Have you ever wondered how to make your summer vacation more productive? Last summer, I was so fortunate to get involved with the HCOP clinical/community internship program. For six weeks, I had the utmost privilege to shadow Dr. Gutierrez along with his fabulous staff. The HCOPmoment I entered his practice, I was blown away at this beautiful location and started envisioning myself with my my own practice. His staff greeted me with warm welcomes and gave me a tour of the dental office. It was wonderful getting to meet such a diverse group of employees who came from unique backgrounds, including one who served in the armed forces for nine years.

Along with the diversity in employees, I also got to witness diversity in patients. I definitely enjoyed seeing patients who came from a variety of backgrounds, varying from being a judge for beauty pageants, a firefighter, a Fresno State athlete, and many more. I had permission to observe Dr. Gutierrez as he treated patients, and doing so made me more passionate in pursuing dentistry as a career! I realized that dentistry is a form of artwork as I observed Dr. Gutierrez meticulously trim teeth when doing fillings or crowns. Moreover, I enjoyed witnessing Dr. Gutierrez and his staff establish great relationships with each patient as they asked for updates on their families, jobs, and various other topics. It was evident that Dr. Gutierrez certainly cares for his patients’ well-being and I gained more respect for the health field.

After the internship ended, I stayed in touch with Dr. Gutierrez and his staff to help out with future dental-related events. Outside of his office, Dr Gutierrez and his  staff provide mouthguards for various sports teams at Fresno State and Clovis High School.

Mala and Staff
The wonderful team and I took impressions at Clovis High School to create mouthguards for the boys’ waterpolo team.

On October 24, 2015, I volunteered for Team Smile, an annual event involving several dentists, dental hygenists, and dental assistants who provided free dental treatment for over 100 underserved children! All of the children’s parents were so grateful that these health professionals took time on a weekend to do such a selfless act of kindness. If I had never taken part in the clinical internship, I would have missed out on this stellar opportunity.

Team Smile
Ambassadors Mala Singh & Nicole Shinkawa and pre-dental student Jennifer Lee volunteered at Team Smile.

Do you sometimes doubt whether your career aspiration is right for you? I found taking part in a community service event and internship related to my career goals so helpful. Several college students change majors because they are unsure of whether their goals are right for them. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone to take part in an internship and/or community service projects related to your field of study, in order to fully consider whether your career aspiration is right for you.

-Ambassador Mala