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US Air Force Dentistry Application, Iraqi Dentist

September 16, 2017

Why did you choose this specialty/profession?

I finished dental school in Baghdad in June of 2005. Sometimes it amazes me when I look back on it, that I was able to do so. Some of my friends and fellow students disappeared and were never heard from again, especially during my last year of dental school. In addition, we had extremely outdated equipment and facilities that should have been updated in the 1990s and were not, as a result of economic sanctions and widespread corruption. Everything was difficult to get, even anesthesia. In my final year of dental school, I became an employee of the US Army in Baghdad providing dental care to both soldiers and detainees. The very fact that detainees and soldiers received the same dental care, won me over to the cause. Before the US came to Iraq, more teeth were extracted by the government of Saddam Hussein as a result of torture than dental care. Providing this kind of top quality dental care to Iraqi detainees represented a new world for us Iraqis who provided the care. I was utterly amazed at first by the sheer state-of-the-art of US military dentistry. Despite the fact that being employed by the US military meant that I was a hair away from death on a daily basis, I could not wait to get to work each day to get my hands on that equipment again I found it so exhilarating to practice my craft in a high tech facility. I made up my mind at that time that if I could migrate to the USA, I would it so as to be able to receive advanced dental training. In addition to the advanced facilities, the level of patience and compassion from the US military in general and from the medical/dental personnel toward detainees in particular was astonishing. I personally witnessed military doctors exerting themselves with heroic measures to save the lives of people injured in battle against the US military. This was a real eye opener for someone accustomed to living under Hussein. I even witnessed detainees getting transported by helicopter for emergency surgery.

What do you believe are your most significant accomplishments?

I was a natural for embracing the United States military when they entered my city of origin, Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003. Most importantly, I was already fluent in English, since I had attended the #1 high school in Iraq that was established by American Jesuits in the 1930s. Baghdad College had American teachers for decades until they were forced to leave Iraq by Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1970s. The curriculum continued to be in English, however. As a student at Baghdad’s best if not only fully English High School, I was inclined towards rebellion against Saddam Hussein well before the Americans arrived. I looked to the West with hope, and the West came to my rescue.

4. Describe any community service activities, including positions held and responsibilities.

Volunteer service and the underserved stand at the center of my heart and I spent a lot of time with our mobile clinic at XXXX, the “smiles bus,” providing children in underserved communities with dental care. Someday, perhaps a decade or two down the road, I want to return to Iraq to teach; and set up “smile buses” for the poorest sectors of our society, especially children.

5. List any research, publications or teaching experiences you have accomplished.

For my last 4 months at XXXX I had the great privilege of working as a clinical instructor assistant. I also worked a part-time instructor for one year in another dental program, in addition to practicing. My relationship with the military was not limited to dentistry, doctors, dentists, and other health care workers in the military have been my principal mentors and teachers, some even helping me to prepare for examinations. One dear friend of mine, a dentist and a colonel who I worked with and assisted, even attended my graduation from XXXX; driving 9 hours to get there. Colonel XXXX was also the one who helped me come to America.

7. What are your long term goals?

I am applying to the United States Air Force for advanced training and service in Prosthodontics because I want very much to care for the oral health needs of service members and/or their families, as a result of my profound admiration for the US military, especially the Air Force. In fact, many of my colleagues over the course of the last few years have been Navy and US Army dentists and even they say that both training and facilities are the best in the Air Force. One of my clinical group leaders raved about your residency program in Prosthodontics in particular.

8. What do you find appealing about Air Force Health Professions?

My extensive experience with the US military has helped me to become proficient at following instructions along with receiving and implementing criticism. I see this as especially true with respect to literature and always staying abreast of the literature and developments in our field. Wholeheartedly dedicated to lifelong learning, I very much enjoy staying on top of research and innovation in dentistry, completing close to 300 hours in CE courses. I admire very much the emphasis of the Air Force on the importance of continuous training and education. For me, The Air Force provides both the joy and satisfaction of the dental field combined with the long-term career and leadership advantages that cannot be found in other environments, facilitating my advancement as a leader.

9. Why should you be selected? -- What do you have to offer the Air Force?

My dream came true and I have now lived in America for 8 years, earning the DMD Degree at XXXX in May of 2013. My clinical group leader in Prosthodontics was especially outstanding and under his guidance I became increasingly comfortable treating patients in this area. Dr. Blitzer has spent many years lecturing and giving presentations to prosthodontics residents all over the US. He told me that out of all the places he lectured or gave presentations, the Air Force residents were the most knowledgeable, reflecting the superlative nature of their training. I am a hard worker well read in my field. I am an accomplished dentist who wants to give my all to the Air Force, especially in Prosthodontics.

I thank you for considering my application.

 

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