Captain Sara Rosen, DDS, Reporting for Duty

Touro College of Dental Medicine Alumna Sara Rosen to Become an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at the Tripler Army Medical Center

November 21, 2023
Sara Rosen
Captain Sara Rosen, DDS.

Sara Rosen, DDS, recalls the moment when she realized she wanted to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. It was during her general practice residency (GPR) at Monmouth Medical Center.

“I had a lot of surgical opportunities during my GPR,” related Dr. Rosen, a 2021 graduate of Touro College of Dental Medicine and president of the school’s second class of graduates. “I was assisting during a facial reconstruction case in the operating room and we were working on a patient with special needs who had some very complex craniofacial deformity. She had suffered serious child abuse and was helpless. She couldn’t speak so we needed to figure out how to help her. I knew then I was going to pursue oral and maxillofacial surgery. No one should have had to suffer like this poor girl.”

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a notoriously rigorous and difficult profession, but Dr. Rosen’s friendly demeanor masks hard-driving determination and an almost steel will. Dr. Rosen credits some of her persistence to her first love: ballet. She spent twenty years as a competitive ballerina before opting to pursue psychology and pre-med studies while a student at Rutgers University.

“I realized that no matter how good of a ballerina I was, my career shelf-life would be quite short,” said Dr. Rosen. “I would probably be somewhat retired by now.”

Dr. Rosen considered pursuing medicine like her father, an internal medicine & infectious disease specialist, but decided on dentistry after working with him.

“I was helping in my father’s practice, and I met with one of his patients who suffered from a heart valve infection caused by periodontal disease,” recalled Dr. Rosen. “Until then, I didn’t realize how much your oral health can affect your systematic health. That ultimately translated for me into pursuing dentistry.”

With a stellar GPA and DAT score, Dr. Rosen had her pick of dental schools. But she chose Touro.

“My father is an alumnus of Touro University’s New York Medical College,” she said. “When I interviewed at Touro it felt like home.”

Dr. Rosen quickly became a star as a member of Touro College of Dental Medicine’s second class and served as the class president. She formed close relationships with her peers and her professors.

“Our clinical education was outstanding, especially in how it transitioned to residency and practice,” said Dr. Rosen. “I felt a lot more prepared than my peers.”

Halfway through her GPR, she applied for an internship in oral and maxillofacial facial surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. While at Montefiore, Dr. Rosen decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of joining the military and she applied for an oral and maxillofacial surgery residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. “My family is very patriotic, and several relatives have served,” she said. As part of her commission, she enters the military as a captain. She will be training in residency for four years and will then work as a military surgeon for another four. Currently, she is in an officer commissioning course in Oklahoma. After another nine-week basic officer learning course, she will report for duty at Tripler.

As for future dental students, Dr. Rosen had the following advice:

“Try to get as much experience as you can in each specialty,” she said. “You might experience something that will make you want to change the path you’re on, and experience in each specialty will make you a better practitioner. Get to know your professors because they’re ultimately the ones investing in your future and will be there supporting you along the ride. Stay active and have some good friends by your side.”