Aesun Lettsome, a biology major and pre-nursing minor, was selected to join a select a few scholars from around the nation to take part in the 2019 Summer Pre-Health Professionals Program internship at The University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston, Texas.
Lettsome aspires to be a dentist and took the initiative to do some research to find a dental program that will give him shadowing hours to go on his dental resume.
In order to get into dental school, 150 minimum shadowing hours are required.
Among the universities Lettsome was allowed to select for possible shadowing on his application were the University of California, Los Angeles, The University of Washington, Columbia University, University of Iowa, University of Florida, Western University, Rutgers University, Howard University, University of Louisville, University of Alabama, University of Nebraska and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Lettsome ended up at UT-Health.
UT-Health is the largest medical center in the world and receives thousands of applicants each summer, which Lettsome didn’t know at the time of his application.
UT-Health only accepted 60 students, 30 students per concentration, of which Lettsome was one.
Lettsome said he was glad to havebeen chosen for such a selective program. Upon being selected Lettsome noticed the program shed light on three major health fields – nursing, medicine and dentistry. Lettsome’s main focus was dentistry.
At the beginning of the internship, the participants went through a series of presentations, lectures and filled out legal documents before being placed in their fields of study.
During the internship Lettsome shadowed and did some hands-on work with an emphasis on all aspects of dentistry including pediatric dentistry, endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, oral-maxillofacial surgery, prosthodontics and general dentistry.
Originally Lettsome was interested in orthodontics or general dentistry. However, after concluding rotations, Lettsome’s interest in oral-maxillofacial surgery was sparked.
During the internship he was able to shadow Dr. Ashley Clark, DDS when a trauma patient was airlifted to the hospital after being involved in a deadly car accident.
The case looked almost untreatable. However, Clark was able to use harvest bone from another part of the patient’s body to recreate their jaw. She was also able to recreate a tongue and an oesophagus using tissue from the thigh.
Lettsome said watching the operation was a revelation regarding what oral-maxillofacial surgeons can do.
“She literally made something out of nothing,” Lettsome said. “The operation was a huge eye-opener.”
Lettsome said he was very grateful for the opportunity. to be able to work with new faces and meeting colleagues in his field from prestigious universities.
He saw the internship as more than accruing the required number of shadowing hours, but also in that it served as the perfect opportunity to connect with professional dentists to get helpful tips and pointers to improve his dental knowledge. Considering that the program was at a dental school, Lettsome was able to network with dental students who had just finished their undergraduate matriculation.
These students gave useful pointers for taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT), dental school interviews and completing the lengthy American Dental Association Dental School application.
Lettsome said the experience will propel him into the next shadowing program with momentum.