Dr. Omari Sheehy D.D.S. – A Doctor Like You!

omariSpecialty: General Dentistry

Current Institution: Tampa Family Health Centers Inc.

Dental School: Meharry Medical College

Undergraduate: Hampton University

1) When did you decide you wanted to become a Dentist and what led to this decision?   I decided to become a dentist after I graduated from college. Throughout college I was a pre-med student and was not sure if I wanted to go to medical school. I had a close friend that was being accepted into Columbia dental school and was trying to convince me to give dentistry some consideration as a career choice. At first I was completely against even considering this option. Who wants to be in someone’s mouth all day? After some convincing, I found a local dentist that would allow me to shadow him. It was this experience that opened my eyes to dentistry and I was immediately drawn to the profession. I am truly thankful for my friend who pushed me to open my perspective on health care careers and the dentist who introduced me to dentistry.

2) What was the most difficult part of getting into Dental School for you?  Self-doubt! The most difficult part of getting into dental school was deciding in my own mind that dentistry was what I truly wanted to pursue and that I was capable of becoming a health care professional. I have talked to a lot of classmates and other dental / medical graduates. Surprisingly, many admit to some degree of self-doubt. I think this was the biggest hurdle for me. I had to completely commit myself to studying for the DAT and not allow anyone, in particularly myself, discourage me from achieving my goals.

3) How did you study for the DAT? How do you recommend students study for the DAT? I used Kaplan to study for the DAT. I think this was a great help in narrowing the information for me. I would recommend using study materials like Kaplan to study for the exam. The DAT doesn’t test the quality of care you will provide in your profession or your level of critical thinking. It tests your preparation and dedication. So dedicate yourself to studying for the test and ace it!

4) What did you do during your undergraduate summers? It is important to have good summer internship experiences. I personally was involved in two great experiences. The first was the SMEP program at Duke University. This program, in the summer after my freshman year,  gave me a great introduction into the medical field. It was a well structured program that introduced undergraduates to the many areas and specialties in medicine. The second program was a research program at the Harvard University School of Public Health. In this program I was paired with a lab and given a research project to complete before the summer ended. Admissions committees look for these types of experiences on your application. I would recommend applying to programs and trying to fill your summers with these types of experiences instead of looking for summer jobs like many people do. Many programs will provide a stipend that supplies housing and food for the summer. Programs such as these are critical in forming a well rounded resume for the admissions process. 

5) What is one thing you wish someone told you while you were in college? I wish I had more information on the many different career opportunities available in health care. Health care is an immense field with many different specialties. I think many undergraduates have a noble desire to become a “doctor” in a general sense. Well, what kind of doctor? There are numerous specialties and sub-specialties in health care. Knowing more about these will give you a better idea of what aspect of health care fits you.

6) What led you to choose your current specialty? I chose my current specialty because dentistry offers me the balance between artistry and medicine. I love improving patient’s smiles and solving their dental issues. This balance was very important to me as well as having a healthy balance between my life at work and my life outside of work.

7) What is one thing that a mentor did for you which has had a lifelong effect on your career? My mentor was a huge proponent of having balance in your life. Even if you love what you do for your job you cannot let it consume your entire life. Relationships matter and they also take hard work and dedication to maintain. In all things I seek balance and I thank my mentor for showing me this.

8) Briefly describe your average work day. My average work day begins at 8:00 am. I start by reviewing my schedule and making sure we are prepared to start the day. I usually see on average 15 patients per day. This ranges from procedures involving root canal therapy, extractions, to basic fillings and exams. My morning session is from 8-12 with a 1 hour lunch. The afternoon session starts at 1 and ends at 5.

9) What do you enjoy most about your profession? What do you enjoy least? The thing I enjoy the most about my profession is the flexibility in my schedule. I don’t have to be on call and I don’t work on weekends. I do not mention “helping people” as something I enjoy most about my profession because, in my opinion, benevolence comes with the job description. If you do not get satisfaction from helping people; please do yourself a favor and find another field of study. The thing I enjoy the least is dealing with insurance companies. Many dental plans do not cover a significant percentage of the patient’s financial burden of treatment. Furthermore they purposely make it difficult for providers to file claims. This is a source of great frustration to me. I went to dental school to practice dentistry not to navigate the intricacies of insurance coverage, but it is something I have to do.

10) What words of advice would you like to leave with pre-dental and pre-medical students? The  best advice I can give pre-medical students is to have self confidence and never give up on your dreams. If you want to become a health care provider; put in the time and work to achieve that goal. Get some experience in the field that you are interested in. Reach out to people that have already traveled the road that you aspire to one day embark, so that you can have a better idea of what life is really like in that profession. You may find that it is not what you thought or it might reaffirm your decision to pursue that particular profession. Lastly,  I would say remain optimistic and do not allow negativity of any form to derail your goals.