How to survive dental school?

Discussion in 'Dental' started by hopefully, Nov 13, 2002.

  1. hopefully

    hopefully Member
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    Hi fellow dental students,

    I came to dental school with the intent on specializing (like most students), but I have to say I'm already overwhelmed with the work load . I feel tired everyday from being in class 8-5 pm and then going home and studying and repeating the cycle everyday. Don't get me wrong; I want to work hard, but it's just non-stop day in day out. I'm only in my first year so I have a long road ahead of me. I'm really happy and grateful I'm in dental school, but I never imagined it would be this difficult. For those of you intent on specializing how do you maintain the motivation to help you through the rough times?
     
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  3. Stanford Fencer

    Stanford Fencer Senior Member
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    which school are you attending?
     
  4. gryffindor

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    hello hopefully,

    I understand exactly how you feel. When I started two years ago, I knew dental school would be a lot of work and competitive, but I was overwhelmed at the amount of work. And, like you, the never ending cycle of sitting in lecture from 8 - 5 followed by sitting in the library from 7 - 12 am got to me.

    So what kept me going? I'm not sure it I can identify exactly what factor made me want to do well. Let's see if I can explain it. I'm a goal setting kinda person. So, my goal for first semester was to do the best that I could do and see where that landed me. After the first round of tests, I quickly learned that I had to change my study habits. Gone were the essay exams, instead now I had to learn how to memorize for multiple choice. Half the battle was also taking the exams - going through each question meticulously reading the questions and answer choices so I didn't miss the easy stuff because i didn't read the question right. Don't get fooled by the "All of the following are true except" business and make a stupid error; READ THE QUESTION CAREFULLY!

    I also realized that I definitely had to put in my time, but I put it in where it would be best rewarded. Let me explain. Gross Anatomy was something that I dreaded and had to spend hours and hours just being able to grasp one lecture. The subject just didn't appeal to me at all. And it was worth 6 credits, the largest class on the transcript. However, we were also taking 16 more credits of other stuff (Histo, Biochem, Dental Anatomy, etc) that didn't require nearly as much time to study completely and was far more interesting to me. So I decided I had to make some sacrifices - I'd put all my effort into shooting for an A in all the other classes. I continued to spend time with Gross and tried my best, but didn't go crazy with it because it wasn't worth my time to struggle for an A in Gross while letting the other classes suffer.

    Classes that had quizzes, I made sure I earned my points on the quizzes and didn't blow them off, because I handled learning two lectures for a quiz better than learning 15 lectures for a midterm.

    It's hard to convey, but basically it comes down to how well can you memorize stuff. And if it's like my school where everything is multiple choice, you have to know the material to the point where you could recognize it on a test, not necessarily recite it word for word. Many of my classmates and I found that while taking the test, we would sorta "visualize" the notes pertaining to that question and try to remember what sort of words/topics were on that particular page and even how they were arranged on the page.

    Now, after 5 semesters, this is how I sum up my "goal" - Try your hardest, give it your best shot and shoot for the A. This way, many times you'll succeed and get the A, but even if you stumble, you'll still get a B but a B is better than a C and way better than failing.

    And here's something it took me a while to do, but can be helpful. Figure out who the serious upperclassmen are and ask them how certain classes are, how the exams are, what to study, etc. You have to find the right people to ask though - because often times the upperclassmen will forget what they went through and be like "Oh, the Nutrition course, whatever, you don't have to study for that, it was so easy." Or they'll give you the "As long as you pass, you'll get your DDS." You have to find the ones that can guide you, as in "Definitely read the text for Occlusion, he takes questions out of the assigned chapters" or "Don't bother with the book for Dental Anatomy, the questions come straight from the handouts." But it took me three semesters before I figured out who these upperclassmen were.

    It's cruel and unfair that it has to be about the numbers when it comes to specializing, but is sounds like you are on the right track in that you are concerned with doing well now. DON'T GIVE UP!!! :cool: You'll make it, but you have to put in your time and hard work. I hope this helps, let us know how it's going for you.
     
