The most important tip I could give to anybody concerned with getting through dental school would be ‘time management.’ Nothing is hard to understand, there is just so much information coming from every direction. If you know how to manage time, you will be successful in your school; this includes developing hand-skills.
It is a pity that dental school education in itself is a horrible failure at time management. I have wasted so many hours with poor curriculum coordination and fluff classes that I could have applied to practical things, like NOT being at school for once. This summer has been much worse in the organization department compared with the bulk of our D-1 year.
First off, the schedule we were given is unreliable. I have showed up at 8am only to be told that this is ‘study time’ or ‘there is no class.’ We also are spending too much time just putzing around the clinics. I was excited at first, but after my 4th trip of ‘assisting,’ I would much rather be studying for boards. Basically I always get assigned to a corner in the clinic that has no room to squeeze a chair in on the other side of the operatory. So I end up standing. By the way, I’m taller than average, so I can see jack shit while observing. At least I get to provide suction while not being able to see, and having to bend over awkwardly whilst every muscle in my back screams in agony. Let’s not forget how fun it is to fetch instruments and equipment for the upperclassmen. Seriously though, I can’t blame them – I’d be doing the same thing. The faculty never told them we were coming, and what the hell are they supposed to do? I know I wouldn’t want some newbie slowing down the appointment (which already proceeds at tortoise speeds). But to put a positive spin on it, every student I have worked with has been really nice, and the faculty in my group practice are fantastic (at least so far). This greatly eases many of the concerns I had about entering the clinics full time.
I am completely digressing though. Yes, sitting in a hot clinic wearing full PPE for several hours essentially watching nothing and suctioning teeth you can’t see isn’t very enlightening. HOWEVER, I at least am seeing what the clinics are like..and getting a basic idea of how smooth (or un-smooth) things go. This is the positive I take.
I draw the line however at this week. Thursday afternoon, a few classmates and I had planned to attend a luncheon with all the incoming D-1 research students. I am not really doing research anymore, but realize how beneficial it would have been to have any D-2 actually talk to me when I was getting ready to start (for example..to tell me NOT to waste my money buying 90% of the text books). But wait, this commitment had to be cancelled because I was told that all D-2s were required to attend a perio lecture DURING OUR LUNCH HOUR. This wasn’t an ‘actual’ lecture. Essentially, we were given several handouts and told that we need to find our own patient for a prophy exam we will be doing this fall. The handouts explained everything, and a monkey could have figured out what we needed to do if you had just sent him an email. Making us all file into a lecture hall to explain something so mundane is a terrible waste of everyone’s time. Sure people may have questions, but it isn’t that difficult to seek out the department head. Lunch was provided although I didn’t get any because certain individuals take it upon themselves to grab about 5 portions worth of food before everyone has gotten through the line. I was taught growing up that this is a rude behavior, but maybe that’s just me.
So Friday morning we had to go to ‘cultural competency.’ I showed up at 9, was told that I had to take an online course in July that will eat up several hours of my limited free time….and that was it. We were done in 15 minutes. Did I really need to be present for this? Attendance was mandatory…so yes. Again, email would have been a bit more time efficient. It’s bad enough that I am required to take this course during a semester that is already busier than it should be, but do I really need to be at the school to be told these things?
I realize I am bitching excessively, but I am just tired of wasting so much time with unnecessary frills in the curriculum. There is a board exam coming up that we get no time off to study for…pre-clinic work leaves me tired enough as it is – c’mon school, sharpen up please.
Aside from these rants, things are going really well though. I actually am enjoying this semester more than the first two (simply because I like NOT sitting in lectures all day). I am doing ‘ok’ with my board review up to this point…but I have less than 2 months left and a LONG way to go. Take out the studying for boards, and this semester would actually be, dare I say it, fun.
I think the overall mood of this post is reflective of the depression I feel being in school all summer. This last week was the nicest weather we have had all year, and I spent it sweating away in the pre-clinic, followed by studying dental decks at home. I see all these other young people walking around, enjoying the breeze, having fun, living normal lives and I wonder…what was I thinking?
But as mentioned several times before, there is an ending. That is the glimmer of hope that keeps me running through the toughest times in school, it is only four years. Actually, only three more for me now. The time also goes by at such high speeds, you don’t even really realize HOW much you have learned until you start rattling off random dental lingo without a second thought.
I should also reemphasize that I don’t regret coming to UIC at all, dental school itself is just a real pain in the ass – and I’m sure that it is no different anywhere else in the country.
Back to studying on a Saturday in June