Every time I think of this past summer, I smile. Almost immediately after completing my finals spring term, I hopped on a plane to Goteborg, Sweden. My adventure had begun! For just over five weeks I externed in the Dental Clinical Research Department with Astra Tech AB, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures dental implants. One of my tasks while working at Astra, now known as Dentsply, was categorizing all of the completed, ongoing, and potential studies into a variety of subcategories such as study type, product used, surgical procedure performed, etc. Also I assisted the lead investigators with their ongoing studies in China and Central and Western Europe, performed literature searches, and created a new database for all of their investigator-initiated studies. My favorite task was learning about previous findings in the field of implantology as well as current advancements and cutting edge technology by reading through all of the different documents associated with the individual studies.
My externship was made possible through the generosity of the Carleton alumni. I was a part of the 2012 MCAN Scholars Program (Multi-Cultural Alumni Network). The network supports a group of rising juniors and seniors who have summer internships, which helps them determine their future career paths. I attended a panel in which the previous scholars discussed their summer internships in the fall of 2011. This inspired me to apply for a position at Astra Tech; the funding (grant) I received from the Scholars Program paid for my flights, room and board, and transportation in Goteborg.
Looking back on my summer, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I was given. As an extern, I was privy to the inside world of clinical dental research, where I learned all of the ins and outs of how my career and life would be as a researcher. Many of the researcher coordinators and my mentor at Astra practiced dentistry before diving into research. Currently I am planning on following their route: hopefully going to dental school next year, practicing dentistry, possibly teaching at a dental school, and eventually doing some research. Maybe in the future I’ll be one of the dentists that Astra works with when conducting their international studies!