During his time at Hamilton, Jonathan Michel ’13 proved himself to be highly motivated and organized. A four-year starter on the offensive line of the football team, he also found time to play club hockey and serve as the chair of the Judicial Board. Michel describes balancing his extracurricular commitments with coursework as “an exercise in discipline and time management.” He put those skills to good use and applied for dental school beginning directly after Hamilton. While many students take a year off to focus on the Dental Admission Test and school interviews, Michel completed his applications in July, and in December was accepted to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, where he will work toward a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS).
The time Michel spent in chemistry and biology classes at Hamilton helped him to develop an idea of what he wanted to do. He says that labs “solidified that I wanted to work with my hands . . . I value working with my hands rather than sitting at a desk.” He originally thought he might go into pharmaceuticals or become a doctor.
The summer after his freshman year, however, an internship at Roswell Park Cancer Institute changed his plans. Through the internship, Michel had the opportunity to shadow different kinds of medical professionals. He then realized that dentistry suited his interests better than becoming a doctor or pharmacist would, even though he had not considered dentistry as a career choice before. He explained, “I found that dentistry was very hands on. Dentists see the problem and treat it right away, all without seeing someone at their worst.” He also found the long-term follow-up aspect of dentistry appealing. Michel commented, “Oftentimes dentists get to know their patients over their careers.”
Over school breaks, Michel gained more experience by observing two dentists. He shadowed his own personal dentist and a family friend, and he was able to gain a sense of their different approaches.” He observed how the dentists kept efficient schedules that allowed them to interact with patients without keeping them waiting or allowing the quality of their work to suffer, lessons that he will eventually be able to apply to his own practice.
At Columbia, Michel will begin a four year program. He will spend the first year-and-a-half in the classroom, including lab work with teeth models, in order to “get a feel for the skills.” Then he will spend the last two years in a clinic, where he will have a chance to study all the various dental specialties. At the moment, Michel is thinking of going into oral surgery or orthodontics. He predicts that he will probably go into some kind of hospital setting, building on his experience at Roswell Park. He remarked that he appreciated “how much collaboration there was. They can complete complicated multi-step procedures in one day.” Michel expressed some flexibility though, saying that he’s “not sure where the road’s going to take me.”
The road ahead will certainly present some substantial changes for Michel, including a move from Buffalo to New York City. However, he feels confident that the skills he has gained from Hamilton and the time he spent in internships and shadowing will prepare him to meet any future challenges.