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The responsibility of communicating with dental patients can be very humbling As a volunteer at the New River Valley Free Clinics Dental Program I speak with people who often have no health insurance and insufficient income to pay for dental services Many prospective patients are anxious and in pain My job is to gather their personal information get a description of their problem and schedule them for an appointment One aspect of my position I find particularly challenging and enjoyable is the adjustments in communication I must make to effectively interact with people of varying personalities and educational backgrounds Whether they are rude and impatient or lighthearted and optimistic I constantly strive to offer reassurance understanding and a solution to their particular dental problem On the whole patients sincerely appreciate the care they receive from the Dental Program The role I play in the relief of patients or retaining their self-confidence is not only humbling but it also confirms my desire to become a dentist Participation in medical research was a pivotal point in my career interests While attending the University of Virginia I assisted Dr Constanze Rayhrer in Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome ARDS research in the summer of 1995 The goal of the project was to assess pre-injury treatment with nitric oxide of an oleic acid induced acute lung injury using rabbit heart-lung models Nitric Oxide Potentiates Acute Lung Injury Critical Care Medicine January 1997 25 A39 I was able to help Dr Rayhrer in animal sedation surgery blood gas analysis and data gathering The hands-on nature of the surgeries coupled with the scientific knowledge required to perform them sparked my curiosity Working towards a degree in archaeology I quickly arranged an independent study course the following fall to further explore medical science by researching the pathology of human remains I soon learned archaeological pathology often deduces the nature of deformity disease and death from dental
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