biggest take-back. I learned so much just from going to the meeting and keeping an open mind and taking it all in rather than coming with any preconceived ideas. I was appreciative of the invitation.

Thanks so much to you, Ami. We appreciate you taking moments between patient responsibilities today to share this discussion with us!

Join 14,000+ Students! Enroll in THE NEXTDDS now

Tags: Student Ambassadors, Regional Delegate, Interview

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