Sunday, April 7, 2013

10 Things I Learned During My First Year In Dental School

In about three weeks, the D1s enter a period of limbo known as summer trimester. We don't know whether we should call ourselves first years or second years at that point. The D4s will be graduating and the D2s have fully evacuated sim lab. Logically, when the D4s graduate, we should be able to call ourselves second years. But upper classmen have informed us that until the new D1s arrive on campus, we are still considered "first years". Nonetheless, here's a snippet of things I have learned during my first year of dental school: 
  1. Dental school is like being back in high school. Cliques form, rumors spread like wildfire ("did you hear about [insert name here] hooking up with [insert name here] last night?"), and you're stuck with the same group of people for 8 hours a day. 
  2. Regarding cliques - they start to solidify within the first 2 months of school. Also, bromance (still) runs rampant...
  3. Coffee is going to be your best friend. Until it makes you jittery while you are doing a class II prep for a final timed practical exam. Jittery hands + high speed hand piece + preps that are measured in tenths of millimeters = bad news. 
  4. Accidentally getting stabbed by random dental instruments becomes a fact of life. Beware of buffalo knives, #11 scalpels, #12 scalpels, explorers, perio probes, 7901 burs, 256 burs, etc. 
  5. You get over the smell of gross things pretty quickly. My first week in sim lab, the smell from drilling extracted teeth made me nauseous. Now, the smell just reminds me of corn nuts (kind of gross, I know). 
  6. If you are a complete germaphobe, dentistry is probably not the right profession for you. I'm not even talking about patient saliva, blood, and body tissues flying around in the dental operatory. Sim lab itself can become a pretty squalid scene by the end of the day. 
  7. If you can get over the pride issues, you realize that it is okay to ask for help. Whether in clinic, in PBL, or in life, there's usually someone who has more expertise in that area than you. And more often than not, they WANT to help. By going out of my way to ask second years for help, I've learned so many invaluable tricks in sim lab. 
  8. You are probably going to fail at something. You may even fail multiple times. Don't expect things to be easy in dental school. Like the quote says, "It never gets easier. You just get better". 
  9. Accept the fact that there are people who live in SIM lab, study for exams weeks in advance, and know what they want to specialize in on the first day of dental school. They are called ortho gunners and there's nothing you can do about them. Don't worry because most of your other classmates are like you and have absolutely no idea what they want to do in life. 
  10. Instead of serving as a means to get wasted at a frat party on Thursday nights, alcohol becomes an accompaniment to work. We have a set of maxillary anterior waxups due tomorrow? How about a wine and waxing night? We have to read Chapters 2-4 of the posterior esthetic restorations manual before lecture? Want some beer to go with that? Was sim lab a pain-in-the-ass today? Let's relax with some whiskey while we (pretend to) read learning needs. 

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