SmileyDoc

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Anyone here ever fail their regional licensing exam? How do you recover from that and move on to try it again.
 

BlueToothHunter

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Check this out:

http://www.ada.org/members/ed/students/handbook/handbook_newgrad.pdf

Current practicing dentists have talked about their feelings when they failed their Boards. One of them was politically polished to make it sound like the failing was all your fault... the other sounded more intimate and more down to earth in my opinion.

Failing Boards isn't the end of it all... keep your head up! Cheers.
 
OP
S

SmileyDoc

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I don't have acccess to that site...can you copy and paste it?


BlueToothHunter said:
Check this out:

http://www.ada.org/members/ed/students/handbook/handbook_newgrad.pdf

Current practicing dentists have talked about their feelings when they failed their Boards. One of them was politically polished to make it sound like the failing was all your fault... the other sounded more intimate and more down to earth in my opinion.

Failing Boards isn't the end of it all... keep your head up! Cheers.
 

BlueToothHunter

10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2004
389
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One Candidate’s Story: Failing the Clinical Exam
Elizabeth A. Shapiro, DDS
No one really wants to talk about failing! In my class, the news trickled out slowly. I took
my boards the summer after graduation, 1988. About five weeks later, I found out I had failed a
practical portion—a removable denture. My school had a formal remediation program, but I would
have had to pay tuition for another semester and remain on campus. Due to the time and expense, I
did not formally remediate, but I was fortunate enough to have a sympathetic instructor to advise
me. He helped me get some school space to practice and went over the steps with me. Although it
wasn’t a big, formal program I did feel he really helped me and certainly made me feel that I was
competent.
Of course, I could not retake the boards until December. My lease was up, and I had an associateship
lined up in my hometown, so I moved home. I had to tell the dentists who were expecting
me that I had failed the exam, and ask them if they were willing to wait for me to begin practicing
with them in January. Once again, I was very fortunate—they were very supportive. They helped
order teeth from the lab and even found a patient for me when I retook the examination, because
when you’re not in a school situation, these things can be difficult.
Thankfully, I was not reduced to doing what some individuals have to do to get a patient—
we call it “poaching.” That’s when you hang around the school’s patient admissions center, where
they screen the new patients, and identify an individual who might be a suitable board patient. If
you find someone, it’s time to “beg!” First, you have to ask the dentist in charge that day for permission,
then you have to prevail upon the patient to let you use them in the exam. It may sound
funny, but it’s not a good situation—identifying a patient by their lesion is not ideal dentistry by any
means!
For me, like for most new graduates, failing the exam also had a big financial impact:
you’re finished with school, no longer qualify for student aid, yet you’re not qualified to do much in
the arena of employment. You know that the clock is starting to tick as far as repaying your student
loans; however, you are not employable! Your only option—and it is rare—is to work as a dental
assistant or for an office that does a lot of lab work, like pouring of models, that you have the skills
to do and are allowed to do. Like many individuals in this situation, I took a job that had nothing to
do with dentistry—I worked at a campground as a recreation coordinator.
Not surprisingly, when I did retake my exam, there were a number of people from my class
there. In some ways, I was embarrassed to have failed, but obviously I was not alone! And I certainly
believe that you can be an excellent student and an excellent dentist and still not succeed in
passing the examination on the first try. I did pass the second time and began practicing soon after.
Obviously, my introduction to the real world of dentistry did not scar me for life. I have
been happy in my profession and have been very involved in organized dentistry. I am always
hopeful that, in working together, we can make every dentist’s welcome into our field a little better.

EXCERPT FROM AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY: FAILING THE CLINICAL EXAM
Anonymous at the author’s request
Consider the stakes presented. I went to four years of college. Then four more years of dental school. Friends
married while I locked myself in academic buildings. I passed the national written boards. The only step remaining lay in the
clinical licensing boards. After that, a level of independence existed and potential recovery from burnout. I had to drive to
Bend, Oregon (three hours from the dental school) in order to find a place to review for boards undisturbed and at peace
with the surroundings.
I wanted to live in Oregon. Over my four dental school years, the licensing board reduced the number of examined
procedures but raised the examination fee. Successful exam candidates could practice in Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Utah,
Arizona, New Mexico and Montana after paying a state application fee. Total board costs went over $2000. Plus, patients
must be secured by the candidates. Everyone who had taken this board in the past said the right patient made all the
difference.
Three types of patients were required by the Western Regional Examination Board (WREB): a gold patient, an
amalgam patient and a perio patient. These portions of the exam represented 18 points of a possible 24. The remaining
points came from a root canal procedure performed from beginning to end on an extracted tooth and from evaluating full/
partial denture models on articulators through written exam. A score of 16 points or more represented passing while 15
points or less failed. Each section had to meet very specific exam selection criteria and involved a certain time limit. Examiners
remained anonymous to prevent bias against candidates.
I paid the fee to take the WREB but could not find qualified patients to come in over the Memorial Day holiday.
Then the break came—a residence hall graduate student agreed to sit for the board, as did my sister. My perio patient
came from an old roofing job buddy. I hired an assistant and practiced the gold and alloy techniques on models for five
months. Professors gave critical feedback. Timetables laying out targets to stay on time got planned out. I attended review
sessions. In short, I extensively prepared.
The big exam came. Nerves fluttered and beads of sweat formed, but overall, I felt good about the exam. I only
expected to lose three points for running late on one portion of the exam. The rest of the points awaited judgment.
I failed.
What happens next remains difficult to explain. I entered a dark place in my mind. Part of me died. The obsession
to become a dentist left me. My competitive ambitions abandoned me. I experienced a dull shock, which transformed
into emotional exhaustion. Deep depression voided all interest in daily activity; however, I never considered suicide.
This became my first experience of being trapped by my own commitments. In order to become the dentist who
could pay off school loans, I had to take another board. I did not want to take another board. What went wrong? What
more preparation was possible? I previously allowed myself to believe that I could walk away from anything, even failure, if
I truly gave it my best shot. For in giving my best shot, there was nothing more I could do. Yet, now that I had done my
best, I could not realistically walk away. My 15 points earned of 24 did not equal the required 16. The letter reported
that, in addition to being late on one section, the candidate lost three points on the denture written exam and three points on
the root canal procedure.
This awful news reached me in Connecticut, 3000 miles away. My income could not afford to pay for another
exam. I am still bitter about these times and angry with God for not revealing what purpose these events served.
Rather than remain in Connecticut, I elected to ask my father for an emergency loan and to retake the exam in
Oregon four months later. A friend gave me the name of his old dental assistant. My sister once again served as my patient,
as did my old friend. Dental school friends were helpful—one let me stay with her during board week for free, another
loaned me a car. A community of family and friends delivered love and support in my hour of need.
I passed.
To this day, I do not know why I did not pass on my first attempt, as expected, or why my second try was successful.
Whatever the reason, Oregon licensed a new dentist in December of 1994. But this new dentist needed to find some selfconfidence!
I never, ever want to go through the “mind game” of taking a licensing board again.
 

DDS2BE

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Very interesting post, to the OP.

Can anyone share what when through your mind after passing the licensing exam?