There were 93 dental students celebrating a milestone in their education when they transition from learning about being an oral health care giver, to becoming one.
The ceremony was led by Dean Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., and a group of speakers helped convey the import of the day and the mindset of the class as they begin working in the clinics and taking care of their patients.
On average, the DMD students provide care for 128 patients during the last two years of their training, completing an average of 1,000 procedures. Garcia stressed the importance of remembering that each patient needs to be cared for as an individual which can be difficult given the stresses associated with dental school and life in general.
“Take the time to be present. Take a moment each day to be humble about what you still need to learn. And each day, embrace this huge opportunity that you have before you: to learn, to care, to serve and to heal,” she said.
Brett Zak, D.M.D., president of the college’s Academy of Alumni & Friends, congratulated the class on completing their second year of dental school and offered the continued support of the college’s alumni and friends during the completion of their training and beyond. He also talked about the importance of keeping the patient in mind and understanding the significance of the dentist’s impact on a patient.
Class member Rachit Patel spoke to the class about their journey so far and where they are heading, as well as focusing on professionalism, “We are about to embark on one of the greatest professions in the world – but it is up to us to be resilient to the unprincipled, virtuous in our standards, and diligent in our work.”
The president of the class, Angela Claire Alon-alon Sayoc, shared the code of conduct, written by the class in their freshman year and signed by all members.
Michael Aggnatz, D.D.S., the incoming president of the Florida Dental Association, spoke about how important the students’ family members and friends have been in their educational process. He emphasized that dentistry is both an art and a science, that dentists must learn to understand their patients in order to treat their oral health.
He said, “All patients bring a different perspective, much of it based on experiences, culture, education, values, fears and knowledge oral health. As physicians of the masticatory system we must examine, diagnose, educate, treatment plan and deliver treatment all within the framework of your patient’s perspective and value system.”
Marc Ottenga, D.D.S., a clinical associate professor in the department of restorative dental sciences, led a moment of silence to remember Huy Huynh, D.M.D. He graduated from the college in 2013 and recently passed away. He and his family have several close connections to the DMD Class of 2019 and to the college, and Ottenga shared several memories and comments about Huynh.
Dr. Huynh’s family would like to honor his memory by sharing the word about the dentistry scholarship fund. To honor Dr. Huynh, please visit here to donate to the Dr. Huy Huynh UF College of Dentistry Memorial Scholarship.
The attendees were also treated to two beautiful renditions of very familiar songs by members of the class. The National Anthem was arranged by Greta Smidt, and sung by Smidt and fellow class member Daniel Popper, with Constantine Granatosky playing the violin and Emily Tan playing the flute. Then all four of them sang an acapella version of the University of Florida Alma Mater in four-part harmony, bringing the ceremony to a lovely close.