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Why Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?

Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Bhalla chose the field of Oral & Maxillofacial surgery and why

oral maxillofacial surgery is a great field for all.

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Growing up I knew I had an interest in healthcare and that I enjoy working with my hands; I chose to go to dental school. During dental school, I had the privilege of witnessing Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons work in Central America. Despite the often dangerous working conditions, language barriers, and archaic equipment, I admired their ability to remain calm and improvise. After the completion of dental school in Canada, I seeked out the challenge of doing a general practice residency in an extremely busy trauma center in New York. On the first day of residency, I saw multiple facial lacerations, fractures, and infections. Throughout my residency, I was exposed to many oral and maxillofacial surgery patients and procedures. Participating in these surgical procedures and gaining more knowledge in this field, enthralled me. My experience sparked my interest in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and I absolutely fell in love with it. The excitement I felt for complex cases like Le Fort fractures, mandibular fractures, panfacial trauma, nonunions/malunions, made me feel that I had found my calling.

That year, a 25-year-old patient who had been a victim of domestic violence was brought in on a night that I was on-call. She suffered multiple comminuted facial fractures. It was the OMFS team that managed her. After multiple surgeries including an external fixator, her condition began to improve. I can still recall her happiness as she was regaining her ability to function and smile. Her gratification made me even more passionate about OMFS. Since then, it has been my goal to complete an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency.

I was fortunate to match to my program and have been happier for it. So top five thoughts/reasons about Why Oral and Maxillofacial:

  1. Variety – I can spend one day in private practice taking out wisdom teeth, placing dental implants and performing sinus augmentation procedures. The next day, I can spend my day operating on complex facial fractures in an Operating Room with residents.

  2. Academic component – This is an extension of variety. I can choose to have a largely academic career. That means I can participate in research and teaching residents or I could choose not to do that.

  3. Balance – There are perhaps a handful of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery injuries that require immediate attention. Most of them can be taken to the Operating Room the next morning. That means I can reliably introduce new hobbies and passion projects to my life – knowing that I will be getting a good night’s sleep every night. This will not be true in residency but more so after.

  4. Working with your hands – I have spent hours at a “desk” and realized that I much prefer being on my feet and working with my hands. To me personally, it makes my day faster and more enjoyable.

  5. Medical component – A lot of my hospital patients have complex medical histories or are being managed by other services. That means, I get to stay in touch with medical knowledge. That is something I like.

And those are some thoughts! I have yet to meet an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon who is dissatisfied with their job. Please feel free to contact me on my IG - @dr.natashabhalla if you have any questions for me.

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