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  5. Kung Foo

    Kung Foo Mad Scientist...
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    Hopefully,

    Although I don't have any advice to give on specializing, you're definatly not alone in, well, being overwhelmed. I'm a first year at ohio state, and it's taken a lot for me to even adjust to the huge lecture days... like today - 7:30-12:30 lecture and then lab in the afternoon (impressions/casts), and tonight we were in evening clinic doing exams on each other from 5- 7:30. It's a crazy schedule, and I need about 20 more hrs a week to get all of my studying done and have a semblance of a social life (although i do try to take one night a week off). Dental school is certainly not for the faint of heart (although i have hope when i see the 3rd and 4th years - they have a lot more time... or are just better at managing it). It seems like time management is really the key to getting things done well.... and not putting anything off until the night (or week for anatomy...) before. On the brighter side, it's great that we have so many fun "toys" (aka instruments) in addition to the science courses - the lab work really balances things out for me - it's all work, but at least it's not ALL memorization and book work. (one guy in our class "quit" for 2 days, but he's back now... quite a few upperclassmen said they hated dental school for the first quarter or so, but now they like it... go figure) Hang in there!!!
     
  6. Big_Poppa DDS

    Big_Poppa DDS Senior Member
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  7. ouzo1821

    ouzo1821 Junior Member
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    I have the same greuling schedule and Im still trying to change my own habits of procrastinating. You get back from school and the last thing you want to do is open a book. But there are many things you can do. I dont know how the system is in your school, but if your as lucky as I was to go to classes with the med students, you know right there that it is not imperative to know that material to the extent that they have to know it. Secondly, you need to get sleep. Its a fine line in many of these schools between becoming a dds and winding up in the neural institute. So here is an example of how to survive dental school.

    1. Make your own schedule!!!
    If you share class with med students and have the syllabus and some idea of what will be asked (by upperclassmen) DONT GO...get some rest! Its stuff you can study at nite.
    2. Concentrate on your studying during the week and leave the labwork to the weekend. The weekend is your time to relax!
    3. Plan on sleeping immediately after your day is over. Is class over at 6? Get your sleep in and study during the am. You feel less of a time restraint if you study in the morning hrs.
    4. learn the material well...do whatever helps u..charts..take notes...and always review
    5. dont eat heavy meals that will make u more tired and less productive
    6.try to study alittle bit at least everyday...3 hr minimum
    7. dont get sidetracked by what classmates tell you "Oh the whole class hasnt studied...dont worry" "just read this and youll be fine" NOT!!! Study everything!
    8. Have a hobby...download songs, go jogging in the morning, cook.
    9. get an answering machine and have the volume off...trust me it helps.
    10. if u prefer to study before u sleep...try going to some library or coffee shop instead of studying in your room to raise your spirits and make it interesting.

    Hope this helped. Good luck!!

    Oh and drugs...thats a NO NO.
     
  8. badaboom

    badaboom 未来の歯科医
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    1st year eh?

    u should be having the time of ur life rite now

    wait till 2nd year, it gets worse
     
  9. badaboom

    badaboom 未来の歯科医
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    diet coke helps

    regular coke gives u extra calories which adds extra pounds if u dont work out

    go out on weekends, if there's no exam on mondays.

    gotta get out of the room and campus to refresh urself once in a while.
     
  10. anamod

    anamod Senior Member
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    This is my 2 cents on this matter. Sit back and really think about if you truely want to specialize or not. I came in to dental school with the attitude of "I'm going to do well to keep my options open." this attitude has rapidly changed. The people in my class that are tweakers about getting into a specialty and getting an A on every Histo test are not enjoying themselves. My group of friends and I take the approach of we will really learn the information that will make us good dentist's, such as oral anatomy. But I'm sorry I could care less about histo or biochemistry or gross anatomy other than head and neck. We just got back our Oral anatomy midterms and my group friends and I got some of the highest scores in the class, we also got back our histo midterm and got close to the lowest score in the class. I personally study less than I did in undergrad in dental school. I study about an hour a day and cram before exams. I still think about specializing, but I realize that when I garduate I can work for a couple of years and go back and specialize if I truely don't like gp. I guess it comes down to a person's own goals and ambitions. I'm having the time of my life in dental school so far, I just feel sorry for the people who have to stress out about every little point on an exam. This is my opinion.
     
  11. Yah-E

    Yah-E Toof Sniper
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    Hopefully:

    Hang in there my friend, I just read this quote from DENTAL ECONOMICS publication yesterday and would to share it with you:

    "A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes."

    Our dental school education experience is dictated by what we bring to it. It can be boring and repetitive if you just go to lectures and labs and then go home. OR it can be fun and refreshing if you get involved and start to meet more of your classmates/colleagues. I can relate and empathize with you in many circumstances, I'm also a D-1, I too am interested in specializing, and I too feel the rigorous work load!

