The medical field, now more than ever, is characterized by rapid advancements in technology and treatment methodologies. It demands not only a robust foundational knowledge but also the flexibility to adapt to new challenges and innovations. In this context, professionals like Dr. Md. Asikul Wadud shine brightly, showcasing an ability to evolve with the industry while maintaining a steadfast commitment to patient care and outcomes.
Dr. Md. Asikul Wadud’s career trajectory is a remarkable narrative of resilience and dedication. Initially set on a path to specialize in orthodontics, a field focused on correcting irregularities of the teeth and jaw, Wadud experienced a pivotal shift during his internship. He realized his profound interest in prosthodontics, a specialty that not only aligns with esthetic dental solutions but also addresses complex cases involving facial and dental reconstructions. This shift was driven by his deep desire to make immediate and visible improvements in patient aesthetics, reflecting his empathy and commitment to enhancing people’s lives.
His journey, however, was not without its challenges. Faced with initial rejection from the prosthodontics department due to deficiencies in his lab work, Wadud did not falter. Instead, he embraced this setback as a catalyst for growth. With determination and support from his family, he honed his skills and reapplied, eventually gaining admission and specializing in maxillofacial prosthodontics. This resilience and perseverance are hallmarks of his character, underscoring his unwavering commitment to his chosen field.
In our exclusive interview with Dr. Md. Asikul Wadud, he shared insights into his professional narrative, revealing a compelling tale of adaptability, resilience, and dedicated pursuit of a specialty where he could make the most significant impact. His story is not just about professional achievements; it’s a journey of personal growth and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Dr. Md. Asikul Wadud’s narrative is inspiring for anyone in the medical field, demonstrating that with passion, resilience, and a patient-centric approach, one can not only achieve professional excellence but also make a profound impact on the lives of those they serve.
It’s great to have you here, Dr. Wadud. Let’s dive right in! What led to your switch from orthodontics to prosthodontics during your internship? What specific experiences or revelations led to this significant change in your career path?
During my internship, I came to realize that people are more concerned about their aesthetic appearance and beautiful smile. In the field of dentistry, orthodontics and prosthodontics are the two major areas that focus on aesthetic appearance and smile design. Initially, I chose orthodontics but soon realized that the results can take a couple of years, and this varies from case to case. Therefore, I would have to wait a long time for the final result and the patient’s satisfying smile.
Then, I began exploring the fascinating areas of prosthodontics. I discovered that prosthodontics not only works on aesthetics and smile design but also addresses defect cases, helping to reintegrate these patients into society.
Facing rejection from the prosthodontics department initially must have been challenging. Can you describe the emotions you felt during this time, and what kept you motivated to persevere and reapply?
From Thailand to my country, the educational system and examination process are unique. It was always on my mind, but I still wanted to succeed in my first attempt. When I was rejected from the prosthodontics department, it was very difficult for me to stay positive for the next attempt. I felt so discouraged and low at that time. However, my family and my wife gave me strength and hope. They made me feel positive about sitting for another exam.
I have been a blessed student because, after seeing my determination and commitment to higher education in prosthodontics, the Chair of the Department of Prosthodontics helped me immensely in improving my clinical skills. She guided me through an email a week, where I had to submit all my photos on the typodont. She guided me to get better for the next entrance exam at Mahidol University of Thailand for almost a year.
What strategies or mindset shifts did you employ to turn your initial setback into a stepping stone for success in maxillofacial prosthodontics?
During my preparation for prosthodontics, I also became acquainted with maxillofacial prosthodontics. It’s a branch of prosthodontics that deals with both intraoral and extra-oral cases, whereas pure prosthodontics focuses only on intraoral cases. As a maxillofacial prosthodontist, I can assist people who are marginalized in society due to facial appearances resulting from accidents, cancer, or congenital defects.
Through maxillofacial prosthodontics, I can help them be accepted again in society. I found more challenges in this field than in prosthodontics. Although I initially had a chance in prosthodontics, there wasn’t enough room to accommodate me at my second opportunity. With the support of our Prosthodontics Chair, I was able to enter the maxillofacial prosthodontics department.
Can you share a particularly memorable experience where you felt your work significantly improved a patient’s aesthetics and, consequently, their quality of life?
