Compiled by Dr. Moein Sadrkhani
Dr. Adetaye Adeseye is a UCLA resident who was recently interviewed about his journey to endodontics. His story is an inspiring one. Get to know him here:
The Paper Point: Dr. Adeseye, thank you for accepting our interview request. Tell us about yourself, Adetaye.
Dr. Adetaye Adeseye: My name, Adetaye, means “first born” in Nigerian. My twin brother, Adekehinde, means “second born.” We were raised by my mom in Las Vegas. After majoring in biological sciences (pre-med) at Stanford University, I realized that I was not passionate about pursuing a career in medicine. So I took some time after graduation to figure things out. One day, I happened to take my mom to the dentist for a root canal. She was terrified of the dentist and would only go if I held her hand during the procedure. I appreciated how the dentist noticed my mom’s fear and did his best to make her comfortable. He treated her as a person instead of just a tooth. Also, the root canal procedure fascinated me with all the technology and different colored files. The dentist noticed my interest and recommended I look into pursuing a career in dentistry. As a result, I began volunteering as a dental assistant at UNLV orthodontic residency. Mentorship during this experience allowed me to develop a passion for dentistry that I lacked during college.
The Paper Point: After getting your bachelor’s, you started working as lab technician and optician apprentice. How was that? And what made you go back to school and start your dentistry journey?
Dr. Adeseye: After college, I worked at LensCrafters for five years. I loved working there, and in retrospect, it was a natural transition to dentistry. I enjoyed working with my hands in the lab which required great attention to detail. Errors small as fractions of a millimeter could make a huge difference in a person being able to see with their glasses. I also enjoyed interacting with customers on the retail floor as an optician apprentice. Dentistry allows me to combine both of those passions into a satisfying career.
The Paper Point: Harvard is a demanding dental school, what motivated you to continue?
Dr. Adeseye: Being in an environment of excellence brings out the best in people. My classmates were so talented yet down to earth. We had fun and worked hard as we motivated each other to excel and reach our true potential.
The Paper Point: Why did you choose endodontics?
Dr. Adeseye: My mom’s root canal was a formative experience that subconsciously guided my decision to pursue endodontics and continues to affect how I treat my own patients. I initially became interested in endodontics due to the engaging faculty at Harvard. They were so passionate about teaching and supported their lectures with evidence based literature. As I explored my interest, endodontic residents took me under their wing. They answered my endless stream of questions and allowed me to assist their cases. I gradually realized there is no other specialty that would make me as happy as endodontics.
The Paper Point: I see you have done few researches so far; talk to us about them. Any new projects you are working on at UCLA?
Dr. Adeseye: I developed a passion for research while working as a research assistant at a molecular biology lab at UNLV. I studied the form and function of proteins involved in the drought response in rice with the goal of creating a more resilient crop. There, I developed numerous skills that I still use today such as an appreciation for the scientific method and how to present a scientific PowerPoint. Since then, I have been involved with a wide range of projects that focus on dental anatomy, primary care, autism, and the nutritional value of alternative milk sources. Currently I am working on a project related to COVID-19 that studies the function and underlying regulatory mechanism of ACE2.
The Paper Point: You have been in research, leadership positions and teaching plus editorial positions — which one did you like most?
Dr. Adeseye: I enjoy all the activities that I have participated but the most rewarding is teaching. It is satisfying connecting with other people and watching their skills and knowledge improve over time. Teaching also allows me to master concepts as I consolidate information into a format that is easy to learn and matches the learning style of my students.
The Paper Point: You have done quite a bit of volunteering during these years; tell us more about them.
Dr. Adeseye: I have been blessed to achieve many things throughout my life. But I realize it would not have been possible without many mentors who have helped me along the way. The volunteering activity that was most rewarding involved mentoring high school students. I went to their school to play games, help them with homework, and tell them about my path to dentistry. They also came to Harvard School of Dental Medicine to tour the school and participate in various workshops such as an interview panel and taking impressions of their fingers. The students were full of excitement and curiosity and asked thoughtful questions. One of the most touching moments was when a student told me, “You’re black like me. Maybe one day I can be a dentist.” This experience reminds me of the importance of diversity in the field of healthcare. I will continue to pay it forward, inspire youth in underserved communities, and expose them to different healthcare professions.
The Paper Point: You just started your second year of residency at UCLA; how is bruin life?
Dr. Adeseye: Life as a bruin is better than I could have ever imagined. My program director is incredibly dedicated and does everything in her power to ensure we will graduate as well-trained endodontists. The faculty are equally as passionate at helping us aim for academic and clinical excellence. But the best part of residency has to be my co-residents. The fun and supportive environment that we share has led to many fond memories that I will always treasure. The past four months have been rewarding as we all worked together with our director to uphold our clinical obligation to the local community in a safe and responsible manner. I look forward to all the next year has to offer.
The Paper Point: What do you in your free time? How do you like Los Angeles?
Although I enjoyed my time back East, the West coast will always feel like home. Los Angeles is a diverse community that has pretty much anything you could want. In my free time, I love to exercise and go hiking or do yoga. I’m also a huge foodie and enjoy exploring all the different types of food Los Angeles has to offer.
The Paper Point: Any last words for our readers?
Dr. Adeseye: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story. This year has been unique considering the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 and an increased awareness of the social injustices in this country. I was just discussing with my best friend, who is an endodontic resident at UT Houston, how fortunate we are to help people save their teeth and get rid of their pain.
Treating emergency patients during the pandemic has reminded me of the importance of endodontics. I am proud to be a part of this supportive community and I look forward to meeting many of you in person at future AAE meetings.
About the author: Dr. Moein Sadrkhani is chair of AAE’s Resident and New Practitioner Committee and is in private practice in Dallas.