Third-year UTHSC College of Dentistry student Sonali Demla thinks training during the pandemic will make her a better dentist in the future.
“As third-year dentistry students, we have been given the green light to begin seeing our own patients, and getting to experience that has been amazing,” Demla said. “There have been lots of changes in the clinic and changes in dentistry, and if something like this were to happen again in the future, we are trained on ways that we could potentially tackle the issue.”
She says some of those changes include more protocols with PPE including wearing N95 masks, face shields, and gowns. The College of Dentistry has also installed shields separating treatment areas and are using extraoral suction devices to filter out more aerosols during treatment. “The College of Dentistry has done a great job implementing new COVID-19 measures and as a student dentist, I feel very safe,” she said.
While training as a student dentist, Demla is also serving as the new president of the Student Government Association Executive Council (SGAEC) and as the UTHSC Advisory Board student member.
As the new SGAEC president and UTHSC Advisory Board student member, Demla hopes to help other students transitioning into a new city and new environment feel welcomed and as comfortable as possible. “The SGAEC wants to help students keep a positive outlook throughout this upcoming year. We are all navigating and trying to figure this all out together.”
Demla is an Oklahoma native, and earned her degree from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She fell in love with the dentistry profession after shadowing a dentist in middle school, and ultimately chose to move to Memphis after being accepted into the UTHSC College of Dentistry. “There’s so much culture in Memphis, and so much going on. Everyone in my program has been super nice and super welcoming.”
She is also an advocate for maintaining wellness during this new normal. “Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been focusing on my personal health. In the past couple of months, I’ve reached goals with fitness that I didn’t have much time to do before.”
She said she is eager to serve her fellow students and be the student member of the advisory board. “I’m really excited to hear about the experiences of the advisory board and what got them to this role, what they’ve accomplished since they’ve left UTHSC. And to create a positive environment for our students, while we’re all tackling this new year together.”