My First Time Shadowing


As most of you may know, ever since I was a wee little girl I wanted to do nothing but become a pharmacist. I even drew a future picture of Janet Nguyen PharmD in the sixth grade for a project assignment. Throughout high school, I was so confident that I wanted to pursue pharmaceuticals. I worked at a pharmacy, and I even had a prep-book for the pharmacy technician exam. I was just so sure of it, until one day it just hit me that it’s not what I saw myself doing. This was the beginning of college for me- clueless and lost.


Growing up, I was always so embarrassed of my teeth because they weren’t the prettiest or the straightest. I didn’t like smiling in front of the camera with my teeth showing, so if you look at all of my elementary school pictures, I can assure you that my mouth is always closed. I didn’t talk much in school either because I thought that students would look at my teeth and judge. It was a confidence issue for sure. It kept me away from a lot of opportunities. 

I always took care of my teeth because even if they weren’t straight, I wanted them to be at least white and clean! I love going to the dentist and getting my mouth poked and probed at. (I know, so rare.) I liked going to the dentist to get my teeth extracted. Yes, I know you’re probably thinking what is this girl. I’ve never had a cavity or a filling so that might be why I enjoy the dentist so much. I hear that fillings can be very painful. Hahaha. I took pride in the way I cleaned my teeth and my dentist would always make me feel so proud of my teeth. Just little interactions at the dental office twice a year really boosted my confidence. 

Then I got braces! My confidence at this point shot way up. I talked more, I laughed more, I smiled more. It was life-altering to be concise. It was one of the best experiences for me, and I’m so lucky to have gotten the chance to straighten out my teeth. I’m confident in who I am, and I just want others to have the same experience as well. In the back of my mind, dentistry/orthodontics was always something I saw myself doing but I never did anything to solidify this plan. 

At first I was very hesitant about telling my friends and family that I didn’t want to do pharmacy anymore because all my life that’s all I talked about. I was met with negativity when I first told some of them about my change in direction, but I didn’t let that discourage me. Heck, even when I went to shadow my own dentist, she scared the living soul out of me and advised me not to do it. Hahaha. (It’s funny because when I asked my doctor about becoming a doctor, she advised me to do dentistry and not MD. Odd, but true story.) If you truly know what you like to do or see yourself doing it in the future, just do it. There will always be people who try to advise you towards a  different path, but no one knows you like yourself.

I’m still young and who knows I may switch to something else in the far future. But that’s okay, life is all about creating yourself. You won’t be the same person you were 5 years ago. Things change, stuff happen. Don’t put an age or time frame to when you have to have things all figured out. (Okay, but that doesn’t mean don’t think about the future or be too carefree though! Everything has consequences.)

Going into summer, I knew that I wanted to shadow an orthodontist or a dentist at one point because I wanted to see if this was the right track for me to follow.

On a whim, I decided to reach out to Dr. Douglas near my hometown inquiring about the possibility of me coming in to shadow. Thankfully, he replied with a positive yes! I was so excited and thrilled to finally be able to see for myself the daily life of an orthodontist. To sum it up in one sentence…I have never felt so inspired and motivated before my summer-long experience at Dr. Douglas’ office. After my first day, Dr. Douglas had actually invited me to come in for the remainder of summer! I gladly accepted his offer.

The people I got to meet there and learned from were simply the best. They are the best group of people I have ever worked with. They’re so helpful, genuine, and welcoming. Ever since day one, I had already felt like I was a part of their office family. As the weeks flew by, I just couldn’t wait to come to the office every Thursday and Friday. Everyone was so positive and kind. Words truly cannot describe my experience here.

It was different from all of the other times I had to wake up for something. Every time I woke up on a Thursday or Friday, I would feel so pumped and excited to come into work. After a bad Wednesday or beginning of a week, I would always hope for Thursday/Friday to come quickly so that all hopes of happiness can be restored. Day by day, I realized that yes, this is something that makes me feel excited and genuinely happy.

I knew absolutely NOTHING when I came to shadow the first day. I didn’t even know what a shadowing day would turn out like. I had to read articles on what to do or what to expect, and I was still clueless. All I knew was that I was going to be watching someone and asking questions. Hahaha. Now that I’ve finished my time here, I can tell you that I have learned SO MUCH. The orthodontists and staff at Dr. Douglas’ office were so helpful and they really took time to explain to me all sorts of treatments and procedures they did. I got to see how an independent business was managed and the importance of teamwork.

I really advise shadowing someone if you’re even just a bit curious about what they do!

Dr. Douglas and his wonderful staff have treated me so well this summer and I can never find the words to thank them enough. If you’re ever interested in getting braces or Invisalign, consult with Dr. Douglas (if you’re in the OC area!). He is simply amazing at what he does and he truly cares for each and every one of his patient. I’ve had friends who went to him for braces, and they had a great experience there! It’s so important to find the right doctor that will ensure you the best treatment plan. I’ve never met anyone so kind and generous as Dr. Douglas, and I am NOT exaggerating! Plus, his staff is A1. They will really take care of you and ensure the highest patient comfort satisfaction.


Thao Janet

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