Thursday, January 10, 2019

a day in the life of a dental student: 1st rotation

I am settled right on into my second set of dental rotations, but tomorrow I'm headed back to my first rotation clinic to finish up a case. So can I just talk about my very 1st dental rotation for a minute? Because it was an amazing milestone in this crazy process that is dental school? 
My dental school functions differently from any other school in the country because our senior year dental students are sent off on 8-9week rotations at various facilities throughout the state. It's a combination of a medical school and dental school model. These facilities function as private dental offices. We treat double the amount of patients a day compared to being at the dental school. The only downside is that you are sent "away" from the dental school and therefore the town that you've been calling home for years. or the majority of my classmates, this is hard to deal with. But since I was living long distance from my husband the entirety of dental school, rotations that are taking me "away" from the dental school are actually bringing me closer to home. So for 2 of my 3 rotations I am able to commute, including this one. My first rotation was during October and November, here is that I would share a glimpse with a day in the life of a dental student.  

4:30AM Work Out
Up and at em. If I don't workout first thing in the morning, it will not happen. It just won't. So I do a quick routine in my living room with the exercise ball and then spend 20 minutes on the elliptical in my apartment building gym. 

5AM Prep for the Day 
I shower, pull on my scrubs, and do a quick hair and make-up routine. 
Then I pack my lunch (leftovers cooked by Husband) and start my day by making a green protein smoothie. I normally do protein powder, healthy fats, fiber, and lots of greens. 

6AM Making a Plan 
I have just a few minutes to myself. I pull out my laptop and review my patient charts, then I get myself a little organized with my goals for the day.

6:30 Morning Commute 
I have an hour and 15 minute commute to the clinic. But today, I'm planning to stop for gas along the way so I leave a few minutes early....the sun isn't even up when I leave our loft.

7:55AM Morning Meeting 
I make it to the clinic just in time to drop off my bags and sign into my computer before our brief morning 8AM meeting with the whole dental team...dentists, residents, staff, and dental students. We start seeing patients around 8:15 each day. I'm on emergency call for the morning, which means I see whatever patient walks through the door. 

8:15AM Emergency Root Canal 
I seat my first patient, get their vitals, do a medical history, an exam, and take x-rays. Thankfully, it doesn't take much for me to realize that the patient needs a root canal as the x-ray reveals the cavity has entered the pulp. I present my findings to my Attending and assume that we will be writing a prescription for pain management and bring the patient back when there is more time. Boy am I wrong. My Attending tells me to do the root canal now. What!?!! At this point, I had only done one root canal and that was under the instruction of a kind hearted endodontist = a dentist who specializes in root canals. And you guys, I had prepared for that appointment for weeks...studying all the things and practicing on plastic simulated teeth. Even still, it took me 6 hours over multiple appointments to complete. So the idea of doing one right now totally warrants a mini panic attack. But this is what I'm here for, to be pushed out of my little bubble of comfort. I remind myself that it's only a one-rooted tooth and convince myself that it will be easy. 
Unfortunately, I can't get the patient completely numb. Their whole face is numb and ironically enough, the patient can't feel me drilling on their tooth, but if I were to put pressure on the tooth with my finger-that would hurt. Being careful not to do anymore than necessary, I drill a hole into the tooth right down to the pulp. I irrigate the canal and pull the entire pulp out of the tooth in one fell swoop. My patient stops me to ask what I did and tells me that it doesn't hurt anymore. That provided instant relief, which I'm thankful for! I spend a little more time instrumenting and cleaning out the canal. Then I place medication in the tooth and seal everything up with a temporary filling. The patient will come back in a couple of weeks to have the canal filled with synthetic material. As I walk the patient out, he shakes my hand and ask me if I can please be his dentist the next time he comes. All the heart emojis ❤️ 😍❤️😍 Moments like this makes the morning of stress worth it. 

9:45AM Wisdom Tooth Extraction 
As much as I want to bask in my success of the morning, there are more emergency patients in the waiting area, just hoping to be seen. After a quick exam and x-ray on my next patient, it's decided that a wisdom tooth needs to be pulled. Fortunately, I get the tooth out easily enough.

10:52AM More Extractions 
My last emergency appointment of the day also needs extractions. This is common for emergency patients and I pull 3 teeth. 

12:15PM Lunch?
I sit at my little cubicle in the student office and type up my patient notes from my morning appointments while having a coffee and digging into my lunch. As soon as I'm done, I pop into the lab to evaluate a case from yesterday. I package it up and get the lab script done to off to the lab. 

1PM Denture Repair 
My next patient is a denture repair. It's a clean break so I pop into the lab and patch the denture myself, making sure to get everything nice and pretty and smooth before I return it to the patient. 

3PM Restorations 
This particular clinic does a lot of restorative, so placing fillings is a good easy procedure to end the day on. Happy to hang up my gown, mask, and loupe for the day and head home. 

6:22PM Home 
I arrive home, just in time to see the sun setting from our dock. Literally, the sun was rising when I left home and is setting when I come back, so no Vitamin D for me today. 

7:30PM Study 
I spend just a few hours studying at the coffee table. I sit here for the remainder of the night, taking a break just long enough to have some dinner. 

10PM Bed
This cutie is just calling to me to cuddle him, so I head to bed and fall asleep with my sweet puppy in my arms. 

If I were to share the full story of my first dental rotation, it would be an epic saga of glory and triumph. success and defeat. joy and sorrow. exhaustion and more exhaustion. But since I don't exactly have the time to write an entire book, it was fun to share my average day in the life of a dental student.  

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