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Reapplying to Dental School?

With December 1st having reared its ugly head, many are celebrating closure to their hard earned work. For others, the waiting game has just begun. While it’s easy to feel disheartened, the extra time can become a strategic approach to putting together a great application for the next cycle. Here are some thing you can do during this time:

  • Ask for feedback. Whether you interviewed at the school or not, it never hurts to ask what could have made you a more competitive applicant. Chances are, it was probably something tangible and (hopefully) not your interpersonal skills. Which leads me to the next one…
  • Improve your DAT score if needed. According to ADEA, for the 2015-2016 class, the average national DAT score was 19.20. For Texas A&M College of Dentistry, the average admitted DAT score has been a 21 for the past 2 years. If you have a dental school goal, try looking up their matriculation statistics and see how you compare.
  • Enroll in a masters/post baccalaureate program and take more upper level science classes. If you did not take most of the biology classes offered by your undergrad, they may want you to take more in preparation for dental school. Make sure to also do well in these classes, as this is another way they can pre-assess your success in dental school. Schools want to see an upward trend. This shows drive and persistence!
  • Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Continue the volunteer work you did in undergrad. If you did not do much, now is the time to find new opportunities. Look for events hosted by your local dental school, register for Missions of Mercy events, volunteer at a local dental clinic, etc. The opportunities are always there!
  • Find new letters of recommendations if applicable. If you had strong letters last year, maybe you can include an optional letter from someone you know will speak well on your behalf.
  • Be realistic. Choose a school in your reach (not ivy leagues if you don’t feel as competitive) and out of state friendly schools (NYU, Tufts, Michigan, etc…). When applying.

 

These are all the tips I can think of for a re-applicant. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There may be other things on your application which are unique to you that can be added/ improved/ removed. I hope this has given you some ideas! But whatever you do, do not turn in the same application. Change your essays and update your application with new experiences. Don’t be afraid to mention you’re a re-applicant in your essay! Use it to your advantage as this could be a great segue for mentioning how you have improved since last year.

D2 Fall

New Year 2018!

I can’t believe another year has flown by so quickly. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was wondering how I would survive D1 final exams and writing my resolutions for this year. Lets take a look at my new year resolutions from last year’s post.

  1. Regularly update my new blog.

    Check! I think I can say that I did in fact regularly update my blog since this time last year. Forty-three posts to be exact!

  2. Join a pilates class and actually stick to it

    Let us all forget about this one because I did not even step one foot into a pilates studio. I did, however, join yoga and belly dance classes. I did not regularly stick to them though…

  3. Stay in touch with high school friends

    Check! I don’t think this was ever a problem because many of them are also in professional school and understand the constant struggle.

  4. Finish my first year of dental school not at the bottom of my class

    Check! I even made it somewhere in the top half! Good job, Lana.

  5. Learn a new skill like photography/ photoshop/ cooking/ etc.

    Let us also forget about this one. I sadly didn’t really learn any new life skills.

  6. Volunteer more

    Check! Since as I did not volunteer anywhere during my semester off in 2016, I definitely did volunteer more this year. Being in dental school opened me up to a bunch of new volunteer opportunities.

 

Okay so 4/6 is not too bad! I managed to accomplish most of my New Year’s resolutions this year! Now it’s time to make some new ones. Maybe I can get 100% next year.

  1. Stop spending so much money on clothes.
  2. Travel more.
  3. Improve my school’s ASDA chapter as President.
  4. Learn basic Spanish words so I don’t fail too miserably in clinic. Also brush up on my medical Arabic skills.
  5. Stick to some (any) kind of workout routine. I’m trying to set broader goals this time…

Happy New Year!

