Getting to Know the Class of 2024: a Q&A with Sapna Nath

August 11, 2020
Getting to Know the Class of 2024: a Q&A with Sapna Nath

Meet Sapna Nath, DMD24, a Long Island, New York, native and member of HSDM's newest class of predoctoral students. A 2019 graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Sapna received a B.S. in Economics with concentrations in Healthcare Management & Policy and Business Analytics and minored in Chemistry. During her undergraduate years, Nath was a research assistant at Penn Dental Medicine in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and the Department of Basic & Translational Sciences. She also conducted policy research at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

Nath is very interested in teaching and has provided instruction in dental education and mathematics in secondary schools, as well as organized women’s education initiatives. She recently co-founded a digital healthcare startup to improve care coordination and communication between providers, patients, and their families. Nath is very passionate about the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship, and healthcare and applying an interdisciplinary lens to close gaps in care.

Why did you choose Harvard School of Dental Medicine?

I was drawn to HSDM for the unique way the curriculum integrates dental and medical disciplines in education, research, and patient care. This training will be instrumental in helping me foster inter-professional collaboration and practice to connect different silos in healthcare.

Headshot of Sapna Nath, DMD24.What are you most excited to learn in your first year as a DMD student?

I am excited to apply what I learned in both basic and social science foundational courses to longitudinal clinical experiences during our Practice of Medicine courses. As I begin instruction in the medical school during my first year, I am eager to think critically about how we can align incentives between dentistry and medicine to reduce disparities, lower healthcare costs, and improve health outcomes.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, your first semester will be held virtually. What does it feel like to embark on the next phase of your educational journey amid a global pandemic?

First, the resilience, strength, and sacrifice of health professionals worldwide is truly inspiring. Starting dental school amidst a global pandemic has also taught me how important it is for students and practitioners to be adaptable and multidimensional. We now see how critical it is to integrate operations management, behavioral economics, market systems, and global communication to best deliver solutions in healthcare. Additionally, while online school may present certain challenges and anxieties, it will also give us time to reflect, reach out to one another, and think about the impact we want to make.

As a newcomer to Boston, what are you looking forward to most about living in the city?

I am excited to explore all the different neighborhoods of Boston. I love learning about policy and government and am eager to see many the historical sites throughout the city.

What are your goals for your career in dentistry?

I hope to be involved in innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare and specialize in oral and maxillofacial surgery. However, regardless of where my career takes me, I know that addressing social determinants of health and service to others will be central to my work.

How did you become interested in pursuing a career in dentistry?

Sapna Nath, DMD24, celebrates her virtual White Coat Ceremony at home with family and friends.
Sapna Nath, DMD24, celebrates her virtual White Coat Ceremony at home with family and friends.

Both my parents are physicians, so I have always had exposure to healthcare and medicine. After my first year of college, I decided to explore the business side of healthcare as an analyst at Henry Schein, Inc. There, I saw how dentists combined many of my scholastic and personal interests, directly integrating business, innovation, and management solutions, to improve health outcomes and make tangible change within communities. After this, my interest in dentistry grew, and I started to explore the field with a new insight and perspective.

Share a fun fact about yourself with the HSDM community.

I love tennis and once got to meet Rodger Federer (my favorite tennis player) at the Cincinnati Open!

What advice would you give to someone who is applying to dental school, or considering applying to dental school?

The advice I would give is not to be afraid to consider non-traditional paths. Pursuing different fields and being open to change can lead you to discover new passions. Most importantly, I urge you to remember that there is no one path to success academically, professionally, and personally and to embrace what makes you unique. 

See also: Community, Students