On June 5, Kerolos Elsayed was focused on one thing: defending his thesis, the culmination of his studies and experience in the endodontics program at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
Moments before, Chair of the Department of Endodontics Andre Mickel shared some exciting news: Elsayed achieved the highest score on the Endolit final exam nationwide.
“I was a little bit surprised, I was not expecting to get the top score,” said Elsayed. “That was a pretty good boost to my morale before my thesis defense, which is not the easiest.”
Given the shift to remote learning in the spring, the exam, sponsored by Endolit, was offered to all graduating endodontic residents across the country in preparation for the American Board of Endodontics written exam. In order to become board certified, endodontists must complete three different types of examinations: written, case history and oral.
While board certification is not required, the university’s endodontic program is continuing its 22-year tradition of 100% of residents passing the exam. For reference, less than 25% of endodontists are board certified.
Elsayed’s colleagues joined him in the top 20 highest scores on the preparatory exam, with Jennifer Barrord ranking No. 5, Alexis Herring ranking No. 10 and Jenna Gaw ranking No. 16.
Even though there is not a specific timeline required for completing all three certification steps, Elsayed’s goal is to become board certified within the year—something he expects will be a difficult but doable feat.
“[Kerolos Elsayed] is like a son and a brother to me,” said Mickel. “He and his fellow residents worked hard from the beginning to the end. I am so proud to call him my respected colleague and know that he and his fellow graduates will be the best endodontists, wherever they are.”
Path to success
Growing up in Egypt, Elsayed knew he wanted to pave his own way. His father was a pharmacist, and he encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps. However, Elsayed had something else in mind.
“[My father] wanted me to be a pharmacist like him. But being myself, I wanted to do something different. Back then, I liked dentistry because you didn’t have to specialize, even though I ended up specializing anyway,” said Elsayed.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in dental surgery from Cairo University in Egypt, he moved to the United States in 2013. He went on to graduate from Boston University with a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and worked as a general dentist in Illinois.
When it came time to choose where he would specialize in endodontics, the decision was simple. A colleague, who was from Egypt as well, spoke very highly of the Case Western Reserve endodontics program and its chair, Mickel.
Elsayed graduated from the Endodontics Residency Program in July and is continuing his career at a private practice in North Carolina, with the hope of becoming a part-time educator as well.
“I think the most rewarding aspect of endodontics is getting people out of pain and retaining their natural teeth,” he said. “The cases we get are usually cases no one wants to touch because of the complexity. We are the last defense between people losing their teeth and keeping them.”
Learn more about Elsayed in this week’s five questions.
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Cleveland?
The restaurant right next to where I live, called Urban Kitchen & Deli. It is an Egyptian-themed restaurant right where I live and right next to school. I was eating the food I was used to back home and it was very conveniently located.
2. What’s the most difficult class you’ve ever taken?
The removable prosthodontics class at Boston University. I was never a big fan of dentures or prosthodontics and that process. I had to do a lot of studying to get a good grade and it was something I wasn’t enjoying studying.
3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you pick?
That’s a difficult question. I would honestly pick Los Angeles, because my family is there so I could be close to them.
4. What famous person–alive or deceased–would you most like to meet?
Herbert Schilder. He was an endodontist from Boston University. He was a pioneer in endodontics and one of the people who contributed a lot to the specialty. His principles still work today.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
It is a very inclusive place, especially in our program. Everyone, regardless of where you came from, had a chance to be in the program if you meet the criteria and if you’re willing to work hard enough.