Dugoni School Student Helps Others Through Organized Dentistry

Patrick Gomez

“Leadership has always been in an important part of my life and I wanted to help my fellow classmates learn and grow.”

You could say that Patrick Gomez, DDS Class of 2022, was born to be a dentist. After all, he is part of the fourth generation in his family to pursue dentistry and the fourth person to graduate from the Dugoni School of Dentistry – his dad, aunt and cousin are all alumni.

Growing up in his dad’s dental office, Patrick saw firsthand the interactions between dentist and patient. Witnessing the communication, trust and relationships built over time motivated him to pursue a career in the dental field. Now in his second year at the Dugoni School, Patrick has begun seeing patients and couldn’t be happier about his decision. “Working in the clinic and providing care for my patients has really opened my eyes to the fact that I made the right choice,” he says.

His education is being funded by a US Navy scholarship which also provides him a stipend. He is happy that he can put himself through dental school without having to lean on his parents for financial help. Upon graduation, he has committed to active-duty service for three years with the Navy. While he’s serving in his active duty obligation, Patrick will have the opportunity to hone his skills and prepare for possible additional education and training. He is very interested in oral surgery and pleased to note that the Navy has three programs in this field.

 For Patrick, the most rewarding part of dentistry has been helping others, whether it’s his patients or his fellow classmates. It is the reason he decided to become involved in organized dentistry. “Leadership has always been in an important part of my life and I wanted to help my fellow classmates learn and grow,” says Patrick. 

He is currently the outgoing Pacific chapter president of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) and is involved on the district level as Member at Large. What drew him to ASDA was the advocacy efforts of the organization, not only on the district and national levels, but also on the local level. Patrick wanted to support professional and personal development of other dental students while making an impact on dental healthcare in his community.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick has had to be creative in finding ways to plan events. For students who started school during the pandemic, virtual learning was not fostering the close bonds with their classmates that in-person learning makes possible. Working with the ASDA events committee, his organization put together an event called “Peas in a Pod” which was for first-year students to get to know members in their “pods” — the students who sat around them in the simulation lab.

Another event he helped put together was a business symposium, a collaborative effort with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The event, which typically includes a vendor fair and speakers that focus on the business side of dentistry, was moved to an online platform. More than 200 dental students registered for the event where speakers touched on topics including understanding employment agreements; managing debt and wealth; and practice management for all dentists.

“Aside from learning dentistry, being a part of ASDA has been the most rewarding experience so far,” says Patrick. “Not only do I get to be involved, but I’m doing so with my friends and like-minded people who want to advocate for change in our profession.”