Witness Dentistry First-Hand

August 28, 2019
Eddie Popa, DMD23

Meet Eddie Popa, a member of the Class of 2023 and new student at HSDM. This profile is part of a series of stories about our newest DMD students.

Tell us about your background.

I am originally from Romania, and I immigrated to the United States when I was three years old to the Chicagoland area where I grew up. I then went to the University of Iowa for my undergraduate, where I majored in biochemistry and chemistry. I got involved as a lab teaching assistant and group study leader for two different foundational biology courses. I also did research in environmental/physical chemistry, studying sea spray aerosol particles using atomic force microscopy (one of the research projects I participated in was published, too!)

For fun, I like to snowboard, outdoor rock-climb, and travel. I have currently been to 12 total countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Ireland.

Eddie Popa, DMD23Why did you choose Harvard School of Dental Medicine?

I chose Harvard School of Dental Medicine for the stress they place on treating dentistry as a subspecialty of medicine, combining the curriculum with that of their Medical School for the first year.

What are you most excited about learning in your first year as a DMD student?

I’m excited for the clinicals and practice of medicine sessions where we get the opportunity to refine our face-to-face interactional abilities. This is an invaluable skill that helps make someone not only a competent clinician, but also a trusted dental professional within their community.

What are your goals for a career in dentistry?

I would like to become an oral maxillofacial surgeon, but I’m not sure what subspecialty yet. I look forward to applying the medical knowledge provided by HSDM/HMS to help patients overcome problems that have a deep impact on their lives. I want to make a personal, lasting impact on someone’s daily life and I truly believe this is a field that will allow me to do so. Four years from now, I hope to be admitted into an oral maxillofacial surgery residency!

How did you become interested in pursuing a career in dentistry?
Eddie Popa (right) with his DMD23 classmate

My mom introduced me to the field, having worked as a dental assistant for close to 15 years. On days off from school, I would go to the dental office my mom worked at and help out with trivial tasks. As I got older, this grew into a relationship with my dentists, where I grew to appreciate the sense of fulfillment associated with helping patients as a dental professional.

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

Take the time to witness dentistry first-hand, through shadowing, assisting, and volunteer dental clinics.  Seek mentorship from dental professionals who can share what their experience with the field has been like.
See also: Community, Students