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Teacher, artist, and problem solver: All in a day's work for the life-changing profession of Pediatric Dentistry

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I remember back to that day.

I was frustrated, anxious, and nervous about my future. What would it hold?

I recall sitting in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore, skimming through various books to help lead me into deciding what I was going to do with my life. I remember taking a "personality test" to predict the best career for me based on my personality.

See, I wanted to be a pediatrician for as long as I could remember. I always knew I would grow up and work with kids in some medical field. I took pre-med courses, the MCATs (testing to get into medical school), and even started the application process for medical schools. However, I was not entirely sure what I was getting myself into.

Dr. Alma Correia
Dr. Alma Correia

During this process of applying to medical schools, I decided I wanted to work in a hospital environment to truly see what life was like as a doctor. I became a "patient care technician" and cared for people in an emergency room.

Up to this point, I had some volunteer experience here and there, but my primary source of knowing what life was like as a doctor came from shows like Grey's Anatomy or ER. It wasn't until I experienced working in the medical environment that I discovered that life as a medical doctor was not for me.

From that moment, I was lost. Unsure what to do next. I played with other ideas for my future career, including becoming a teacher, a school counselor, or a life coach.

"Looking back, I cannot imagine any career better for me! I love what I do! The best part was when I decided to specialize in pediatrics."

--Dr. Alma Correia

Growing up, I was never a fan of going to the dentist, so becoming one never crossed my mind. However, during this time of uncertainty, I visited a friend who was in dental school. She told me many things that dentistry had to offer that had not occurred to me.

As a dentist, I get to be a teacher and an artist. I get to problem solve, plan treatments, and most importantly, I can change people's lives.

Dr. Alma meeting with patients
Dr. Alma meeting with patients

It was then that I thought that dentistry might be something worth pursuing.

I learned from my previous experiences and wanted to place myself in a dental setting before starting the process of applying to dental school. So, I became a dental assistant... once for an oral surgeon and once for an endodontist (someone who specialized in root canal treatment).

Looking back, I cannot imagine any career better for me! I love what I do! I found just the field for me. The best part was when I decided to specialize in pediatrics. 

So, for any students considering their future and what their plans will be, I recommend shadowing, volunteering, or even working in a place that could show you what your future career could entail. I give this advice to high school or college students struggling to decide what to do with their lives. Just know that everyone has their own journey, and not all paths will be the same for everyone.

Stay encouraged!

Dr. Alma Correia is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist at Baptiste Dentistry for Kids in Apopka.

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