Research Your Passions

Updated: Aug 6


Hello, Pre-Dents!


My name is Macy and I am in my third year of dental school. The journey to get into dental school is certainly a challenging one, but the destination is rewarding!


Should I do Research?

There is a lot of talk among pre-dental students about the importance of doing research. If you are not interested in research at all, do not feel pressured into doing it. It is not a requirement for dental schools and they will not overlook you if it is not a part of your experiences. However, if you have an interest in doing research, do it! It will allow you to discover what you are passionate about (and in some cases what you are not). You will gain so much knowledge on your topic of research that it will be a great topic of discussion when interviewing at dental schools. With that being said, the research that you are a part of does not have to be focused on the hard sciences, like chemistry or biology.

My Research Passion

I found my passion for global health through my major and I wanted to do research in that field. During my third year of college, I applied to the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology field school and spent the summer doing research with graduate students in Guatemala. We conducted a landscape analysis of the healthcare services provided to the Mayan children who were disabled in Santa Maria de Jesus, Guatemala. We interviewed the Mayan families of the children who had disabilities and we observed their cultural and societal norms as well as the barriers that they faced in receiving the care they needed. We interviewed the healthcare organizations that were available to the community to better understand the services that they offered to the children who have disabilities. The assessment allowed us to comprehend the need for more accessible occupational therapy services for the disabled children of Santa Maria de Jesus. The information we gathered allowed the Guatemala Occupational Therapy Ministry to request a grant that would fund their organization to provide year-round occupational therapy to Mayan children with disabilities.

How Research Helped Me

Through my experience, I learned a lot about how culture and society’s perception of disability can influence one’s ability to receive necessary healthcare. The research allowed me to work with people who have disabilities and it opened my eyes to their needs and how I can meet them. To this day I still carry what I have learned with me as a dental student and I have continued this research at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine.


Best of luck in pursuing your passions in dentistry!


-Macy Punzalan


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