Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 03: A Day in the Life

Back in the days when I was a wee pre-dental student, I was always intrigued by the day-to-day happenings of dental school students. All I wanted was a window into the daily life of dental students, as mundane as that sounds. No such windows were provided.

Well, now I'm here to remedy the situation.

My alarm goes off at 7:45am. I roll out of bed and attempt to put the finishing touches on my learning need before emailing it to my facilitator. Each Monday and Friday, we meet with a small group of our peers to discuss a case under the guidance of a faculty member. At the end of each session, we come up with a list of learning needs - topics that we need to know more information about in order to better understand the case. This week, my assigned learning need was on "pain". 

9:45am: leave for school. Today is one of the days where we don't have an 8am start time. It's great because we get to sleep in but not great because it means that all the parking spots at school will be taken... As a result, we leave for school 45 minutes before the start of our first class. 

10:30am: sitting in the lecture hall for our first ever morphology lecture. Our professor gives us an overview of all the cool things we will be learning and doing over the next year. Very inspirational! 

12:14pm: morphology lecture goes overtime. We run up to the sim lab to buy a pair of scrubs from an upperclassman since our scrubs won't arrive for the next few weeks and dressing in business casual attire sucks. 

12:30pm: inhale lunch in the first floor lobby.

12:50pm: run up to the sim lab and begin setting up for our first morphology lab. We finally get to bust out our spatulas, mixing bowl, vacuum mixing bowl, metal impression trays, alginate, and Fujirock powder.

1:00pm: we sit in the third floor sim lab awaiting the start of our first morphology lab session. Today we will learn how to create alginate impressions and make diagnostic casts.

  • Attempt #1 (FAIL): alginate set before I even had a chance to place it on my typodont. 
  • Attempt #2 (FAIL): my anterior teeth have gone through the alginate and are touching the metal part of the impression tray. 
  • Attempt #3 (FAIL): impression was off-center and missing the margins of the third molar. 
  • Attempt #4 (FAIL): impression was still missing the back margins of the third molar. 
  • Attempt #5 (FAIL): impression had bubbles on the occlusal surface of the posterior teeth and distorted third molars. 
  • Attempt #6 (FAIL): impression still had bubbles on the occlusal surface of the posterior teeth. 
  • Attempt #7 (PASS): still had minute bubbles on the occlusal surface of the posterior teeth but the adjunct faculty was kind enough to pass me. 
Finally, a passing alginate impression!
So we cast the stone models, waited an hour and....


There are a few positive bubbles, but this is that first diagnostic cast that I made! I'm proud of my diagnostic cast despite the fact that I nearly used an entire bottle of alginate to make the impression.

5:50pm: Finally done with lab! Dropped by the Korean Dental Student Association (KDSA) meeting to network and meet upperclassmen. (No, I'm not Korean). 

6:30pm: Exiting the dental school and heading over to one of the dental fraternity houses for a back to school BBQ. Stopped by the gas station on the way and picked up some Choco Tacos. I never knew that these existed! 

7:00pm: arrived at the dental fraternity house for the BBQ and mixer - a great way to relax after a long day in school/lab. After two weeks, I'm still having a hard time deciding which dental fraternity I want to join 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 01: Class of 2016 White Coat Ceremony

I don't have anything particularly witty to say about our white coat ceremony so I'm just going to let my pictures tell the story. 

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC White Coat Ceremony

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scenes from Orientation Week

When choosing dental schools, there is one secondary yet important factor to consider: is the school's dress code business casual or scrubs? Thank goodness I'm attending a school where the standard dress code is scrubs. No more frantically trying to plan out what I'm going to wear to school at 6:30 in the morning. No more stressing about whether or not my outfits will match. Besides, I don't even own enough business casual attire in my wardrobe to last a full week. 

First day of dental school

Until we receive our official school scrubs though, we're expected to wear business casual attire to class and to sim lab. The whole business casual thing is kind of a pain in the ass.

Apparently, the blue plaid shirt is a staple in every guys business casual wardrobe. I can't even count how many blue plaid shirts I've seen within the span of orientation week. 

First day of dental school

My roommate and I attempted to drill a Class I prep at the Delt House. We managed to get our hands on a drill before dental school even started!

We celebrated our last day of dental school orientation at all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. It was an interesting experience, introducing the non-Asians to the world of Korean BBQ. We even persuaded them to sample beef tongue. 

First day of dental school

And hardcore studying the night before our first day of school. Because we have a quiz tomorrow... on the first day of school. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Beginning of the Rest of Our Lives

Hearts pounding. Eyes glowing with excitement. We're anxious. We're ecstatic. For the USC dental school class of 2016, August 20, 2012 marked the first day of orientation - otherwise known as the first day of the rest of our lives as health care practitioners. After so many years dreaming of this moment, it is finally here.

