Switching from TV reporter to dentist

Future dentist: Elizabeth Fanciullo left her television career for her real passion, dentistry. It is a passion reflected throughout her family.

Newark, N.J.—As a television reporter and producer, Elizabeth Fanciullo has covered the Kentucky Derby, two visits by President George W. Bush in southern Indiana, and flown in a B-17 bomber during an airshow.

“I enjoyed working in news,” Ms. Fanciullo said of what she thought was her dream job. “But I just didn’t feel the passion that I would want to do this for the rest of my life. There was something missing.”

About three years after she started her journalism career, Ms. Fanciullo made a change, enrolling into Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. In dentistry, she said, she has found that passion.

Ms. Fanciullo is one of a handful of soon-to-be graduates from Rutgers who have chosen dentistry as a second career. Other students include a former MTV producer, ski instructor, teachers and a fishing boat captain from Alaska.

In dentistry, Ms. Fanciullo said she’s come to enjoy the one-on-one interaction with patients—a much more personal connection for her than speaking to audiences from a camera.

“It’s an immediate tangible gratification that I couldn’t get before from journalism,” she said.

Making the switch from television to dentistry wasn’t a complete surprise for Ms. Fanciullo. In college, she initially was interested in the medical field, possibly sports medicine, until she decided on journalism.

In addition, many of her relatives are dentists, including her grandfather, great-grandfather and great uncle.

“I spoke to them and even shadowed my dentist to make sure this was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I really love the precision and art involved in the field.”

To make the change, Ms. Fanciullo juggled being a news reporter while taking one or two classes at a time to fulfill prerequisites to dental school, first at Indiana University then at the University of Illinois in Chicago and lastly, Baruch College in New York. She needed eight science courses.

She moved to the East Coast after her husband, also a news reporter who made a career change of his own, was accepted to the New York University School of Law.

“It’s been a long road,” said Ms. Fanciullo. “But I couldn’t be happier with my decision, and I’m excited what the future holds. Who knows, I may find a way to combine both journalism and dentistry.”

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