So you’ve just started your first year of dental school. You’re super excited to be embarking on this new journey and seeing all your hard work from these past few years pay off. You attend orientation week where they tell you all about the financial aid, research opportunities, student organizations, etc. At the organization fair, you head about all these amazing student organizations on your campus. You notice a lot of the social activities revolve around going out to bars or drinking. You feel so ready for this new year, but then you become overwhelmed and discouraged because maybe you might not fit in with the same social scene as your peers.
I have been asked by a couple new dental students who felt discouraged after hearing of the social aspects of dental school during orientation week. Maybe you don’t drink, party, go out to bars, or you just don’t feel comfortable in that kind of atmosphere. Luckily, that is not the only way to make friends and there are a lot of dental students who also don’t drink and/or party. Do not be discouraged by the first few weeks of dental school. This is the time when school has not yet gotten too crazy and there is ample time to go out and make use of all of this free time. It is a time to get to know your classmates, but going out is not the only way to do it! During your first year, especially at TAMCOD, your classes will be so demanding that there will be no time to go out. Here are my tips on making friends in dental school when you do not drink/party.
Form a study group. These will be the people you will spend most of your time with. If you study with friends, it makes studying fun (or as fun as studying can be).
Join an academic-focused or religious organization. Each frat has a different atmosphere, so find the one that you vibe with.
Attend the party, skip the after-party. Or at least make an appearance at a party and then when you’ve had your fun, head out.
Make friends that are similar to you. That way you can plan your own version of fun.
As an ASDA president who does not drink, I can understand this concern. There have been times when I would not attend an event or traded social events that involved drinking for a night in with my friends. I think, at the time, this might have been a disadvantage. But, in hindsight, I don’t think I missed out on much.
I’m not saying partying is bad for those of you who enjoy it. Everyone will eventually find their niche and make the best friends of their lives during dental school. Dental school is for everyone.
Every summer here at TAMCOD, we have 6 weeks of summer session from the beginning of June to mid July. Last summer, the summer after D1, we took Micro and studied for boards. This summer was a stark contrast since we were basically thrown into clinic and started working on patients. Looking back, I don’t know how I learned so much in 6 weeks. How do I screen my patients? How do I know what to ask for at the dispensary window? How do I set up and break down a chair?? Where do I take my patients for consults and what do I do at the consults??? I went from being super overwhelmed and not knowing what I was doing in clinic to feeling pretty confident with starting in the fall with even more patients. So without further ado, and because brevity is the soul of wit, I will try to describe to you the feelings that went through my head this summer.
When you get assigned your first patient:
When you have no idea how to use Axium (patient database program we use at the school):
When you set up your chair 30 minutes early and the patient doesn’t show up
When pt says the most beautiful words: “Do whatever you want, money is not an issue.”
When a patient asks “Have you done this before?” … Does in the sim head count?
When you have to break it to your patient that they can’t keep any of their teeth and need dentures
When your pt asks if they can get 28 implants instead of dentures
Not knowing why the patient has pain and what to treatment plan
So you just guess and get absolutely chewed up by your professor I treatment planned a whole quadrant for endo. Don’t do that…
Getting home after an exhausting day in clinic with no lunch break
Learning from your mistakes and doing it all over the next day
As part of my role on the ASDA Editorial Board, I’m launching a diversity series on the national ASDA blog “Mouthing Off” by showcasing the diverse holidays dental students celebrate across the nation. Each article in this series (Titled “Celebrating diversity: ______”) will be posted around the time of that particular holiday. The first article written for the series was posted yesterday following Eid celebrations this past weekend. You can read it here!
If you are a dental or pre-dent student who would like to write for this series and have a holiday that you celebrate coming up, reach out to me! 🙂
I’m clearing my phone of old photos, so I thought I would post some random pictures I took from lab this year. Second year has definitely been more hands on with lab work, and these photos are just a snippet of the projects we have done.
Sharing is caring. Basically everyone will be asking to borrow something from you in lab, and you will do the same to others. Sometimes things get so busy in lab that you misplace things if you leave them alone for even a minute. In the first week of school, my freshly poured impression was mistakenly taken by a classmate after briefly leaving wet lab. It turned out fine though because I just took that mystery person’s poured up impression they also left behind in wet lab.