We are all distinct, hailing from different states and vastly different ethnic backgrounds. We have different interests and extracurricular pursuits. But there are moments when all 144 of us are united with a common goal - becoming an extraordinary dentist. Dental school is a challenging experience. Some say that it feels like you are standing aboard a sinking ship. Yet there is small consolation knowing that there are 143 comrades with you on the sinking ship. We are all in this TOGETHER. 

Dental school orientation is a novel yet draining experience. After three months of vegetating during summer break, I'm still trying to adjust to the rigid 8-5 school schedule. Like waking up at the crack of dawn every morning. Or inhaling my lunch while running from one lecture hall to the next. Or sitting in lecture halls for more hours than I care for.

Information sessions comprised the bulk of our orientation experience this past week. Some lectures were spirited, some made us laugh out loud, some were less than useful, and others were frankly depressing (think financial aid information session). Inevitably, our eyes glazed over at the prospect of countless hours sitting in a lecture hall. 

Yet there was one information session that stood out distinctly in my mind. 

One of the fourth year dental students shared with us his dental school curriculum vitae and his accomplishments throughout his four years in dental school. Let me just state that this guy was a complete BAWSE. Despite how intimidating his CV looked, it was, by far, the most inspirational information session to date. He allowed us a glimpse into the realm of possibilities at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. 

His speech was essentially a reiteration of my post on The Epilogue of My Undergraduate Career. The opportunities present at the University of Southern California are endless. The only limitation is the person's willingness to seek out the opportunities and become involved. His speech helped reaffirm the goals that I set for myself before dental school started. I want to seize every opportunity presented to me. I want to become actively involved in the dental school community. I want to learn from highly successful mentors as well as inspire others. I want to gain "real world" experience. I want to travel the world, live in different cities, experience different cultures, and meet people from around the globe. I want my educational experience at the University of Southern California to transcend books and lecture halls. I want to maximize my experience throughout my four years of dental school so I can look back with no regrets. 

I want to fully embody the Trojan ideals: faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, ambitious. 

Fight on

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What I Have Been Up To

USC Keck School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony

Meeting new classmates at the Mix Lounge in LA Live.

Hanging out with the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry Class of 2016 at Dockweiler beach. 

And mentally preparing for our first day of school tomorrow... 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gearing Up For First Year of Dental School

It seems that every few days, a random person will ask me the following question: Are you excited for dental school?

I feel compelled to answer with an emphatic "YES" adorned with all sorts of exclamation marks and excitement. I don't want to disappoint people. Seriously, I should be beyond excited to start dental school soon, right?

It's not that I'm not excited to start dental school. I'm just a little apprehensive about the impending start of my graduate career. After three months of lazing around, living a carefree life free from studying and deadlines, traveling the world, and waking up blissfully in the middle of the afternoon, the stringent high-stress routine of dental school seems rather daunting.

Much to my surprise, I was thrilled to receive our dental school orientation schedule this afternoon. It helps that orientation is generally a stressless affair that helps ease us back into the "school routine".

USC Ostrow School of Dentistry Orientation Schedule

As per my annual back-to-school tradition, I have been organizing my new school planner. This year, I'm testing out the Filofax as my go-to planner. I've spent the past few days meticulously adorning my new planner with stickers and glitter. 

Filofax Chameleon Organizer

Filofax Chameleon Organizer

It reeks of girliness but it's kind of awesome.

Last but not least, collecting teeth for dental school. I've managed to collect a mason jar full of teeth this summer. The requirement is 300 teeth though I'm not entirely sure how many teeth I have in the jar at the moment. Or more importantly, how many usable teeth I have...

It's pretty grotesque looking.
I left the jar downstairs and both my parents freaked out. They don't understand why ANYONE would want to pursue dentistry as a profession.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Taiwan 2012: Kenting National Park

A two hour drive took us from Kaohsiung, my father's childhood hometown, to Kenting National Park, the southernmost tip of Taiwan. It's amusing because only a few days ago, we were in Yehliu - the northernmost tip of Taiwan. This time around, I literally traveled from the northernmost tip of Taiwan to the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

Kenting is seemingly magical. The clear blue sky is interspersed with rolling clouds of cotton. The gentle blue waves from the ocean rhythmically wash onto shore while the golden mid-afternoon sun showers its magic on land.

The water in Kenting is actually a shade of blue instead of the usual murky brown hue that characterizes Los Angeles beaches. Best of all, the water is perfect in temperature - a necessity to satisfy our inner Goldilocks. It's a welcome change for someone who grew up in the vicinity of Los Angeles beaches, where the water is frigid cold in the summer despite the fact that the outside thermostat exceeds 100F.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Taiwan 2012: Miscellany from Middle Taiwan

Travelling through the middle parts of Taiwan was a blur for me. All I remember was a LONG car ride from Taipei to Kaohsiung interspersed with many pit stops at tourist attractions.
Sun Moon Lake
Really good tofu pudding in Tainan