 

D2 Fall

Addiction Epidemic

This winter break, I have found the time to finally catch up with all my TV shows. Amidst my productive binging of the show “This Is Us”, a character in particular stood out to me. Kevin Pearson, a successful actor, injures his right knee for the second time in his life while shooting a movie. The first time he injures his knee, it cost him his full-ride sports scholarship to Pitt and dream of becoming a football player. As you can imagine, this time around, he is determined not to let his knee ruin something he’s truly good at again. His doctor prescribes him Vicodin after his knee surgery and tells him to rest. Of course, he hastily takes the pills to be back on set ASAP. The problem is, right after his dreams of ever playing football again were shattered, his beloved father suddenly dies. Guilt-stricken from his relationship with his father, and having never properly faced his death, Kevin starts spiraling into a painful mid-life crisis. By this time, he is in such severe emotional pain that he uses all his prescribed medication and refills. When he can’t get anymore refills and starts going through withdrawal, he even finds a way to write his own prescription for Fentanyl, which is much stronger than his now obsolete Vicodin.

This leads me to a presentation I heard during the NLC conference last month regarding the opioid epidemic. Speaker Austin Eubanks detailed his experience of the events on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School. That day, he watched as his best friend die in his arms. After surviving the shooting, he continued to struggle an even bigger issue that almost killed him. He candidly addressed today’s national problem of over prescribing opioids and what this has to do with the rise in mass shootings in America.

Eubanks gave an interesting argument for the cause of today’s mass shooting culture. He proposes that today’s definition of pain leaves out a very important component — emotional pain. Opioids are useful in relieving physical pain, but they are even more so useful in suppressing emotional pain. The addiction epidemic is not driven by physical pain; it is driven by emotional pain. Much like Kevin from “This Is Us”, Eubanks was suffering from extreme emotional pain which he suppressed through the use of opioids.  He did not go into the specific of how the rise in opioid abuse and mass shootings are related, but I have a few theories:

  • People who substance abuse are more emotionally detached, precipitating the rise in mass shootings.
  • People involved in mass shootings become emotionally distressed and rely on opioids to relieve the pain (like Austin).
  • Both of the above, catalyzing a viscous cycle of destruction.

Simply put, the addiction epidemic is caused by a population riddled with emotional pain being treated by a healthcare system trained to treat physical symptoms. The role that we play as health care providers has a significant impact on Americans, not just as patients, but as citizens.

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Statistics were reported by the NYTimes in 2016. The trend has since worsened.

In the past, the goal of health care providers was to get the patient’s pain down to “zero”. This was to prevent the risk of under treating.  Now, the goal is to get the patient’s pain down to a tolerable level, not zero. Patients should be taught to face their emotional pain. Erasing emotional pain completely through the use of opioids only evades the issue. When Austin Eubanks finally became sober and confronted the loss of his best friend on April 20, 1999, he finally got to go through the stages of grief he should have gone through at the age of 17. Then, at the age of 29 and after 14 months of rehabilitation, he finally healed his emotional pain and became stronger from it.

The TV show kind of left me on a cliff hanger with Kevin’s addiction. In the mean time, I will be painfully waiting for the season to return from its winter hiatus next month.

D2 Fall

One year Blogiversary!

Today marks exactly one year since I made my very first post on this blog. I remember the moment I had the idea to start the blog while I was sleeping over at my best friend’s house. I think I kept bugging her as I went through about a million themes until I finally found one we both liked. At the time, I don’t think I honestly thought I even had enough content to share for a year. But somehow, I managed to regularly post and keep this blog alive. Here’s to another year of documenting my path to DDS!

As of today, here is what my blog has accomplished:

  • 3,733 views
  • Traffic from 43 countries
  • 52 followers
  • 1,656 unique visitors
  • 42 posts
  • 16 comments

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Thank you for your support!

D2 Fall

God Bless the United Shtashe

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Following his speech on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, President Donald Trump made national headlines today. It wasn’t what he said, but how he said it. Judging by his more-than-usually funny way of speaking and the way he struggled to pronounce his words, it appears his bright smile may have had the help of some removable prosthodontics, or in other words, dentures! As I study for my upcoming Removable final, this incident is all too relevant.

It is hard to say which type of denture Mr. President is wearing, either because of my amateur knowledge I just crammed at lunch or because you can’t really tell unless you can examine the posterior teeth in relation to each other. He either has a non anatomic setup (flat plane teeth, not as esthetic), anatomic (cuspal occlusion aids in chewing), or semi anatomic (somewhere in between those 2 options.) There are advantages/disadvantages to each option depending on the amount of ridge resorption the patient has. This is assuming he is actually edentulous and is wearing a full over full. It’s also possible that he has a full dentate arch and one edentulous arch (I think this would be his maxillary since it looks like he is struggling to pull it back inside).