Anticipate losing something in lab. Almost everyone marks their belongings with some Washi or duct tape so they won’t get lost. By the end of the year, most everyone will owe the school some money for missing things. I ended up owing $53.23. Another unfortunate classmate ended up owing $331.
The couples that formed in D1 are now inseparable and you are already trying to figure out what to wear to their weddings.
Coming into D2, I was so used to working on bench top that I couldn’t imagine having to use my indirect vision to work in the Sim head. Now, having completed D2, I can’t imagine doing preps bench top.
You will get much, much faster at dentistry. This goes for both waxing and preps. For reference, we would have 5 hours to work on a single wax up in D1. In D2, we had 4 hours to do 3 wax ups.
Grades will become less and less important to you as you slowly lose the will to study for another exam (at least for me).
You will become more reliant on tea or coffee on the days you have lecture exams because you have reached princess status and can no longer tolerate sitting down to study.
Your Brasseler (basically a motor hand piece you can use for trimming/polishing) will double as your manicurist. You can literally have your own makeshift nail salon at your bench.
Nobody likes to take out and set up the Brasseler. You will borrow your neighbor’s Brasseler at all costs.
You will be so thankful you go to TAMCOD because, while other dental students are stressing the summer after D2 about boards, you’re chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ this summer because that was you last year.
About a month ago, I was assigned “Oral Anesthesia” rotation, more colloquially known on campus as “Stab Lab”. During this rotation, we pair up in groups in the Oral Surgery clinic and practice doing Inferior Alveolar nerve, Lingual, Long Buccal, Posterior Superior Alveolar nerve blocks and infiltrations. (If this means absolute jibberish to you, here is a picture of the nerves in the head that supply sensation to the oral cavity:)
I lucked out with a fabulous partner who made sure to study up before giving injections. He, on the other hand, was not as lucky. Fortunately, the long hours of studying head and neck anatomy in Gross lab comes back to you, and they reviewed with us beforehand. What really helped was the professor literally holding my hand while I was doing the injection and talking me through the whole thing.
There’s something odd about learning how to give injections in class and then actually doing them on a living person. After the rotation, we had to try it again on a real patient. It felt strangely surreal when the patient said he was starting to feel numb, and that I was responsible with this tiny needle and a couple drops of lidocaine.
One thing that surprised me was how little pain I actually felt. The last time I have gotten an injection was probably back when I was a good child that ate all her Halloween candy. It’s been so long that I forgot what it felt like and expected the worst. Surprisingly, I did not feel a thing both when the needle was inserted or when the lidocaine was injected (topical anesthetic helped). The slight pinch I did feel was when an infiltration was done towards the anterior region, but it was not bad at all. I think the most dangerous part about getting local is the possibility of biting your cheek and/or lip because you can’t feel it. It seemed every time I talked, I would bite my cheek, and this bothered me so much that I decided to take a nap to pass the time. I was numb for a good 4 hours!
For those who aren’t familiar, the Dental Olympics are an annual event consisting of the three Texas dental schools: Texas A&M, San Antonio, and Houston. Students from each class come together to compete in a variety of sports for their school. The event is held at or around the host school and rotates between schools each year. This year we went to San Antonio and took home the trophy!!
The Trophy will now be held in our break room for the rest of the year, and hopefully for many, many more years. It’s unfortunate, though, that we now how to change the almost 40 year tradition and engrave “Texas A&M” instead of “Baylor”.
The Olympics included several different sports, including men’s teams, women’s teams and some co-ed. The sports this year included: a 5K, Basketball, Tennis, Golf, Swimming, Ping pong, Washers, Super Smash Bros, Soccer, Flag Football, Sand Volleyball, Softball, Dodgeball, and Ultimate Frisbee. What did I compete in you may ask? Well it was actually a really cold day so I didn’t go to any outdoor events, but I did compete in Washers, a game where you have to throw washers into a box (it’s harder than it sounds). I did not win my round, but my school won overall! I was also a really great cheerleader for all the other indoor events..