Maxillofacial prosthodontics is more than creating aesthetics; it’s also a way of enhancing the quality of life. In my career, I encountered a patient suffering from speech problems after undergoing an operation for carcinoma of the soft palate. She underwent surgery in her thirties. After the operation, her life changed completely due to the defect in her soft palate and difficulty with speech. She lost her confidence and became very negative about life. I had the opportunity to fabricate a speech aid prosthesis for her and tried to reestablish her speech and help her return to her normal life. The outcome of the speech aid prosthesis was very well-received and accurate, so I published the case, and it was accepted. She became very happy and returned to her usual life. The patient’s smile is something I cannot forget. I always receive a positive feeling about my work from her smile.
Throughout your journey of overcoming obstacles, how did you build and maintain resilience? Are there any routines or beliefs that you attribute to your ability to bounce back stronger?
Becoming a maxillofacial prosthodontist wasn’t easy. It has been a very difficult journey. I had to transition from being a general dentist to specializing in maxillofacial prosthodontics. This meant adapting to new surroundings, cultures, food, and a new education system all at once. Since it was a clinical course, I had to learn Thai to work effectively in a clinic with Thai patients, ensuring they were comfortable with me. Additionally, I had to work in the lab creating prostheses after my clinical work. My schedule was filled with weekly seminars, assignments, and various tasks. Managing all these was challenging, but I’ve always been comfortable with challenges. I achieved success by fulfilling all the requirements on time. My days would start at dawn, and I would work 14 hours a day to complete everything.
How did your vision for your career and the impact you wanted to make in patient’s lives evolve as you transitioned from general dentistry to a more specialized field?
As a general dentist, my desire was to serve patients and provide comfort for their problems. However, my desire changed when I became a maxillofacial prosthodontist. I want to bring people with defects back into society by providing them with a proper appearance through prosthesis, counseling, and comfort. I’ve worked on numerous prosthetic cases, including ocular, orbital, auricular, finger, full hand, and intraoral defects, helping these individuals reintegrate into society with pride and emotion. The satisfaction of these previously unhappy patients and their gratitude are always with me, which is incredibly encouraging and motivates me to continue in my work.
What advice would you give to students or young professionals who face setbacks or rejections in their chosen field? How can they identify and pursue the specialty that truly resonates with their passion and skillset?
My advice to students and young professionals is to always believe in the Almighty first, and then in yourself. Remember, nothing is impossible if you have belief in yourself. The Almighty has planned everything, but you can shape your future with your hard work, dedication, and strong belief in Him. So, be strong, dedicated, positive, and punctual in your field of work. For those wanting to pursue a specialty career, first, identify your interests and assess yourself to determine your level of competence. Explore various career paths and develop a career plan that aligns with your capabilities.
Looking back on your journey, how do you think the challenges you faced and overcame have shaped you as a professional and as a person today? What key lessons have you learned that you carry with you in your practice and life?
It is of utmost importance that I focus on myself rather than what anybody else is doing. Everyone’s life journey is unique, and we must strive to create our own path, not follow someone else’s. We would find nothing but frustration and disappointment if we keep comparing ourselves to others. Therefore, it’s better to focus on our own progress and development. I’ve faced a lot of criticism from my friends and colleagues when I decided to become a maxillofacial prosthodontist. I was criticized because this special field is not well-known in my country. I have taken all this criticism as positive feedback because I know more about my future field than these people do, and I also understand the opportunities that await me. The challenges and criticism I faced during my course made me resilient in facing hardships. I’ve taken every opportunity to chase my dream. My dream is to serve more unfortunate people with their defects, helping them return to their normal life with a happy smile.
Dr. Md. Asikul Wadud’s journey from orthodontics to maxillofacial prosthodontics is a testament to the power of resilience, adaptability, and a deep-seated desire to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. His story is a vivid illustration of how challenges, when embraced as opportunities for growth, can lead to profound professional and personal development. Dr. Wadud’s commitment to his specialty goes beyond technical expertise; it’s about restoring hope, dignity, and joy to those who have been marginalized due to physical anomalies.
His journey is an inspiring reminder that in the field of medicine, and indeed in life, the pursuit of one’s passion, underpinned by hard work and perseverance, can lead to extraordinary achievements and the ability to profoundly impact lives. As Dr. Wadud continues to shape smiles and lives, he stands as a beacon of inspiration for current and aspiring medical professionals, embodying the ethos that at the heart of healthcare is the will to serve and transform lives.