There is a new addition to my closet. It’s crisp white, has my name emblazoned on it and whispers to me you are now a dentist. I enter clinics the day after Memorial Day.. mere hours away!
When the first years- now second years!- arrived, they came to us with anxious questions about professors and classes and I…drew a complete blank. All I remember now is a whirlwind of emotions and activities and absolute certainty that my head was going to fall off from the confusion of it all.
It’s funny because I have run across notes to write a post about first year.. and then another later on to write about second year.. I wrote scraps of thoughts here and there but never posted anything up. So here are post snippets from yesteryears:
From first year:
Two words: absolute confusion.
Biochemistry and histology were heavy courses. Restorative dentistry was the course where we began to peek into what dentistry was all about. We learned all the intricacies of our teeth, how they were shaped, etc. It was also paired with a lab where we finally got to do something interactive. It was mass chaos but fun. On the first day, we were given a nub of tooth, told to bring out our instruments and wax and build a tooth. That is all. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed and should just drop out within the first month, don’t worry. There are others just like you. Take reassurance in it like I did. Keep going.
Second semester brought cadavers and restorations (aka gross anatomy and restorative dentistry two). Location was difficult in anatomy but perhaps the hardest part of anatomy was learning the origins and insertions of muscle. Otherwise, anatomy wasn’t quite so bad.
Summer session for us only included physiology since our pre-clinic is in renovation over the summer.
And that was first year! Very loosely.
What did I learn first year?
Ask intelligent questions. Questions are generally appreciated so long as it isn’t a question that was answered in class or could be found in the literature. If it was, fear the wrath and scorn of your professor.
Be organized. This applies to academics and in the pre-clinic. You will need to keep on top of readings as well as projects, which are all apt to change. Lucky for me, I have the most supportive class. We receive constant reminders through Facebook from each other. One of our classmates even updates a Google calendar of all our classes for everyone. In pre-clinic, we were given a box of equipment on day one. I did not know what anything was but thankfully I was able to snag an upperclassman to help me out.
Don’t listen to upperclassmen. Hah! I say this due to my own personal experience. Yes, upperclassman can tell you better ways to hold your instruments but, for us, the curriculum changed so information about teachers and their teaching methods was useless because they changed. So, take the advice with a grain of salt.
Finally, make friends with your classmates. This group of people are with you for the next four years. Yes, they will remind you when deadlines are changed and paperwork is due; they will give you their extra tooth when the store is closed, but, most importantly, they will understand what you’re going through in a way no one else will. They will get your frustrations with financial aid and feel that same level of sheer joy when that cumulative RD final is over.
All in all, first year wasn’t quite so bad. However, upperclassmen have all claimed the worst of it is to come..next year.
I would also add to this list:
Don’t complain (unnecessarily). You may have an issue with a professor’s style of teaching. You may dislike the way things are scheduled. There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion but you have to recognize what fights are actually worth it. Your complaints have a repercussion on your class and its reputation.
Note: If you want to fight professors for points, more power to you. Go for it but be respectful.
From second year:
Exams are done! I have a week to gear up before the October storm of exams. Thankfully there is only a practical this week. It’s amazing to remember the times when I used to be so scared of practicals. Now, with practicals every week, I’m definitely feeling more unfazed by the entire prospect.
Our class has been struggling with learning what materials to use for our preps. The general materials in use are: Jet acrylic, Snap and Trim, MaxiTemp and VersaTemp. There’s also the option to do the provisionals intraorally or extraorally. If you decide to do it extraorally, you’ll need alginate, Mach and Blu Bite. Man, dentistry is expensive. Even at student discounts, Snap and Trim comes out to $30, Mach and Blu Bite are around $55, MaxiTemp prices at $80 for a box of three cartridges and the gun and Versa Temp I believe is $80 for a box of three cartridges and $80 for the gun. I’m shuddering remembering giving up my student ID when I bought the Snap and Trim and the Mach and Blu Bite.
I do remember being stunned at the amount of money we were shelling out second year for materials, especially with professors reminding us that these are the reduced prices.. Restorative always swallows your life because you feel like this is where you need to excel. We were especially brutalized by the back to back exams first semester.
If you are in dental school or are pre-dental, feel free to ask me any questions! If you would like to add advice or your own personal experiences, I would welcome it as well!