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Decisions for Recent Grads

KaVo Kerr Connections

KaVo Kerr Team

Decisions for Recent Grads

Dr. Serena Shah — continuing to learn and always progressing

Dr. Serena Shah remembers the day she decided that dentistry would be her destiny. She was a 20-year-old college sophomore on a humanitarian trip to Kampala, Uganda with her father, Dr. Paresh Shah and four other dentists. As Dr. Serena describes, a dental clinic was set up with donated supplies and equipment that included full sterilization and suction. Dr. Serena recalled a 10-year-old girl patient that changed the course of her life. “She had very decayed back teeth and discolored front teeth. She didn’t speak English, so she was very scared. I suggested that my dad fix her front teeth first and show her the results. Her teeth actually looked very nice afterwards. She was so happy, with a huge smile on her face. Then, she let him work on her back teeth. When we returned home, I thought back to that visit and the expression on the little girl’s face. When she saw how pretty her smile was, her whole attitude changed. Her self-confidence increased, and she had a sparkle in her eyes. Until that moment, I never realized that dentistry could have that much of an impact on a person’s life. After taking college classes for several different types of medical specialties in addition to dentistry, my decision was finally made. I wanted to continue my father’s dental legacy.  I told my dad that I had decided to be a dentist. I will always remember that moment. My dad said, ‘Now that you said you are going to do dentistry, you can’t take it back! I’m so excited!’”

Dr. Serena studied dentistry at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in San Francisco. She noted, “The school not only teaches the basics but also encourages modern techniques and incorporates the latest technologies. In my opinion, good dental care is definitely linked to technology. When in dental school, we had faculty members who would let us experience new products, techniques, and technologies. And now, for the past several months, I have been working at the office of my mentor, Dr. Lou Graham, and I am able to work with equipment and materials that can help me be a better diagnostician and a better clinician. As I shadow Dr. Graham, I see him using innovative techniques every day that I wouldn’t have even thought of. This keeps me open minded and progressing. This is really exciting because my dad and Dr. Graham try to incorporate groundbreaking technologies into their practices. Both of them enjoy educating others about dental innovations as speakers and lecturers.”

Although Dr. Serena had an opportunity to attend an advanced education in general dentistry program, she says she was fortunate that Dr. Graham, a seasoned dental clinician and educator, offered to mentor her in his practice, which could offer her exposure to specialists as well as state-of-the art technologies.  Dr. Serena says, “As a general dentist, I am able to practice diverse and comprehensive dentistry. I also am learning from the specialists in the office including a periodontist and endodontist, and shadowing Dr. Susan McMahon who is certified by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. I am learning so much about the aesthetics of dentistry from her, in addition to all of the others. It is all so exciting.”

“After graduation from dental school and throughout my career, there will always be something new to learn,” says Dr. Serena. “This is why having a mentor is so important. They can make you strive to improve and learn more each day. Of course, school provides us with the basics, but I was very lucky to find a mentor who invests in the most beneficial technologies for patients and who wants to teach me about how to use them to become a more effective dentist.”

Dr. Serena notes that mentoring and continuing education are focuses of Dr. Graham and Dr. Paresh Shah. The two dental professionals met in the Catapult® Group, which was founded by Dr. Graham. The group brings clinical information to dentists by assessing and promoting new products, techniques, and developments. “So whether dentists are just graduated from school or seasoned professionals, they realize how important it is to keep increasing knowledge of products, materials, and equipment that can help you excel in dentistry,” says Dr. Serena.

Graduation day at UOP, June 18, 2017, was a particularly poignant date for the Shah family because it was Father’s Day. Dr. Serena gave her father a great gift — that his legacy and his expertise would continue on as his daughter began life as a dental professional. Dr. Serena is not afraid of working hard to accomplish her goals. She aspires to emulate the characteristics that have established her father, Dr. Shah and Dr. Graham as leaders in the dental community. She describes, “They never settle for less, are very open minded, and continue to progress even though they are already at the top of their profession. I want to practice dentistry that way — continuing to learn and always striving to provide my patients with the best care. And then, in the future, hopefully I can mentor a student just out of dental school and continue to inspire a new generation of dentists to discover the power of technologies and techniques that can improve patient care.”

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