Sunday, December 28, 2008

The D-2 Experience IV

My break has been enjoyable and lazy thus far, now as I sit here on a quiet evening, I decided to start filling in my weekly planner for next semester. This is my first time using a portable scheduling device and it probably couldn’t have come at a better time. I have tallied a total of 28 opportunities to schedule my own patients. This is about twice as many chances as last semester and I intend to try harder to fill those blocks. Partly because my time won’t be AS consumed with pre-clinical lab work, and partly because I will be treating patients FULL TIME starting in the summer. So yea, a bit freaked out. I only scheduled TWO appointments last semester and one of those failed. Part of this is due to having a very poor patient pool (only 6 or so patients and most of them are VERY unlikely to come in for routine work), but I must admit, I didn’t try contacting everyone multiple times either because passing all my pre-clinical courses took precedence. So now I will have to make a much stronger effort to contact patients straight out of the gates.

As I filled in this planner, I also took a closer gander at the actual classes I will be taking. The semester looks beefier than last (no more half-days), but I refuse to believe that anything could be worse than the fall. Here we go. I will talk about last semester afterwards so skip ahead if you are still interested in that crap. Keep in mind that the semester won’t start for another week, so this is my PRE-game analysis.

Comprehensive Care II – C : 6 credits
-This is largest value comp care has carried since my first D-1 semester. I fear getting an ‘A’ will be EXTREMELY difficult as much of our grade will probably be determined by treating real patients. Unless I get a hefty boost to my current patient pool, I will DEFINITELY struggle to fill my blank schedule. It appears that there is a large implant component with this course. I am pretty sure that we are the first class where placing implants is required to graduate – so with this in mind, we are getting some good exposure to it next semester. I’m not sure if the current D-3’s had an implant course or not – I hope they did, otherwise we will be the inaugural class…and that usually equals unorganized mess. We have the implant module on Mondays. I will have my clinic sessions/rotations on Tuesday afternoons as well as all day on Fridays. While I still get a bunch of open clinic time, I will also be going on a myriad of rotations such as radiology, endo, perio, pedo, ect.

This is my last opportunity to really get used to the clinics before I become a D-3, I hope to take advantage.

Treatment Planning: 2 credits
-We meet on Monday and Thursday mornings for 2 hours. This is a lecture based class that essentially teaches how to treatment plan. I REALLY wish we had gotten this course LAST SUMMER as there have numerous occasions during several courses where knowledge in this area would have been VERY helpful – not to mention it is mandatory before doing any real work on patients. I really hope they finally explain some of the ins and outs on using the axium computer system this school utilizes.

Ortho: 2 credits
-My first experience in orthodontics begins next semester. We have 2 hours of lecture on Tuesday morning and I will be doing the lab portion on Thursday afternoons. Seeing as ortho originally got me interested in dentistry as a child, I am quite interested to see HOW it really works. I don’t see myself specializing in the field, simply because I am not a huge fan of working with kids – but we will see how it goes.

Oral Surgery Lecture: 1 credit
-Pretty much a lecture based class that meets for an hour on Wednesdays. I assume we will be talking about Oral surgery..yea? My first clinical rotation in OS begins in the summer.

Endo Lecture: 1 credit
-Yes endo continues next semester, but only in lecture format. I assume we are to continue learning about endo! Self-explanatory no?

Fixed Prosthodontics II: 4 credits
-Bleh, I really did not like this class at all last semester. I suppose it had its good moments, but the director spends no time with us in the pre-clinic – yet she grades all our practicals (really tough by the way). It would be nice if there were a correlation between what our instructors in clinic say is good, versus what the actual course director thinks is good..because believe me..there is variation. I also am just really sick of working with plastic teeth and imperfect dentechs. What is truly terrifying though is that last semester we didn’t even have to temporize for performance exams, and I still averaged a 70.5% on them. I think we have to do a three-unit bridge prep/provisional for the final… I don’t want to think about it anymore right now…moving on. We meet on Wednesdays again.

Pharmacology: 4 credits
-This is a very D-1ish like class in that it is all lecture based. We meet for 2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I know this will be a tough class that has the potential to really overwhelm even the best student. I intend to keep up with studying, even if there aren’t quizzes. I have proven to myself that lecture based classes are VERY manageable with proper studying – so I would be disappointed if I don’t do well. It will also be nice to finally have at least a rudimentary understanding of all the drugs people seem to be on – especially in our clinics.

Despite the feeling that things will be less stressful, I still doubt I will do much better grade-wise. The subjective nature of the clinics is not worth getting flustered over – as long as I am happy with my own growth and development, I will deal with average arbitrary scores.

So there you have it – the preview of Spring 09’ – My final test before moving on to the proverbial Xanadu that is D-3 year.

Now for the Fall 08’ memorandum.

I can’t say this enough, but the fall semester (or second D-2 semester) is the champion of tough asses in my book. Everyone seemed to struggle a bit – which made it less frustrating of course. I actually did a bit better than my pre-semester prediction. The only true surprise was that I somehow pulled out an ‘A’ in endo. If anyone has actually been keeping up with my haphazard writings, you may recall I saw NO chance of an ‘A’ in that course before we even started. So that definitely took the sting off of my failure as a prosthodontist. I fortunately locked a ‘B’ in fixed prosth despite pretty much failing both performance exams – this is why studying for written exams is ALWAYS important. However, grades aside, I know I am better at crown preps than those grades show – my practice preps were miles ahead of both exams – I just can’t keep botching up when it counts.

