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Life & Work with Dr. Nalini Ramlochan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Nalini Ramlochan.

Hi Dr. Ramlochan, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was born and raised in the small, lovely island of Trinidad and Tobago until I was 15 years old. In the pursuit of a promising future, my parents migrated to the United States to afford us teenagers a shot at the American dream. My mom then went back to school in her 40s and toiled away to become a nurse here in Florida. Her journey was inspiring and validated what my parents always preached- education. Watching my parents surrender everything they knew back home just for us instilled in me the important value of sacrifice. I believe it is this early understanding of sacrifice that fueled my success.

Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to be but I always craved independence. From my parents’ example, I understood the need to sacrifice initially to achieve long-term goals. I also felt a strong need to thank my parents for all of their sacrifices by being successful. After high school, I did not know what I wanted to be so I enrolled in a General Associate’s Degree, where I discovered my love for science. All my friends in my science classes were aspiring pharmacists, so I headed down the same path. I pursued a Pre-Medical Health Sciences Bachelor’s Degree while applying to pharmacy school. Upon applying, I shadowed a hospital pharmacist and realized that I didn’t love the profession as much as I had hoped I would. I consulted with my dad, who reminded me that the goal in life is happiness; he urged me to keep shadowing other professions until I found something I was passionate about.

It was then that I shadowed a dentist, Dr. David Akkara. I remember being mesmerized by the hands-on nature of the profession; the fulfillment factor from being able to actually help patients was the cherry on top! Being able to instill confidence in people through rejuvenating their smiles was a superpower I found myself yearning for. I finally found my passion! I was elated but then soon was conflicted with a tough decision. I had received an acceptance letter to Nova’s pharmacy school. Do I give up a guaranteed acceptance and a shot at a doctorate degree with a lucrative future or do I gamble it away to chase the very competitive dental degree which was my true passion? What if I don’t get accepted to dental school? It was not an easy decision by any means but I remembered my dad’s words and decided to decline the pharmacy school acceptance and work even harder to gain acceptance to dental school. I almost regretted the decision when I did not get into dental school the first time I applied. I was devastated and thought for sure I made the wrong decision. I then remembered why I chose dentistry in the first place. It was something that I loved. It was something that I was passionate about. It was something worth fighting hard for. I buckled down even further, started a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences, retook the dental admissions test and reapplied. I got in! It was all worth it! Fast forward almost six years from that- I am now a licensed dentist practicing at a private practice near UCF. I was able to gift my father a brand new car which he desperately needed and undeniably deserved! Dentistry has opened up many opportunities for me and I know there are more opportunities to come as I have aspirations of owning my own practice in the near future. What I have learned is that you only ultimately fail when you stop trying. It’s okay to fall as long as you keep getting back up!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has certainly not been a smooth road and I know that there will be more obstacles along the path ahead. My first struggle was fitting in at the foreign country that I now call home. Schools and parents were vastly more strict in Trinidad. There was a level of culture shock that I had to overcome. I focused heavily on my academics to fill the void of missing my family and friends back home. Then, once I made new friends the struggle teetered; I had to sacrifice many social parties and outings to study in undergrad. In the medical field, it wasn’t good enough to just pass a class. I had a GPA to preserve which often meant staying home on nights and weekends to study and strive for As. This is where that core value of sacrifice came into play.

One of my biggest struggles came towards the end of my undergraduate studies, where I was faced with the dilemma of choosing between accepting admission to a pharmacy school that would solidify a stable career or to decline the guaranteed acceptance and chase my newfound passion of becoming a dentist. I decided on the latter. I surrendered my pharmacy school admission and applied to dental school only to be rejected! I was devastated and started regretting my decision. It was a challenge for me. I worked incredibly hard, invested a great ordeal of time and money fulfilling the applications’ requirements, all for nothing. What do I do now? Reapply to pharmacy school? Will they even consider me again after I declined their acceptance the first time around? Should I just give up on the whole thing and instead climb the ladder at the bank where I worked part-time as a teller? That’s when I reminded myself that banking was not my passion and neither was a pharmacy. I decided to swallow the rejection, work even harder, pursue a master’s degree, retake the dental admission test and reapply to dental school. If it truly is my passion, it’s worth fighting for!

After loads of hard work and determination, I finally got accepted into Lake Eerie College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Dental Medicine! It was a dream come true! In hindsight, I am frenetically grateful that I did not give up on my dream when times got hard and the path looked grim. After that, whenever my dental school curriculum seemed tough, I always reminded myself of what I went through to get to that point and demolishing whatever the obstacle was became executable. Now as a practicing Associate dentist, struggles still arise but in different forms. I understand that that is the nature of life and it is all part of growing. I am far from finished as I have high aspirations of practicing ownership and touching many peoples’ lives. With that, I acknowledge that challenges will always surface, but overcoming them is what makes us stronger.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I launched my career in the corporate dentistry world as an Associate Dentist, where I built my foundation. I then transitioned to a beautiful private practice near the University of Central Florida called Strategic Dental Care, where I currently practice. As a general dentistry practice, instead of specializing in any one particular procedure, we offer an array of dental services. I perform everything from fillings, crowns, bridges, whitening, root canals, extractions, dentures and clear aligners. The practice owner/my mentor, Dr. Tayal, even offers dental implants- a terrific solution to replacing missing teeth. What we are known for is our service.

Patients are always our number one priority which is reflected in our outstanding google reviews. We understand that most people harbor fear and anxiety associated with dental visits, so we do our utmost best to ease their worries and strive for a fun and pleasant patient experience. I am most proud of being able to restore my patients’ smiles and confidence. It is a large reason why dentistry appealed to me in the first place. The most rewarding part of my career is when I am able to take a patient who doesn’t even remember how to smile with their teeth showing and transform them into someone who cannot stop grinning. That satisfaction is unparalleled! Something I pride myself on is my integrity. It is a core value that was instilled in me growing up and it helped mold me into the dentist I am today. I always try to put my best foot forward when treating my patients. I want them to know how much I appreciate their trust in me. For me, the biggest compliment is when my patients refer their loved ones to me. It validates their trust in me and I always do my best to honor that trust.

What does success mean to you?
Success is a multitude of factors. It is a compilation of work-life balance, freedom and happiness… but most importantly, I think true success is the ability to make a difference in the world. This is why I love my career; because it affords me the opportunity to attain all of those things, thereby attaining success. I aspire to inspire; leaving my mark on the world is my ultimate mission and I hope that mark will be in the shape of a smile.


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