Who is Trish Richardson? My name is Trish Richardson, and I'm a twenty-four-year-old final-year dental student at the University of the West Indies, located in Trinidad and Tobago. I was born and raised in Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. Growing up, I was raised in a single-parent home after losing my father to cancer at the age of 12. Despite this loss, my mother, extended family, and the Anguillian community all played significant roles in shaping me into the woman I am today. After successfully completing high school and an advanced post-secondary program (sixth form), I embarked on a life-changing journey in 2017 to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a dentist. Today, I stand just a few months away from achieving that dream.
Name: Trish Richardson
Job Title/Job Duties: Dental Student
Number of Years in the Field: 5
Special Awards: Recipient of the Doctor of Dental Surgery Scholarship from the Government of Anguilla
How did you choose to pursue this field? During my early childhood, I experienced cavities that led to the loss of all my upper front teeth, a result of nighttime bottle feeding. This condition required frequent visits to the dentist. In an effort to prevent potential bullying at school due to the premature loss of my baby teeth, the dentist made dentures for me. It was this moment that sparked my fascination with dentistry, and as I continued to grow, my interest in this field remained a constant presence in my life.
Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field? When I was in high school, I dedicated my summer and Christmas breaks to volunteering at the Anguilla Dental Unit. It was there that I had the privilege of working alongside outstanding dentists such as Dr. Lindel Brooks, Dr. Sarah Ruan, and Dr. John Jones. I shadowed these experienced professionals, witnessing firsthand their exceptional dedication to patient care and their commitment to delivering top-quality dental work. Their passion and expertise deeply inspired me and I desired to become as skilled as they were. They all saw potential in me that I had not yet recognized in myself, and their support and encouragement continue to motivate me in my journey to becoming a dentist.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? Yes, I have always desired to work in this field.
What do you love most about your job? I thoroughly enjoy interacting with my patients. Each individual is unique, and I find great satisfaction in discovering the interesting aspects of the people I've been fortunate to connect with.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career? The most rewarding aspect of practicing dentistry is the ability to enhance my patients' confidence. During their initial visits, many patients often feel self-conscious about their smiles, but by the end of their treatment, they regain the joy of confidently smiling once more.
What things would you change about your job? One change I am passionate about in the field of dentistry is improving accessibility to dental care for underserved communities. It saddens me to know that there are individuals who are unable to access necessary dental treatment due to financial barriers and limited availability of dental services. I look forward to one day seeing the implementation of initiatives and policies designed to make dental care more affordable and accessible, ensuring that everyone can maintain their oral health. A goal of mine is to be able to contribute to these changes and help create a more equitable and inclusive dental care system for all.
What has been the most difficult or disappointing aspect of your job? One of the most challenging aspects of dentistry is its time-consuming nature. The profession demands a significant amount of energy and effort, which can potentially lead to burnout. Therefore, effective time management and planning become essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
How have you combated the stigma of being a "woman of color" in STEM? I combat the stigma by showcasing my abilities. I no longer let people’s opinions of me affect me. I've remained resilient in the face of adversity, recognizing that every challenge I overcome paves the way for the next generation. My goal is to inspire young girls who share my background, showing them that pursuing a career in STEM is possible.
What tips would you offer for anyone thinking about entering into your profession? Firstly, focus on achieving excellent grades. Secondly, seek connections with dental professionals in your community and initiate shadowing early on. This exposure will serve as an advantage when you enter dental school. Lastly, remember that the path to becoming a dentist can be challenging, but do not be discouraged by setbacks or obstacles. Maintain your determination and commitment to your goals.
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a "woman of color" working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field? If I could speak to my younger self, I would emphasize that I am just as qualified to be in this DDS program as my peers. I would remind myself that my intelligence, kindness, patience, and love are valuable assets, serving as my unique superpowers. With these qualities, there's no challenge that can stand in my way. I would want my younger self to always remember that confidence and self-belief are the keys to success.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice? Success in any field demands dedication and sacrifice, but with determination, it is attainable. Along your journey, challenges are inevitable, but it's crucial to maintain a positive mindset. Challenges are a part of life, and they should never define your worth. You possess more strength than you realize.
On my journey to becoming a dentist, I encountered individuals who said I would never be accepted into a dental school and I should change my career choice. I faced setbacks, the painful loss of loved ones, battles with depression, and the weight of anxiety. These moments tested my resilience, but they also imparted an invaluable lesson: the inner strength that empowers us to rise above adversity.
What is your favorite Quote? How do you apply this to your life?
Even in my childhood, the Bible verse from Philippians 4:13,
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
Held a special place in my heart. Whenever I encountered a challenge, I would recite this verse to myself, finding immediate peace and strength.
What are your future goals related to your career? My future goal is to one day establish my own dental practice where I can provide high-quality dental care.
What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share? In January 2021, I became a self-published author. My children's book, titled "Tia Visits the Dentist," emphasizes the importance of maintaining good oral health through practices like regular brushing and flossing, a balanced diet, and biannual dental check-ups to prevent dental caries (cavities). In writing this book, my main goal was to instill in children the importance of being proactive and concerned about their oral health as they grow into responsible adults.
What are the best ways to reach you if anyone has further questions?
I can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links to your website and social media: