Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The D-1 Experience I

I promised action, and here it is. Actually, I have received a few encouraging emails from random people. This reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place so I am making an effort!

I started this post a few weeks ago but couldn’t finish and then forgot to finish…oops. So I have the 2nd of 4 microbiology tests tomorrow and while I feel good about it – there definitely will be several hours of studying after I get this post up. I am about to finish my 8th week of actual classes..and it has been quite an 8 weeks.

This post will focus my thoughts on the current D-1 curriculum. Enjoy.

Physiology I
-We have this course three times a week, at 8am. Strictly lecture based, and straightforward. Being a biology major actually DOES have perks I suppose as most of this course is review for me so far. Well, they do go into a bit more detail – but it is not so hard to grasp given a strong foundation in basic physio. Note to predents – TAKE A PHYSIOLOGY COURSE.

I did very well on the first exam but sorta sputtered on the second. Still in great shape, but not as well as my type-A personality would prefer.

-This class confuses me. The lecturers so far have all been VERY difficult to understand- partly because English is not their primary language, and partly because they are unorganized. I also question the validity of WHAT we are learning. I understand the systemic impacts of dentistry in general, but do I really need to spend hours memorizing how to diagnose someone with bloody diarrhea and exactly what bacterium is involved?

However, the perk I do get out of the class is diagnosis itself. The tests have many questions that simply state “patient presents with so and so condition, lab results show diplococci gram negative blah blah, what do you treat with?” Yea, we aren’t training to be physicians, but diagnosis is a VERY important aspect of dentistry; you could very well kill someone if you don’t understand their medical history completely. Allergies, heart conditions, diabetes, medications, ectera all interplay and correlate to our own treatment plans. The thought process itself, rather than the actual material, is something I am enjoying in this class.

I did well on our first exam, but I feel like the next one is going to be much more difficult. We have pages and pages of different diseases with their accompanying bacteria to memorize and understand. And the test is tomorrow…gulp.

This class meets 4 times a week.

Anatomy –upper thorax/appendages and Head/Neck
-Hard. Very hard. We only meet on Mondays and Wednesdays. But we still get 8 hours of combined lecture/lab per week. This is not including all the extra lab time you MUST clock in order to have a shot at passing, let alone doing well.

I honestly thought I failed the first practical – but ended up doing a LOT better than I thought. Still not as well as I originally wanted coming into school, but definitely a great pick-me up after thinking I failed the thing. Conversely, I did a lot worse on the lecture exam than I thought I did – which is disappointing. All I can do at this point is work harder and see what happens.

Anatomy cannot be explained in text, it must be experienced. To all the up and coming classes; be ready to spend a LOT of time. Be ready to get frustrated. Be ready to struggle. Most importantly, appreciate what you are learning. We just started head and neck..and this stuff is VERY relevant to dentistry.

As one of our professors so aptly put it (and actually yelled it out about 3 times during the first lecture) “The skull is the foundation of dentistry.”

And to all those worried about cutting into dead people…trust me. After the first week, you will still be scared to go to anatomy lab…but it will be because of the massive load of information you must process, not because of cadavers.

The professors pretty much expect you to already know all the anatomy language right off the bat in superior/inferior, dorsal/ventral, proximal/distal, ectera. So if you have never taken anatomy, I suggest you figure the language out BEFORE starting dental school.

There is plenty more I could say, but there really is no way to put it into words. It is a fascinating, frustrating, unique, and excruciating experience all at the same time.

Histology – general
-I love this class. Well, I love histology in general too. Another big tip to pre-dents…TAKE HISTO. The professor is by far, the best we have had so far and actually makes the class quite entertaining. This class requires a lot of lab time if you haven’t had it already. The concepts aren’t too hard to grasp..but recognizing slides can be troublesome to the inexperienced. Still, this is one of the only didactic classes I look forward to.

Comprehensive Care IA
-This class really makes you feel like you are in dental school. It is broken into 7 modules. My only gripe is the lack of organization. Seeing as it difficult to cram 68 D-1’s into a pre-clinic, we are initially divided into one of 6 groups (which eventually determines the actual clinic we will work in down the road). Comp care is ALL day Tuesdays (8-5) and pretty much all day Thursdays (except 10-12:00). On Tuesdays we have a morning session and an afternoon session. We all go through the same stuff, but our group number determines WHEN we go through it. This makes things a bit confusing at times. I know I have an ethics project to do, but we haven’t met since the last week of I don’t really remember WHAT we were doing. I also have to go teach 1st graders about dental hygiene for another module. We wrote the lesson plan three weeks ago, but I’m not actually GOING to teach until mid-November. See where I am going?

There is a TON of stuff crammed in, and this course is worth a whopping 6 doing well is a must.

A lot of the modules are pretty boring to me and feel like that time could be better spent. However, the portions that actually count towards the final grade (general dentistry/restorative, human dentition, and periodontics) are quite interesting and fun. Just this last week, I got to use the high-speed for the first time and create my first prep. It was awful. Every day, I am realizing why dental school is 4 years long.

I will dedicate a future post to the dentistry part of this course in the future. Because that is probably what most people want to hear about anyways.

There you have it - my ½-way through the first semester impressions on the curriculum. The traditional curriculum is a dying-breed. And while it is far from perfect, I know it works better for me than PBL ever would.

And to anyone interested, UIC is planning to incorporate PBL into its curriculum by 2009. Good thing I’ll already be in the clinics! WOO.

Time to hit the micro. Enjoy your lives people, so that I can at least live vicariously through you.