Serving During A Pandemic!


Shveta Duggal ASPID ’21


31 Jul 20

MOST OF MY — AND MY PARENTS’ — LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT SERVING OTHERS. In Indian Sikh culture, we call it Seva, which means “selfless service.”

Throughout the years of my volunteer experiences in the United States and abroad, I have mostly served children. People often ask me why service is so important to me. For me, there are two reasons. First, I think it is important to make other people experience the feeling of oneness among us all, which means not discrimination and giving everyone the same opportunities to grow and thrive. Second, it is the growth in my spirituality that keeps me grounded and aware of my actions. Children all around the world need dental care, and it is our role — even in these grave times — to come forward collectively and help them with their oral health needs.

I completed my dental degree and orthodontic residency training back in India. Since 2015, I have been volunteering at the non-profit, Kids Community Dental Clinic, a Burbank-based clinic that serves low-income children from across Southern California. Once the clinic was able to open after the initial shutdown, it was experiencing staffing shortages, and there was a high demand for dental care among underserved children. 

So, since I was already a registered dental assistant, I decided to go back to help dentists, pediatric dentists and orthodontists treat patients for various dental procedures. While some children were compliant, there were children with excruciating pain who could not cooperate and needed conscious sedation for their severe oral health conditions. 

Working during the pandemic made me conscious of my role in teamwork and delivering a successful treatment for these children in a safe environment. Beyond dentistry, this clinic has given me a great platform to interact and learn behavior management techniques with children — all of which has motivated me to continue my passion in serving children for all these years.

shveta duggal in a clinical space
Photo: Armando Rodriguez

I have missed Ostrow and am super excited to go back and work. But I am glad that I was not away from dentistry and was contributing my bit to the people who needed the most. I know it is difficult to work with a focused mind during these times. I feel there are endless opportunities out there that we can learn from. There is no mundane task. Wherever we go, whatever we do and whoever we are with, it is important to contribute and learn or even re-learn from it.

All of this not only makes you a better clinician, it also allows you to become a well-rounded person. I am so lucky to be a part of the ASPID DDS 2021 class at Ostrow. I thank all my mentors at Ostrow for instilling in us knowledge, passion, integrity, service and commitment to serve others. 

Also, I can’t wait to go back next year and work as a licensed dentist to help children with their oral health needs.

Fight On!

Recent news