    Please let me recommend the following tactics to resolve some of your stress on work load and hopefully boost your motivation:

    1) CLASSMATES: Take advantage of your classmates and what they have to offer. I believe all of you D-1s know what I am talking about, as the President of my class, I see my classmates tends to aggregate in groups or clicks that they're comfortable with. To certain extend, some groups don't even socialize with others. If you're in a click or if you don't have a click, try to branch out and meet people. Feel overwhelmed or depressed, try meeting more new classmates and get into study groups. You'd be amazed how much studying in groups or making new friends willl increase your happiness (to have some FUN) and your studying ability (to LEARN)!

    2) ORGANIZATIONS: Get involved in organizations!!! You may think, man, I don't have enough time in a day as it is, I don't want to get involved in other things or events!! WRONG!!! To stuff more responsibilities in your daily schedule, to certain extend, will only force you to be more organized! Plus, joining organizations like DENTAL FRATERNITIES and/or AMERICAN STUDENT DENTAL ASSOCIATION (ASDA) will only help you do better in your classes. Trust me on this one!

    I joined an international dental fraternity, PSI OMEGA, and with only being a member for a month, I've had tutoring events for basic science courses, access to old exams, upper classmen sharing advice, and many social functions (which we'll address later). ASDA, again another access to gain expose to many upper classmen for advice and help! Take advantage of this!

    3) SOCIAL: Have some fun!! I can not stress this more! Obviously we as D-1s know that there's always something we can read or study when we don't have an exam coming up, but take some time to relax or PARTY!!! Again, meet more classmates or upper classmen or join an organization, all that will introduce you to many new faces and possibly even new friendships! Work hard and play hard! Fun does not necessarily equal alcohol, just relax and have fun in your own way! You've gotta have fun!

    I am a strong believer that the more I put in, the more I'll get out of it! Get involved and meet more people will help you tremedously in psychologically, emotionally, and academically. Please do not try to tackle your dental education by yourself, take advantage of your friends, colleagues, professors, and/or even family members! Reach out and ask for help.

    You asked how do I stay motivated? For me, I hang out with my classmates in and outside of classes, I shadow OMS department at my school to gain further exposure to the specialty that I'm interested in, I cram and study hard for exams and get nothing below a 80/100 in all my quizes, exams, and projects, but most importantly, I stay motivated due to the people around me are motivated!! My classmates and I will always compliant about something or that something is never right, but we always keep one another motitivated and provide positive energy.

    Also figure out which specialty that you want to explore! If it's Endo, Ortho, OMS, and Pedo, then you'll need to put in more energy to get them 90s/100s!! If it's Perio or Prosth, then you don't have to aim as high. If you already know what you would like to specialize in, then go into that department, if your school has that department, and again, meet the faculty members and the residents to gain exposure.

    To sum, ask youself if you're doing the following:

    1) are you meeting new people in other groups or upper classes?
    2) are you studying enough or too much?
    3) are you having fun or socializing?
    4) did you join any orgainzation(s)?

    If you're only doing one or two of the above, then try to do the others that you're not doing!

    Stress is only stress when you make it to be, remember, it's not the circumstances, IT'S YOUR ATTITUDE that counts! Please keep us updated and maybe inform us more of your situation in detail so we can all address your concerns more specifically and accurately.

    Good luck!
    :cool:
     
  12. gryffindor

    Dentist 10+ Year Member

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    Yah-E - well said. You've figured out in half of a semester what it took me an entire year to realize on surviving dental school.

    But hang in there. It does get better. An upperclassmen told me during second year "Third year rocks." And she couldn't have been more right. As a third year, I have spent this weekend doing a whole lot of nothing related to my school work (and it is already Sunday morning). No way this would've happened first and second years - I had to put in at least 6 - 10 hours of studying/labwork on Saturdays just to try and stay afloat. This year, there are many days when I come home and do no studying and just watch TV, and I'm not set back in anyway because of it.

    But I know it is hell the first two years. My roommate is a first year dental student and I feel so bad for them because they definitely are feeling the stress and pressure of trying to balance so many classes at once.
     
  13. Student Forever

    Student Forever Junior Member
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    Hello everyone,

    I'm not in school yet, but I wish I had you as my upperclassmen when I am accepted.
    I just wanted to say that you, guys, are outstanding and great people!!!:clap: :clap: :clap:
    I applied to a couple of dental schools here in the US, and I was worried about the whole process of going through an american dental school. But after reading your advice, I feel so much better. I'm so glad that there are people like you who are willing to share their experience and thoughts and to help others.
    Thank you for being there for us.
     