I’m not going to rattle off every class grade, but I ended up doing well enough for my own satisfaction. I didn’t burn any bridges in terms of specializing, which has been my goal since day one. I am proud of my work ethic during the last months and hope it carries over into the years to come, making me a better professional as a result.

While this semester was the toughest, that doesn’t make it the worst. That title still goes to the second semester of the D-1 year. At least now, we are working are asses off towards something of merit – and not biochemistry.

Ok, this post has dragged on long enough; I got some more relaxing to do.

Have a fun and safe New Year celebration!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Eve of Another Finish

At around 11:00 in the morning tomorrow I will have completed the most arduous academic semester of my lifetime. Words cannot begin to express how much I actually learned this semester and how much I worked my proverbial tail off. I spent time in the school every weekend this semester. This is not an exaggeration. Granted, this time would not have been unnecessary if I stayed super late on a few weekdays each week, but I think that would have been even harder. 8-5 is more than enough for me.

So while things were definitely more hectic, I found this to be one of the ‘better’ semesters in terms of feeling like I am finally progressing as a future dentist. The first year is so very difficult to associate with clinical dentistry because we spent so little time learning dentistry. So yea, it is quite refreshing to finally be a dental student. Again, the volume of dental skills I have picked up this semester is more than all three previous semesters combined. I honestly feel like I could do procedures on REAL people at this point. Really though, that is what I need to be doing now, plastic teeth and ‘ideal’ preps really aren’t doing it for me anymore. I still have one more semester as a D-2 and I hear it is a bit lighter than the current beast I am about to finish. Unfortunately I will be jammed in the lecture halls a bit more with courses like pharmacology and treatment planning, but I will get to the schedule at a later date.

Basically I am procrastinating from studying for my final tests tomorrow. My last exam was on Tuesday and I unfortunately have somewhat slipped into vacation mode already. This happens to me EVERY time during finals…I just run out of gas. I of course WILL study more tonight…lest I fail dentures, but at this point, I just want to pass and get the hell on with the next wave of classes. This entire fall routine has gotten very old.

My GPA will definitely take a hit this semester..but that is all relative, barring a terrible showing tomorrow, I won’t get any ‘C’s which is my bottom-line goal. The only course where I seemed to excel above average was endo, but I still am happy with my progress in the other courses. Fixed prosth was the only course I would consider a bit of a failure this semester. I nearly failed the second performance exam despite the fact that my previous two practice preps were near perfect, I just wasn’t bringing my ‘A’ game for the exams (I had to remediate the first). Luckily I destroyed the final written exam which allowed me to secure a ‘B’ despite the sloppy performance exams. Only one remediation all semester really isn’t that bad either considering how tough some of these classes were – but it would have been sweet to get through un-scratched.

I also didn’t do so hot in the restorative portion of comp care which is a bit disheartening as these are the procedures I should be good at by now – but again, what you do on a given day on plastic teeth seems a bit variable depending on WHO actually looks at your work. A ‘C’ from one teacher could very well be an ‘A’ from another. What matters is how YOU feel about your work. I feel pretty good about things at this point – but I obviously have a LONG way to go.

I can tell this semester has sucked because my right eye has been twitching uncontrollably at random intervals throughout is time for a BREAK.

I have my wireless internet hooked up, my PS3 raring for some usage, my bottle of JW blue label just waiting to be sipped, a fireplace yearning to be sat by while it snows; old friends needing some hang-out times, Christmas cookies to devour, New Year’s champagne to toast, and most importantly - zero time in the dental school for 16 days. How’s that for a run-on?

Good to go folks, good to go.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Not Dead...Yet

Missed an entire month..oops. Things have been horribly busy and stressful and frustrating and fun all at once.

Since I still am getting plowed by school, I will sum it up real fast.

1. Had to remediate my first performance exam ever (crown prep)

2. Succesfully finished my last endo performance exam and would have had a near perfect score if my x-ray didn't get destroyed in the grading bag prior to evaluation. Regardless, I did not have to remediate any endo exams which is great. In all honesty, I find this specialty to be the most interesting so far.

3. Had my first patient appointment for a recall exam (and she showed up!) It went about as perfectly as one could hope. She was young and clearly had been taking great care of her there really wasn't much work for me to do! I unfortunately was unable to get any other patients in this semester...oh well, next semester will provide even more opportunities before hitting the clincs full time as a D-3.

4. Finished my first gold is purty

5. I've decided that dental materials is the most drab topic ever to grace a power point presentation. Maybe if I wasn't expected to cram so much other crap into my head while learning a million new clinical skills I could find some of it useful..or interesting...well...probably not.

6. Lots of other random things, but those were the major events of november...the month that flew by.

2.5 weeks left to this hell of a semester before I get a real vacation. Today was a looooong day..tomorrow should be better aside from the oral path final.

This semester is without question, the hardest academic semester of my existance.

I enjoy it more than D-1 year though, because it is practical to my career.

Now I'm off to watch top chef with my lady and not study because my brain refuses to allow one more sentence of pathology inside.