There are also different options for the material to fabricate the teeth. In the olden days, porcelain dentures were more popular, but now plastic dentures are more common. Although porcelain teeth are highly esthetic and wear resistant, they cause greater bite forces which accelerate resorption of the alveolar ridge, AKA the thing the dentures are sitting on. When these ridges resorb, the stability of the denture is compromised. If he is only wearing a maxillary denture and his mandibular teeth are natural, even more force is compressing his maxillary arch and causing it to resorb. This could be why Trump was having a hard time keeping them in. Maybe it’s time for a realignment?

 

In other more interesting news, here is my completed wax up of my full over full anatomic dentures! The pink gums you see is wax right now, but we just invested them to replace the wax with acrylic resin next semester.

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D2 Fall

NLC 2017

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Each year, ASDA hosts a National Leadership Conference in Chicago around October/November. The event is 3 days long (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and includes various speakers, breakout sessions and social events. The event was hosted at the Hilton Chicago, which was a beautiful venue. To give you an idea, this is what the foyer looked like:

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There were 2 opening general sessions (Friday and Saturday) presented after breakfast. The first one was light hearted and funny about how to be a hero and what it means to be a hero. The second day’s general session was on a more serious note, introducing a speaker, Austin Eubanks, who was one of the survivors of the Columbine shooting. He addressed the opioid epidemic problem we now face in the US.

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Some of the breakout session I went to were how to run a gold crown chapter, How to write a CV, leadership idea exchange, developing a chapter mobile app. These programs have given me so many ideas to implement in our school’s ASDA chapter next year. They have also given me very valuable insights in planning for my career after graduation. There was also a dental expo where I got so much free stuff!

Among the social events were a boat cruise sponsored by Medpro, visiting the bean, a failed trip to Willis tower (it started snowing that day and there was no clearance on the sky deck), indulging in Chicago’s deep dish pizza, and of course, getting some boba tea in Chinatown. Because a trip would not be complete unless I got some boba tea.

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There was no point in going up to the sky deck, so I didn’t get to see any scenic views, but I guess the logo is good enough…

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This was the view from the top of the boat on the boat “cruise”. It was so windy and overcast that day so the boat stayed stationary.

 

D2 Fall

The New TAMCOD Dental School

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A couple weeks ago, the school held a new site dedication/ ground breaking ceremony for the new building coming Fall of 2019. They say we will be able to spend our very last semester of D4 year in the building in 2020. I am so stoked about this structure because the one we are currently in was built in 1950 (although the school was “the” state dental college back in October 3, 1905 at a different Dallas location). As D1 and D2 students, we spend most of our time on the basement level of this building, where there are no windows and hallways that almost resemble a prison after hours. I hear this new building now has windows for the D1 and D2 labs, which I am very jealous about.

At the site dedication, if I heard them correctly, it was mentioned that the entering class sizes are expected to go up about 30 percent. Currently, the D1 class is around 100-105 students, so starting in 2020, TAMCOD may have class sizes of around 130 students! I personally am a fan of smaller class sizes, but I think the college is trying to churn out more dentists to serve in our underserved communities.

The new 9 story structure will cost $129 million and include a parking garage for patients (much needed in downtown), a new sim lab, 300 operatories, classrooms and study areas, and new dental technology for students. The school will also be incorporating a “group practice” model in clinic that will pair up dental student, dental hygiene students and faculty to work together on each patient. This is suppose to both make it easier on the patient because specialists will be coming to visit them and get us use to working with a dental team. I hear, however, that this would change our current model of one student seeing the same patient all year to one student rotating through different patients. This could either create less personal connections with patients or prove to be a better learning model by exposing us to more cases.

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I wonder what will happen to our current building when this new building is finished. Perhaps it will be demolished? Used as office space? Absorbed into the Baylor Medical Center next door? Left to collect dust and put the derelict halls to use for haunted houses? I guess we will find out in 2020!