Perseverance and Perspective: An Interview with Dr. Amel Hassan, DDS, FICOI

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Issue 156, Issues | 0 comments

For the past eight years, Dr. Amel Hassan, DDS, FICOI, has practiced dentistry in Florida and Illinois. Her focus is restorative and cosmetic dentistry, including full and partial mouth...

For the past eight years, Dr. Amel Hassan, DDS, FICOI, has practiced dentistry in Florida and Illinois. Her focus is restorative and cosmetic dentistry, including full and partial mouth extractions as well as cosmetic procedures, prosthetics and implants. She often works with patients needing full mouth reconstruction. 

Dr. Hassan finds joy in helping her patients understand their treatment options and make informed decisions, giving them an improved quality of life and restoring optimal health and comfort.  

Dr. Hassan is the owner and manager of her dental practice, Affordable Dentures & Implants in Florida, and has a string of successful startup dental practices in her background. 

More importantly, Dr. Hassan provides her patients with the highest quality, affordable care. She has a long list of notable career achievements. For example, she was #1 implant placing provider in her first six months, opening a Denovo (brand new) practice in an organization network of over 375 practices in different states.

She is a recipient of the prestigious ‘Dr. Bernard E. Rudner’ Memorial Award, which she earned for “superior performance in providing oral comprehensive care and administering a dental practice.” She has memberships in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, the Academy of General Dentistry and the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society.

And she had to complete dental school twice. 

Starting Over to Move Forward

“The first time I graduated from dental school was in 2004 back home in Sudan,” she shared.

When Dr. Hassan came to the United States in 2007, her credentials were not recognized, and she could not be licensed to practice. She had no choice but to go back to dental school and do it all over again. 

“That was not easy for me to take in and to accept,” she said. “To be honest, it was a big struggle. But I said, yes, I’ll do it again. I am not giving up on this. So I applied to the schools here. Dental schools here are very competitive.”

Having graduated overseas, she had to go into an advanced placement program, which consisted of a challenging test. And there was also the challenge of moving to a new country. 

“There was the culture shock — new culture, new language, new everything. It was depressing because you think you just graduated and you’re ready to practice. But here we go, back to it again. It was shocking for me, but I did apply to dental schools,” she explained.

 Dr. Hassan had to take several exams, and she sometimes even questioned why she went into dentistry. 

“I had to go through not fitting in and getting rejected from this or that school. But I finally got accepted at NYU, which is one of the best schools in the country,” she shared. 

A Silver Lining in Rejection

“I want to also give credit to the school that rejected me, Chicago Dental School,” Dr. Hassan added.

This school sent Dr. Hassan what she calls “a very nice rejection letter,” so named because they took the time to explain why they rejected her application. 

“That’s what I was looking for,” she explained. “I took that rejection letter and twisted it around. I don’t take things for granted. I always see the opportunity inside rejections and disappointments.”

This rejection letter gave her the information she needed to create a specific plan to get back to practicing her profession. It said that she didn’t have research experience, a master’s degree, volunteer experience or a high enough TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) score.

“So I took that list one by one. I volunteered with the American Red Cross. I joined Illinois University for a Master of Public Health degree to prove that I could integrate into the American educational system. I retook the TOEFL test and improved my score. And I worked as a dental assistant to stay around the dental field and show that I am willing to step down to go a step higher,” she shared.

Dr. Hassan is grateful to both NYU and the school that rejected her.

“I am grateful even more to the one that let me down because that was an opportunity for me to grow. The struggle was necessary. You cannot grow or get a better version of yourself without going through a struggle,” she explained.

Juggling Everything and Succeeding

Accepted by NYU, Dr. Hassan persevered through more challenges, such as her family in another country, being a mother to a small child (and temporarily sending him to live overseas) and adjusting to life in New York City.

“My dream was to be a dentist in the U.S. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. My next dream was to add implant skills. So, I left a job I loved to go where I could learn that,” she shared.

Dr. Hassan achieved that dream and more. 

“Sometimes we think our dream is too big. But I never settle. You reach the level that you set for yourself. And you grow and change the way you think about life and how you value things,” she explained.

Now here she is with a successful practice in Florida.

“We were one of the top offices — always among the top five in revenue and production. And it was only me. As a solo practice owner, it was rewarding,” she shared.

She’s also a recent Harvard Medical School for Safety, Quality, Informatics & Leadership (SQIL) graduate. Joining Harvard was another dream that she was able to check on her list. Her first application was rejected in 2018, reapplied and was accepted in 2020.

Dr. Hassan also takes time to give back. 

“The Implant Pathway, one of the nation’s leading implant training centers, invited me to be a mentor. So now I’m not only giving back to my patients, but also to other doctors,” she added. 

The secret to her success is loving what she does. 

“It’s like making a living while you’re doing your hobby,” she concluded. “I’m really happy where I’m at right now. However, dreaming never ends, and achieving a dream draws the way to a new one.”

From Dr. Hassan’s view, by the time you’ve reached your destination, you have become a brand new, better person. And your journey shifts in the direction of pursuing the newest dream. It certainly worked for her.

Gaye Newton

Gaye Newton