  14. hazelmei

    hazelmei Member
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    i too am a first year dental student... i don't plan on specializing but i do know how it feels to be overwhelmed and extremely stressed... I am having a hard time getting rid of my procrastinating habits.. i still study like I'm in undergrad... anyways, we're all stressed right now, but we will all get through it... just try to take it one day at a time
    :)
     
  15. Major Groove

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    As an undergrad getting through high-level Bio classes like Pathogenic and Molecular I learned that my old habits were not working. I got C's across the board on the first tests and wondered why. Well, in Chemistry or Physics you can learn an abstract concept and practice, practice, practice a formula and that's your ticket to an A. But in Patho, especially I felt like I was back in grade school.

    Actually my prof recommended revisiting some grade-school studying methods for the memorization and sheer volume of material. It worked! He gave me blank charts to fill out, I drew diagrams over and over and over and over until test day when I would just draw my diagram on the scrap paper and use it to answer the questions. I got an A on that test!

    So that's my plan studying-wise: focus on committing this stuff to memory and constantly keeping track of where I am falling behind.

    I actually developed a VBA (computer programming language) program in Excel that turns simple "Scientific term" = "description of the term" into multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, etc. No effort required, just enter your notes and click a button and boom: you are taking a test.

    It is an easy test, but I had success with that method. Where last semester I started out the usual way by studying the book intensely, outlining, flash cards, I augmented that with the drawing and diagramming and the practice tests, and my grades got better and better.

    I'm hoping these methods will serve me in Dental school as well. It sounds like they will. Please comment if something could use improvement.

    BALANCE - As far as surviving psychologically I am starting NOW with rituals that I must continue, like a 45 min walk in the morning (followed by a stiff coffee.) The plan is no matter what I absolutely must walk and get my heart rate up.

    I share this time with my wife, and it is not only a healthy habit, but something we have to share at a time when I will be consumed and sometimes seldom around.

    I am building an office in my house where I can study and keep my older materials organized in an archive. When I finish a course I'll simply stick all the notes in a file and shut the door. It's there if I need it and doesn't take up any space/time if I don't.

    I am planning to ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS eat a meal with my wife. Again, no matter what it has to happen, almost religiously.

    I anticipate that there will be days when we will see each other twice: the morning walk and the evening meal, but we WILL see each other and focus on each other for those brief periods of time.

    Another silly and powerful idea from Kindergarten: a count-down board.

    You might think, "ah, that's kid stuff!", but when I am racking my brain and feeling burnt out, my wife and I will have a constant reminder that there are 46, now 45, 44, ..., 20, 19, 18... days left until we can chill out.

    I'm also planning on networking with fellow married students and seeking out folks who I like and whose spouses we both like as well. She is a stronger networking person than me and will have more time, so I will use her strength with socialization to introduce me to people I may not have thought to talk to.

    Of course I will do it myself, too, but she blows me away at it! She's a pro, seriously.

    I'm, like, kinda okay at it. We're going to be a team, baby!
     
  16. Dr Reanimated

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    Anyone who is wondering about the excel method the person above mentioned.

    http://quizlet.com/

    It does the same thing :)
     
  17. Andre3k

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    Do you realize how old this thread is.

    The person who started this thread probably has been practicing for 4 years already.
     
  18. teh dentist

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    lmao, i was thinking the same thing.

    it would be cool ifthe OP chimed in!
     
  19. Streetwolf

    Streetwolf Ultra Senior Member
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    How do you bump an 8 year old thread and NOT know you're bumping an 8 year old thread?

    Seriously, make a new one.
     
  20. DrReo

    DrReo "Thread Necromancer"
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    Ehhh. You don't count after a while. Seven and eleven for first and second semester, respectively.
     
  21. Stephie3

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    you survive by actually studying, practicing lab stuff, and not being a fat lazy cow.
     
    #20 Stephie3, Mar 19, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  22. Stephie3

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    oh yeah and being unwarrantedly abusive to other girls in your class who are thriving because they aren't lazy cows isn't going to make your grades any better.
     
    #21 Stephie3, Mar 19, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  23. DrReo

    DrReo "Thread Necromancer"
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    All depends what your back ground is. There's waxing lab, oral anatomy, histology, biochem, some liberals, along with gross anatomy. Time management. (Almost) everyone gets through it, don't worry.
     
  24. Dr Reanimated

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    What kinda liberal classes? I thought we would be done with that in college.
     
  25. DrReo

    DrReo "Thread Necromancer"
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    public health, how to be leaders of the community, diversity, etc. Every school has some variation of this
     
  26. panino

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    This is so very true. After awhile, it ceases to matter. All I want to know is how much time I have before the next test. That's how I tell time.

    HAHAHA. I know it makes me bitter, but I agree! I've seen way too much unnecessary drama, and it doesn't apply strictly to grades either.
     

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