Sunday, June 1, 2008

The D-2 Experience I

As the semester gets underway, I thought it fitting to collect my own initial impressions on the current curriculum and whether or not I think we are getting enough time to study for boards.

I most certainly do not. We have graciously been given a whole 6 Friday afternoons off for ‘board review time.’ This will be ample off time to prepare for a test that covers everything we have learned (and several things we haven’t) up to this point. More on that later.
Granted, the course load is less in terms of credit hours - fifteen as opposed to the twenty-four of last semester. However, it seems like I will actually be spending more time IN the school than I did last semester with all the lab work we are beginning to do.

The only saving grace is that pathology II is really the only course requiring studying on a consistent and regular basis which does leave me lots of evening hours for boards, the catch being that I feel less driven to study after spending an entire day doing lab work.
Here’s the skinny:

Pain Control I:
-Meets once a week and goes over everything you would want to know about pain and anesthetic. We will eventually be stabbing each other in late June I believe. I like the lectures so far as they are straight-forward and mix a lot anatomy and physiology that I already know.

Intro Pediatric Dentistry:
-Still attempting to figure out if this class will be a pain or not. We don’t actually treat live patients (thank god) but there is still a lot to learn and we have a full lab component to pile on the work. Seeing as it is worth 4 credits, I’m assuming we will be doing a good deal of work. The course title really is self-explanatory.

Pathology II:
-I was quite sick of this class last semester. Now they have doubled the agony. We meet TWICE a week for 2.5 hours. I cannot learn this way. Period. Fifty minute lectures became the gold-standard for a reason, it is the ideal time to learn and actually stay attentive. 150 minute lectures is obscene and literally painful to sit through… and we have to do it TWICE a week. The only real blessing of this class is that the tests are very manageable if you put forth reasonable effort. Studying for the mid-term and final can pretty much be accomplished by simply reviewing all the old quizzes that you took prior to said test. This class also feels like the D-1 year, still clinging to life and trying to drag me back into utter boredom and futility.

Complete Dentures:
-We start this after July 4, so I can’t give any real commentary yet. I have heard that it is a royal pain in the ass though.

Comprehensive Care IIa:
-What semester would be complete without good old comp care? Again, restorative dentistry rules the day, owning up to 50% of our grade. Periodontics squeaks in with 30%, and (get ready for it) Evidence Based Dentistry has broken the bonds of P/F and taken up 20% of our final grade. Gross. I’m hoping it is an easy hundo, much like perio has been so far. Restorative looks to be quite a beast this time around, but we definitely will have a lot more in-class practice time. Our final performance exam will be identical to last semester, except on the maxillary arch (crap). Tuesday afternoons and all day Wednesday is devoted completely to restorative.

There are several new components to this course that I will attempt to elaborate since the other business is old news. These components are all P/F but will probably be quite a bit more relevant than EBD.

An introduction to endo has been jammed into comp care this semester. The actual course begins in the fall. We have had 2 lectures so far and start some clinical exercises next. We were once again reminded that we need about 25 teeth of varying type and in good condition just to pass the course. This blows hard. I have zero connections in the dental world, so I have no assistance in finding these damn teeth. This means I have to call random offices and awkwardly ask if they can spare me some. This is frustrating as many of my classmates have siblings/parents/other family doing all of this work for them. Yea I don’t hold it against them of course; I would be doing the same thing. Unfortunately 90% of the teeth I collect are worthless broken down third molars…thank god I picked up a bunch in Decatur while I was still in undergrad..those are by far the best I have (several anteriors in decent shape). I have one more jar filling back in the burbs, but I am sick of trying to find them. I haven’t sorted yet, so I’m not sure how many good teeth I even have…better get on that because the fall will be here soon.

We will have a radiology clinic session at some point which I believe will introduce us to actually TAKING radiographs. This will be useful for me as I have no experience.

Now there is a clinical component to both comp care as a whole and the perio subsection. In perio, we get partnered up (7ish times in all I believe) with a D-3 or D-4 for the morning or afternoon. We are instructed to watch/help if they ask and simply ‘reflect’ on the experience and answer some random questions in written format for each session. I have had one of these already and it went fine..aside from the fact that the patient was late and spent ½ the morning in radiology.

Now the other clinical aspect is P/F and involves several afternoon/mornings where we actually just get to hang out in our respective group practice clinic and assist whenever we want. We are expected to make impressions, dish out anesthetic, take BP, and other assorted basics. Nothing is kept track of however and there is no arbitrary number to ‘pass.’ We are simply supposed to get our feet wet in the clinics as it were. I like this no pressure/grade approach, because many dental schools won’t get you in the clinics until the very end of your D-2 year or even wait until the D-3 year altogether.

Interacting with live patients is a very different experience and getting into the clinics can be VERY intimidating. Getting rid of that intimidation WELL before entering full time with real patients is a great idea and I applaud our school for making such changes (we are the first class to enter the clinics this early).

That’s about all I can say for now. I do however believe this year is going to be tougher than the D-1 year simply because you are taken completely out of your comfort zone (lecture halls) and thrown into massive loads of pre-patient and real clinical care. I have already skipped lunch twice in the two short weeks we have completed just to finish the day’s assignment. Lab work is also often completed and graded same day, which adds a whole new pressure as well as frustration (because there sure as hell isn’t enough equipment for all of us).

I have other experiences and topics to discuss, but am finding less and less time to work on this. My original intentions were to be much more organized, but I just can’t keep up.

Obligatory apologies for slowness in email response.