Friday, August 25, 2017

dental school lately : vol. 1

It feels that there has been so much going on for me with dental school lately with hitting a milestone marking a year away, a year back and starting a new semester. And I need to start documenting all these big changes.
When I first created this space, I blogged about dental school semi-frequently, but then this space became my stress-free zone, which meant talking about and sharing anything but dental school. But, I would be remise if I didn’t document my journey. I’m in a unique position with being a woman, a black woman and pursuing a career where there are few people like me. As I’ve been getting back into sharing more and more about this journey, I want to do regular updates, hopefully bi-monthly. I’m hoping that this gives motivation to others, but also serves as a time capsule for me to look back on when graduation day finally comes. 

Brushing up On
Seriously, brushing up on all the things, there never seems to be an end to the knowledge that I need to just know. And I especially feel like I'm trying to play catch-up from all the info I lost while taking a year away. 

In the Classroom
We're still in the classroom about 10-12 hours a week. But compared to the 40 hours a week I started out with, I'm not complaining. Plus, what we're learning in the classroom feels so much applicable now that we're seeing patients. But thank the heavens, we’ve finally transitioned from taking weekly exams to having bi-weekly exams. And while having a test every other week still isn’t ideal, it feels so much more manageable.

In the Lab
Over the past few months, I've completed courses in prosthodontics (crowns & bridges), pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and implant dentistry. Prosthodontics and pediatric dentistry are notoriously difficult courses at my school so I was happy to complete those relatively unscathed...relatively. 
Recently, we've moved on towards learning how to make dentures and partial dentures for patients, which is honestly so frustrating to me because there seems to be a million steps, many of which are impossible to truly learn during a simulation exercise. The reality is that some things just have to learned on a real patient, which is so stressful. In the meantime, I'm planning on spending a lot more time with my textbooks. 

In the Clinic
This past summer, I completed my first full semester of treating patients. As a third year dental student (D3), I see patients 3 days a week. I have my own patients assigned to me and I'm responsible for every step of the process from scheduling to completing all dental procedures (under supervision of course) to filling out all the paperwork. And oh the paperwork, I'm kind of drowning in it. Writing up patient notes, attempting to understand insurance billing, med consults, payment never ends. But I'm grateful for it all the same and willing to do whenever is needed to create the best experience I can for my patients.  
Every 2-3 weeks, there is an interruption from seeing my own patients where I do a one week rotation through one of the following disciplines; pediatric dentistry, oral & maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, and our screening clinic. Sometimes, I'm annoyed to be taken away from my patients, and other times, it's a nice break to focus on something different. 
I'm nervous, but also really excited about the prospect of sharing regular dental school updates, not just the good stuff, but the struggles too because those are real and they matter, in some cases even more than the wins do.

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