When I first came into contact with the Rava family, I met Jon as we came in for our freshman football season at Gettysburg. His older brother Joe was a senior on the football team. Throughout that first season I was able to meet the rest of the family, including Dr. Rava. When I found out from Jon that his father was a dentist, I always found myself asking Jon questions about his fathers experience and life as a dentist because as a health science major at Gettysburg, dentistry is one of the main fields that I have been working toward since my high school days.
As my friendship with Jon grew, I figured it was time to try and receive the opportunity to learn under Dr. Rava himself and find out what is required to become a successful dentist. Therefore, through great aid from Career Development and my career mentor, Rebecca Barth, along with the fantastic externship program that Gettysburg College has to offer, I was able to set up a four-day summer externship with Dr. Rava’s office in Exton, PA.
Upon learning of my acceptance for this specific externship program, I was extremely eager for the opportunity to learn under a dentist that runs two successful offices, both in Exton and Malver, PA. My communication with Dr. Rava over the summer prior to my externship demonstrated great enthusiasm by him and his staff to show me as much as they can about field of dentistry. That is when I knew that I made the right decision by going forth with this opportunity. I have shadowed dentists before in the past, but no such experiences like this one, where I would spend consecutive days in the life of a dentist as well as shadowing multiple dental specialists in the fields of Endodontistry and Orthodontistry. I knew that by the end of this week I would have a better understanding of the dental industry than I’ve ever had before.
Through my experience with Dr. Rava I was able to experience all different types of general and cosmetic dental procedures. I experience generalized fillings, temporary crowns, permanent crowns, Invisalign installments, and even work with dental implants as well as prosthetic installations. That being said, witnessing these procedures being completed wasn’t just wasn’t all that I gained, I was able to learn why each specific procedure was called for. I was able to learn about different materials that were used to creating materials, and how certain advances in technology have enhanced dental procedures and what general dentists are able to achieve in the field of general and cosmetic dentistry.
Another first time experience for me as a result of this externship was the opportunity to shadow dental specialists such as Dr. Lee of Exton Endodontics and Dr. Leiss of Leiss Orthodontics. Prior to this externship I had no idea what an Endodontist was or what the job entailed. I now know that this field is specialization in root canal procedures, and I was able to see multiple procedures first hand and learn how a root canal is the clearance of damaged nerves to save the tooth and eliminate pain through a quick and now painless procedure. After my experience with Dr. Leiss, I was able to observe how advances in braces have improved the goals of orthodontics, but perhaps the most crucial knowledge gained from that experience was to gain the ability to deal with children, as they are the primary patient population for orthodontists. Those experiences gave me insight to the fact that there are more opportunities from going to dental school than I originally anticipated.
Now that the externship opportunity is over I was able to reflect on all that I learned throughout the week, perhaps the most important piece of knowledge that I gained was done by speaking to Dr. Rava and his specialist colleagues about themselves as people and dental care professionals. I learned that these people do what they do because they love helping people, and they found the positions that they are in now as best fit to attain that very goal. After this experience, I now know that no matter what I get myself into after my time here at Gettysburg, I will do so with commitment and passion, just as people like Dr. Rava do every day of their work.