Bringing Curiosity to Dentistry

May 21, 2019
Thomas Ferlito

On Thursday, May 30, Thomas Ferlito will take the stage as HSDM’s student speaker at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical School’s Class Day ceremony. In preparation for that moment, Ferlito reflected on his experiences at HSDM–what they have meant to him, and how they’ll continue to shape him moving forward.

“The connections I have made here have by far been the most meaningful part of HSDM for me. Being able to collaborate with my classmates, faculty, and residents helped me to consider new ideas and think in ways that I never would have on my own,” Ferlito said. “Everyone brought something different to each discussion or patient interaction and it was truly educational to interact with everyone around me.”

Thomas FerlitoThe soon-to-be DMD graduate acknowledged the challenges he has faced during his four years at HSDM and what it took to overcome them. “I would tell my first-year self to be more patient waiting for my clinical skills to develop,” he said. “I realize now just how much practice and experience it takes, but during my early days in the clinic it seemed that every time I would think I had the hang of something, a difficult case would come along to prove otherwise.”

Ferlito developed lasting and meaningful relationships with members of the HSDM faculty that ultimately taught him important lessons about the clinical practice of dentistry, as well as about the intangible impact of role models and mentors.

“My experiences in the clinic with Drs. James Nager and Ronald Rosen were very important to me. As part-time faculty, both were a constant reminder of how great a profession dentistry can be in teaching and in private practice,” he said. “While clinic was difficult when I first started out, both Dr. Nager and Dr. Rosen’s calm, jovial demeanors and trust in me gave me a lot of confidence that was essential for learning and growing as a clinician. I hope that one day I will be able to give back – as they did for me – by teaching part-time too.”

As Ferlito prepares to address his classmates, their friends and families, and the HSDM and HMS communities, he is aware of how HSDM will continue to Class of 2019shape his career long into the future. “Seeing my classmates and mentors accomplish incredible things during my time here really inspired me to explore my own areas of interest and helped make my own goals seem well within reach,” he said. “In cultivating my passions and personal interests over my four years here, I hope to bring my curiosity to the profession to help solve complex issues and generate new ideas for the field.”

Fortunately for Ferlito, Class Day does not mark the end of his HSDM career. He was accepted into the Orthodontics Advanced Graduate Education program at HSDM and will begin his residency this summer. What excites him most about his future in dentistry? “With dentistry becoming ever more intertwined with technology, I am most excited to see how the field will change throughout my career, and I cannot wait to engage with these changes to improve patient outcomes,” he said. “I see technology not as something to be fearful of, but rather as an advantage and a way to stay engaged in dental innovation for years to come.”

View Tom's Class Day speech.

See also: Community, Students