Compiled by Moein Sadrkhani, D.D.S., M.S.
Dr. Divya Kanodia is a second-year endodontics resident at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. The Paper Point’s Dr. Moein Sadrkhani recently caught up with her to learn more about her journey to endo, her hobbies outside of endo (check out her artwork below!), and how she’s faring in these times.
Dr. Moein Sadrkhani: Dr. Kanodia, thank you for accepting our interview request. Tell us about yourself. And how did you get interested in dentistry?
Dr. Divya Kanodia: I am delighted to be doing this interview. Thank you! I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. Presently I am a second year endodontics resident at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. Prior to that, I received a Bachelor’s in Dental Surgery (B.D.S.) from Government Dental College and Hospital in Mumbai, India, in October 2015, followed by a two-year certificate in Advanced Clinical Training Program (ACT) in Endodontics from UCLA School of Dentistry.
From a significantly young age, I have been fascinated by my dentist. During my teenage years, I had to get a root canal treatment done. Seeing me petrified of going through the procedure my dentist very calmly explained the entire process step by step along with the use of each instrument to make me comfortable. This lit a spark, so much so that she became a guide, and an inspiration to me and encouraged me to consider dentistry as a potential career choice. Another person I have idolized is my uncle. At a young age, I watched him leave the country to chase his dream of pursuing education and building a successful career in a foreign land. The mentorship of my dentist and the dedication of my uncle has, ever since, been a driving force for me.
Dr. Sadrkhani: What made you choose endodontics as a specialty? And how did it bring you to the United States?
Dr. Kanodia: My dental school was one of the few institutes at that time to have an operating microscope, and the peculiarity of this made me generally curious about endodontics. As a dental practitioner, saving a tooth is my goal and endodontics works at the “root” of it. This aligned closely with my approach.
One-and-a-half months of rotation in the Endodontics Department at my dental school in India was enough to make me fall in love with the specialty. Seeing the relief and happiness on the faces of my patients after I’d let them know that their teeth could be saved by doing root canal treatment was truly gratifying and rewarding.
I was determined to pursue endodontics as my career and the United States was an easy choice for its cutting-edge practices in dental care, the synergy between its educational and professional institutes, the focus on evidence-based dentistry, and my own familiarity with the country due to my visits to my uncle.
Dr. Sadrkhani: You have been at BU, UCLA and now Columbia for residency; which was your favorite?
Dr. Kanodia: They are three very different, yet very consequential experiences.
My experience at BU was only a month-long preceptorship, but it was a good orientation to the basics of dentistry in the United States and reinforced by interest in pursuing my education and career in this country.
UCLA was a crucial step in expanding my knowledge and skills, and to create professional connections. It also sparked my interest in research which I would like to pursue in my career. It was also instrumental in achieving my goal to be a resident at a prestigious school like Columbia.
And last, but certainly not the least, Columbia is where I am getting the training that has helped me hone my skills and prepare me for the next steps. Learning from highly regarded faculty and being amongst like-minded colleagues has been an experience of a lifetime.
I feel truly humbled by the opportunities I have got, and to me, all three are like parts of one puzzle, while different, each one is integral to completing the picture.
Dr. Sadrkhani: Five months to graduation from Columbia endodontic residency — how was residency during COVID?
Dr. Kanodia: Honestly, residency has been a unique experience especially with the background of a global pandemic. NYC was hit pretty hard, but I would like to commend the administration and faculty at Columbia University CDM (and, I’m sure, many more across the country) for responding effectively and providing a safe environment for both the doctors and patients. It was definitely challenging to adapt to the “new normal”. But with support from faculty and the best co-residents I could’ve had, the spirit that “We’re all in this together” ultimately helped us through.
Dr. Sadrkhani: I know you practice a traditional Indian dance form, and also paint in your free time. Tell us more about that.
Dr. Kanodia: Yes, I am trained in the dance form of “Bharatnatyam”. It involves precise symmetrical movements along straight lines or triangles, and storytelling through gestures and facial expressions. I have trained for it since I was six. It has brought a lot of discipline to my life, and is a great outlet to relieve stress. Although, the past few years have not given me enough time for it as I would like, I look forward to getting back to it.
Painting on the other hand is a fairly new interest. I picked it up at the start of the pandemic when there was a lot of chaos and uncertainty as we prepared to transition into the current state. Painting has been a calming activity that helped me stay positive throughout. I mainly prefer using water color as my medium, but I like to experiment with different styles as well. There is something innately pleasant about seeing something you created, and also helps keep my dexterity up.
Dr. Sadrkhani: What’s next?
Dr. Kanodia: Currently I’m focusing on my residency and gathering valuable insights. I aim at being able to provide the highest quality of dental care, and will continue working towards it, and I’m excited to see where my path will lead me.
Dr. Sadrkhani: Any last words for our readers?
Dr. Kanodia: I would like to thank you, the reader, for reading this. I am grateful to be a part of this community and have met wonderful colleagues along the way. I am glad to be sharing my journey with you.
Overall, it has been a rather fulfilling experience, and I hope you have the same for yourself.