June 4, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Naveed Sadiq became a dentist so he could help people who have lost their teeth—people like his grandmother and others who live in rural villages throughout his native Pakistan. During his dental residency, Sadiq learned that many of these individuals had misconceptions. Rural residents assumed that if their parents didn’t have teeth at 40 years of age, it was normal for they themselves to lose most or all of their teeth by middle age. He couldn’t understand why they didn’t follow his practical advice, which was backed by his clinical training. “Was it purely a misconception problem?” he wondered. “Was it an access problem and the patient didn’t want to travel from a rural village to an urban town?”
Sadiq joined a master of public health program to find the answers. Then he applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his PhD. “I wanted to quench my thirst for learning more about public health,” he says. “Specifically, I wanted to observe the systems of developed countries—how they address the problems and how they solve them.”
As a Fulbright Scholar, Sadiq was matched with the Arnold School of Public Health. He joined the “wonderful, skillful and competent faculty of the University of South Carolina” in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management. Scheduled to graduate in August, Sadiq plans to return to Pakistan where he will join a university and start a doctoral program. “I want to train students to conduct research and optimize the healthcare system by providing solutions that are tailored to local needs and culturally appropriate,” he says.
And they will be lucky to have him. Sadiq’s most recent accomplishment is winning the Public Health Outstanding Student Abstract Award from the S.C. Institute of Medicine and Public Health at the annual meeting of the S.C. Public Health Association. Because income is often inaccurately reported among adults, his study (Home Ownership Status as a predictor of SES for Assessing Dental Caries Status & Dental Restoration) aimed to determine if home ownership status could be used as a proxy indicator for socioeconomic status in studies related to oral health.
Together with Professor Janice Probst, Sadiq found that home ownership was not associated with dental caries prevalence, but they did find that home owners were more likely to have had prior treatment for dental caries. As his mentor, Probst has played a profound role in Sadiq’s professional development. “She has been very patient with me throughout my career, providing guidance at every step,” he says. “She engaged me in various research activities in order to polish my skills as a researcher and as an academician, and I feel so lucky to have a mentor like Dr. Probst.”
Sadiq’s commitment to public health, oral health in particular, is evidenced by his other accomplishments and activities as well. He has served on the Oral Health Section board of the American Public Health Association as a liaison to Student Assembly and currently serves as an abstract reviewer and Student Assembly liaison for the Health Administration Section. Sadiq also co-founded and served as president for the Fulbright Student Association at USC, raised funds for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and directed patients in triage along with assisting dentists in a clinical setting for S.C. Midlands Mission. As a member of Thinking Globally, a community program run by USC’s International Student Services, he has educated university, elementary, middle and high school students on culture and diversity. The chair for the student section of the S.C. Public Health Association as well, Sadiq recommends getting involved in public health organizations to learn through first-hand experience and from skilled veterans. “We are public health, and we take actions to make health happen,” he says.
Sadiq is grateful for the experiences and the education he has received during his tenure in the United States and particularly at the Arnold School. “America is all about thinking differently to lead to great achievements—think on a broad scale, selflessly, out of the box and do the best you can,” he says. “The seed that you are going to sow today might not produce for you now but will bear fruits for the coming generations.”