That being said, I would like to take a nostalgic look at my first year. Grab your cup of morning Joe because you might be in for a long post . . .
To start off on a happy note, this is my first free summer vacation since senior year of high school - well, by summer vacation, I mean 6 short weeks until school starts June 4 -> July 11th = shortest summer break ever. In undergrad, I busted my bum to graduate a year early, meaning I had to take summer classes (like gen physics, psych, an upper level psych, soc, business management, etc) to get the needed credits.
To be fair, I did have a 'vacation' after undergrad and before starting dental school. That being said, that summer I got married, honeymooned to Vegas with my bride, moved to Indy, and developed a horrible allergy to my contacts...
|Sometimes we can be serious. Just not now|
Man, I was SO excited for school to start! So excited that I even signed up for a 3 day long PBL training session during the summer (there was only ~15-20 of us and it was mainly to train the 4th year facilitators). But hey, I got paid for it ;)
First Semester D1
To me, the hardest thing about starting dental school was how much my study techniques had to change in order to do well on exams. In undergrad, I could get As by paying attention in lecture, doing the assigned homework, then studying for 5 hours each night 2 or 3 days before the exam. In dental school, we have one five hour exam every two weeks ('biweeklies') over all of our material. And because we do block scheduling, that can mount up to 15-20 lectures per exam!
The list of classes we had first semester:
- Head and Neck Anatomy
- Molecular Cell Bio
- Dental Materials
- Tooth Morphology
- Single Tooth Direct
- Normal Oral Histology
- Craniofacial Growth and Development
As you can see, there is a lot of science and a little dentistry. We didnt start Single Tooth Direct (our first drilling and filling class) until after we took tooth morphology and gnathology.
Another change from undergrad to professional school is lab work. Yes, I have had my fair share of easy biology labs and slightly harder chemistry labs, but when you say lab work in dental school, you are talking about being down in the wet lab or bench lab drilling on teeth (druing your first year) and making dentures and stuff second year. First semester lab work was not very bad at all - mainly perfecting waxing up teeth. In retrospect, since this is a retrospective post, I wish I would have spent longer outside of lab time perfecting my wax-up technique. In practice, this is a worthless skill, but during second semester (and second year), while making indirect cast restorations, it would have helped tremendously. If not waxing teeth, time spent in lab was learning the idiosyncrasies between each and every tooth - every detail, every cusp, every everything. The learning curve for manual dexterity is exponential. If you suck at using your hands to carve out fine details, it will come, but with a LOT of practice. I would say I was average with my hand skills, but now, after my full D1 year is complete, I am 100x, if not more, better!
Second Semester D1
Second semester was a breath of fresh air compared to first semester. Instead of the very poor quality of professors we had first semester, IMO, we had 100x better professors this semester as well as having more science classes focused on the human body as a whole and more time spent down in lab. Where last semester we had maybe 80% didactic and 20% lab work, this past semester we had 65% didactic and 45% lab work - which I prefer the lab work because it is more geared towards our future profession.
Here is the list of courses we had:
- Single Tooth Indirect
- Systematic Approach to Biological Sciences I (SABS I)
- OFB II
- Infectious Diseases
- Caries Diagnosis and Management
- Caries Etiology and Histology
The big change between first and second semester is the hand skills needed to be successful down in lab. No longer did we just drill and fill, we now drilled, filled with temp, waxed up, invested, casted, polished, finished, cemented. . . 10x the amount of steps and 10x the amount of manual dexterity needed.
Finally it felt like we were doing dentistry!!! We were learning about caries, how to manage them, how to interpret radiographs, how to educate patients on proper brushing and fluoride use, and how to do complex procedures down in lab! First semester was hell and second semester was not much easier but it was way more rewarding.
As far as free time is concerned, there was no MAJOR difference between first and second semester except that second semester had less free time due to the increased amount of time spent down in the bench lab practicing or working on projects.
Which semester did I like better?
Because of the increased time in lab!
Is dental school hard?
Of course it is! Or else it would be easy to get in here in the first place!
Would I do it all over again?
If it meant living my dream to become a dentist? Hells Yes!
What was my favorite part of the first year?
Doing the indirect casting restorations like the gold onlay and full gold crown
What is my favorite part of IUSD?
Not PBL, that is for certain. I would say the camaraderie but that is corny and overused. I must say that IUSD is not the best dental program in the US but I would agree that it is one of the better ones (how would I know though, right?). So my favorite part of IUSD is the ease in which we are able to progress and learn the skills and knowledge required to be competent.
What would I improve on most of IUSD?
I would remove PBL and replace it with various courses including business management and more time spent in the screening clinic - taking pt's history's - and in the comp care clinics assisting.
What is my expectations for second year?
A lot of hard work and late nights studying
I hope this blog has given my family and friends a glimpse into my stressful and rewarding life as a dental student and given other dental students or pre-dents a glimpse into the IUSD program and my growing skills as a proficient dentist.
Summer is treating me well, lots of sleep, no need for copious amounts of coffee, the ability to relax.