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Resident Spotlight: Dr. Jessica Langella

Compiled by Dr. Moein Sadrkhani

Dr. Moein Sadrkhani: Dr. Langella, thank you for accepting our interview request. Tell us about yourself.

Dr. Jessica Langella: Thanks for inviting me to interview!  I am a second-year resident in Endodontics at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and received my DMD from Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 2019. I came into dentistry and endodontics late in the game—after majoring in studio art and art history in undergrad, I spent five years working as a fine arts consultant in Los Angeles.  My job involved onsite “fieldwork”, which meant examining various collections (fine arts, collectibles, antiques, wine cellars) that were damaged by fires or floods.  After deciding to change careers, I completed the post-baccalaureate premedical program at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., for my pre-dental coursework.

Dr. Sadrkhani: How was your experience in art world?

Dr. Langella: As a kid, I always said that I was going to be an artist when I grew up. Although I exhibited my own artwork occasionally, I’m a fairly pragmatic person and ultimately felt that the lifestyle wasn’t a good fit.  Certain aspects of training in the fine arts were excellent preparation for endodontics, such as working in three dimensions, critiquing your own work, and performing detailed-oriented tasks while maintaining a high level of focus.

Dr. Sadrkhani: Any favorite artists? 

Dr. Langella: After assisting on a research project on fractal geometry in the work of Jackson Pollock in undergrad, Pollock is a special favorite.

Dr. Sadrkhani: After all this life in art, what brought you to dentistry and endo? 

Dr. Langella: I was drawn to the “craftsmanship” of dentistry. I don’t have any dental professionals in my family, but I started shadowing at local practices and decided to pursue dentistry as a career.  I like that the procedures—and endodontic procedures in particular—combine skill and dexterity with a rational approach and framework.  It’s a really unique combination of art and science.  I see endodontics as a field where I can continue to be challenged and improve over time.

Dr. Sadrkhani: We got some of your sketches, they look wonderful, how did this start?

Dr. Langella: During the initial COVID shutdown last spring, I started sketching different scenes from quarantine.  PPE was being rationed, and my friends in medical professions were using various methods to protect and store their N95s for future use.  I started sketching their masks as a way to connect with them remotely (Zoom and FaceTime can only go so far!).  My intention was to make a drawing every day, but I only made it through a few weeks. “Spare time” is limited during residency.

Dr. Sadrkhani: Six months to graduation from Tufts’ endodontic residency program; how do you feel?

Dr. Langella: Time flies as a resident!  I’ve been doing some moonlighting, and I’m looking forward to taking the leap from academic to professional practice full time.

Dr. Sadrkhani: How was residency during COVID? 

Dr. Langella: It’s disappointing to miss out on “social” residency experiences like traveling to the AAE Annual meetings and the APICES conference.  I miss my friends in other endo residency programs (shoutout to Ty, Zhen, Christina and Tiffany). I became more involved in research during the pandemic, including a study on the emergency clinic at Tufts during COVID-19 that will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Endodontics.

Despite the challenges that the pandemic presented, I can’t say enough about the endodontics faculty at Tufts who worked tirelessly to ensure that our training was not compromised.  In particular, our department chair, Dr. Bob Amato, and program director, Dr. Elinor Alon, are incredible leaders and educators.

Dr. Sadrkhani: Any last words for our readers?

Dr. Langella: Good luck to everyone graduating in 2021!  The “COVID Class” is strong, resilient, and will do great things!

Check out some of Dr. Langella’s artwork below!

About the author: Dr. Moein Sadrkhani is chair of AAE’s Resident and New Practitioner Committee and is in private practice.