Since 1899, the OHSU School of Dentistry has produced Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Hygienists, as well as participating in research, patient care, outreach and community service throughout the region. This month, we hear from Farielle Houran, who is nearing the end of her four-year D.M.D student journey.
How did you pick Dentistry?
I grew up in southwest Portland, graduating from Beaverton High School, and then Pacific University with a bachelor of science in biology, and a minor in Spanish.
Through a string of events and excellent mentorship throughout my years at Pacific, it was clear to me that God had put me on the journey to dentistry. I had no dental insurance growing up, so by the time I was in my teens, I had a lot of cavities, a tooth that needed a root canal, and a chipped central incisor. At an early age, I learned what it was like to be embarrassed of your teeth and in dental pain.
Luckily, I had an awesome dentist who took care of my dental problems, and put the idea of dentistry in my mind. After that, I spent time observing a dental hygienist and dentist when I was in high school. I got bored observing the hygienist, but loved the teaching aspect of dentistry, being able to help people smile, and the dental tools looked fun! I also appreciate that as a dental professional, I am privileged with the opportunity to influence my community in a positive way.
Why did you choose OHSU?
The primary reason I chose OHSU is that it is in Oregon. The last four years have been the hardest years in my life so far, but a highlight is being able to learn dentistry with a group of 75 students, as well as mentored by some outstanding instructors. I love seeing my classmates interact with and treat their patients. I’ve learned so much from them, and that’s one of the many things I’m going to miss about being a student at OHSU after graduation.
What programs have you been involved with as an OHSU student?
I am the chief scheduler for dental students volunteering on four Medical Teams International vans, which the dental school utilizes monthly for care in low-income Portland neighborhoods. About 40 children per month receive oral care, thanks to these vans. We see a number of oral problems in the children who come to the vans. It’s not uncommon to hear dental students rave about the pediatric dental experience they have when volunteering on the vans.
I also created the Reach Out and Read program, which provides books and readers to dental school pediatric patients in the waiting areas. Other organizations I volunteer for include Give Kids a Smile, Sealant Day, and Celebration of Smiles.
Highlights of my four years include being a member and President of the Hispanic Student Dental Association. I was able to organize an annual school wide screening/fluoride application day at Cornelius elementary, a predominately Hispanic speaking k-5 school that I work at during undergrad.
I’ve also discovered the incredible opportunity to offer the skills that we’re taught in dental school in different countries, while being exposed to different cultures! In the last year and half, I’ve served on two dental humanitarian trips, traveling to Barron, Mexico in 2013, and Ecuador in 2014.
What are your plans for the future?
After graduation, I hope to advance further in pediatric dentistry, and ultimately work as an associate in a pediatric dentistry practice with a Spanish- speaking clientele. I love learning, and in dentistry, you’re constantly learning. Placing a child into the mix makes the profession that much more challenging, rewarding, and fun.
People are often surprised when I tell them I’m interested in pediatric dentistry, but I’ve always known that I wanted to work with children. I can’t look at a child and not smile. I love the aspect of preventative care in pediatric dentistry, and being able to start early in educating children about healthy oral habits.
For more from our students, be sure to visit our Student Speak blog.