Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 39: 29-Hours In the Life of a First Year Dental Student, Part 1

I wasn't chosen to be a student ambassador.

I can say that I was sufficiently bummed yesterday at 7:30am in the morning when I found out the news from an eloquently penned rejection email. It took me a while to set aside my hurt, mull over the situation, and realize that I can make just as much of an impact on future dental students via my photos and firsthand stories. You don't actually have to have a designated title of "student ambassador" in order to be an ambassador of something you care about.

Without further ado, here is 29-Hours in the Life of a First Year Dental Student


Six weeks into the school year, we have finally finished our second PBL case! It's 9am in the morning and all 144 of the first years (well, minus a few stragglers) are sitting in the fourth floor lecture hall for case closing. At the end of every case, faculty organize a case closing lecture where they present on the important topics we should have learned and address any lingering questions that we may have.

Our second case dealt with topics such as legal paperwork, patient relations, and x-ray radiography. Truth be told, it wasn't a case that I particularly enjoyed. I feel like legal issues in dentistry, paperwork, and patient relations could be more efficiently presented in a two hour lecture setting rather than a three week PBL case. But that is just my humble opinion. 

10:30am marks the start of our dental morphology lecture. This week, we are learning about everything you could ever want to know about anterior teeth. Lobes, grooves, ridges, cingulums, cusps, average width, average height, etc.

Our lunch break starts at noon and fortunately, today was the first time we were able to get out of morphology lecture before 12pm. I quickly eat lunch in the student lounge and then head over to the parking lot to buy a set of Dental Decks and some used NBDE preparation books from a third year dental student. 

1pm - 5pm = Morphology lab. This week, we started wax-ups (building up a tooth using wax) on the maxillary and mandibular anterior teeth.
Dental School

Our first task was learning how to handle wax and use an electric waxer by writing our name and "USC" on a flat surface.

Dental School

Then we drilled off half of an anterior tooth. Our goal was to use wax to recreate the morphology of the tooth structure that was lost. Pictures of the final wax-up coming soon

5pm - 6pm: Lucy Hobbs Society meeting on the first floor. Named after Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, the first female to graduate from dental school in America, the society seeks to provide mentors for female first year dental students.

6pm - 9pm: Our first practical exam for amalgam is taking place the upcoming Monday. As a result, the sim lab is packed with first years practicing their Class I preps and amalgam condensation/carving.

Dental School Sim Lab

I'm not familiar with the standards at other dental schools. However, the clinical standards at USC are rather stringent. Faculty and students TAs alike demand perfection in all of our projects.

Dental School Sim Lab 
In our preclinical courses, we are graded on a letter scale in which a "T" is equivalent to failing. Small missteps such as having a cavity prep that is tenths of a millimeter too wide or tenths of a millimeter too deep result in a "T". Only the truly obsessive-compulsive members of our population can tolerate the stresses of dentistry.

Dental School Bur Block
Dental School Class I Amalgam Prep

Above is my practice Class I prep on tooth #19 (the mandibular left first molar).

9pm: I walk down from the 3rd floor SIM Lab to visit some fourth year friends in the 2nd floor clinic. I enjoy being in the 2nd floor clinic because it forces me to remember the big picture - everything that we do in SIM lab is preparing us to become excellent clinicians during our third and fourth year of dental school.


  1. Hey! Don't be bummed about the student ambassador thing! You're a great writer and I'm sure this blog is helping a lot of students. I definitely appreciate your posts. I just applied to USC dental (actually it's the only school I applied to LOL...) so hopefully we'll be peers in the coming fall. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that your posts are appreciated. Good luck with everything!

    1. Thank you!
      Hopefully we will see you at USC soon!