Practical Exam Anxiety

Discussion in 'Dental' started by Darya, May 31, 2008.

  1. Darya

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    Hey everyone,

    I get very anxious during pre-clinical practical exams; my heart rate goes up, my hands start shaking, I forget to breath .....

    any tips on how I could manage my anxiety? FGC preps and provisionals are what kill me the most :(
     
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  3. pmantz

    pmantz Member

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    Before D-school I was always really relaxed for practicals and exams(except orgo/biochem). Now it doesn't seem to matter what kind of exam I take I am always a nervous wreck. The only way I have figured to cut down on anxiety is:

    a. Practice at least once before the practical(I usually shoot for 2 times)
    b. Make sure to get plenty of rest the night before
    c. Limit caffiene intake ( only 1 cup of coffee in the morning)
    d. Have a light breakfast
    e. If you can skip the class before, this helps me to mentally prepare or get all my stuff ready

    I have not been able to eliminate all anxiety but its much better. I am always the first one done in my class with practicals. People think I am fast but I attribute it to the fact I am nervous and want to spend as little time as possible stressing over parameters.
     
  4. Darya

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    I do everything you've mentioned, but as soon as the exam starts I feel nauseous. I'm starting to think that I might need anti-anxiety medication just for crown preps :laugh:
     
  5. aphistis

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    You're probably joking, but some folks are prescribed beta blockers PRN for performance anxiety scenarios like what you're describing. Ask your physician about the problem, and see if you can come up with a solution together.
     
  6. Sugarless

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    Darya,

    Remind and repeat yourself, " It is just small huddle I can jump over, and I will be better with patients later"
     
  7. rsweeney

    rsweeney Senior Member

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    I totally feel the OPs pain. I, several classmates, and the bathroom was a mess before practicals. Oh man--and the state boards--yeah, we won't go into that:cool:
     
  8. apple1012

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    if the exam is at 8am, i like to wake up early, maybe 530...eat breakfast then so im ready to drill by 6. then i do a little run through...it helps so much because i typically stop maybe 40 minutes before the practical begins so i can set up/replace teeth, and by the time the practical begins my hands feel warmed up
    hope this helps!
     
  9. Brownstain

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    I used to get pretty bad, finally subsided my second year when we had practicals about ever two weeks. I learned a little control and just got used to the "pressure cooker." I did consider prescription meds, but a combination of not personally approving of their use and worries of them negatively affecting my performance (was too affraid of being too laxed) kept me away.

    This is what worked for me, your school may not allow you to do all of these things

    1. What's the big rush? I started all my practicals late, up to 15 minutes late. As soon as the instructor said go the whole place ignited with high speeds and a no talking for 3 hours. Not the most chill of atmospheres. I sometimes didn't even fully set up intentionally so that I took 5 minutes to get my stuff together while all others blitzed away. Just take some time to get relaxed and out of the confusion fueled by your classmates.

    2. Block it out We could use headphones, but couldn't talk. If you can do this do yourself a favor and buy some nice noise cancellation headphones plug em into the Ipod, turn on a relaxing playlist. If you can't use headphones just stick in some earplugs, they are like $0.15 at Wal-Mart. With no talking all you could ever here were three things in the background; 1.Highspeeds 2. "YESSSSS" and 3. "F#$K!!!!!!!!!!!" Don't let that get to you. A couple practicals I just sat and listened to music for a song or two with my feet up on my lab bench for those first few minutes to relax as well. I know, I know, not all that professional, but it worked!

    3. Take an F'in break. At a good halfway point? Go out in the hall, get a drink, say hi to the people hanging out in the building, go for a walk outside,watch 3 minutes of Sportscenter on the TV. This really helped break it up, ESPECIALLY if you are in a jam. If you find yourself in a sudden panic remove yourself from the situation. Take a breather and come back and asses the situation with fresh eyes. This is where I used to go Ape S&$T. When I thought I made a mistake I instantly started shaking. I had a buddy who would just go intol panic attacks, this worked for him as well. Just leave and clear your head. The last thing you want to do is start fixing things while you are distraught.

    4. Don't pay attention to anyone else...EVER Comparing yourself by monitoring Sally Sue next to you who whips out perfect crown preps in 8 minutes is going to land you in nothing but a panic. Just focus on your work. Just because others have finished doesn't mean you need to hurry. Who cares if you miss out on lunch with your friends because you took an extra 20 minutes to tweak some things? Do YOUR thing

    5. Practice makes perfect Take the time, learn what you do right, what your common mistakes are. Have someone critique your work. But, don't over-practice. Make sure you know what you are doing and how to fix any problems and get some sleep. Staying up all night is only going to start the panic train. Do a good practice round and end on a good note,that way you have nothing to worry about leading up to the real deal.

    6. Know when to guit!!! One of our instructors always says "Better is the enemy of good enough." I can't think of anything better. If you know everything is fine, then check the hell out!!! Don't try to fix little things in attempt to go form a B+ to an A-. This is where I used to always get in trouble, trying to make things just a hair better. Know how to properly evaluate yourself. When you have everything good by all means don't make anything worse! I know it's hard, we are all perfectionists. Remember you can always take away ivorine, but you can't put it back.

    Ok, I guess I have 6 practical commandments. I think lover's should make up the 7th but I think you can figure out that one on your own. Godspeed and just relax.
     
  10. ldsmbhc

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    Use a 329 for the start of your preps and then move to a 330. If your hands are a mess, use a slow-speed for the whole thing. Also, know your dimensions, retention grooves, concavities and convexities before you start. It amazes me how many students go into a practical not fully understanding what they need to do but hope everything will turn out alright in the end. I don’t want that kind of dentist working on me.
     
  11. Gunner McGee

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    Why not just hatchet out the whole prep?
     
  12. aggie-master

    aggie-master Scrub

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    I haven't had practical anxiety issues yet, but I had horrible anxiety problems during gross anatomy tests.

    I finally had to get to the point where I showed up hungry and dehydrated because for whatever strange reason if I had anything in me I'd have to go to the restroom a million times and there were no bathroom breaks on the lab part of the gross exams.

    Like one of the posters above, I usually listen to music the whole time which relaxes me and I've taken a halfway point break a few times if I felt the need to.
     
  13. OceanDMD

    OceanDMD Rather be fishing

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    I hear a hatchet, curette, and a bone file can do a wonderful class II.
    no RPM = no anxiety.
     
  14. OceanDMD

    OceanDMD Rather be fishing

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    I dont think Id want a dentist prepping the entire tooth with a slow speed either. Isn't that like cheating?
     
  15. OffAngleHatchet

    OffAngleHatchet Likes off-angle hatchets

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    nah, just old school.
     
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  17. ldsmbhc

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    If that is what you need to do to become more confident and eventually move on to a high-speed than I think it is fine.
     
  18. OceanDMD

    OceanDMD Rather be fishing

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    Main Entry: 1prac·ti·cal
    Pronunciation: \ˈprak-ti-kəl\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin practicus, from Greek praktikos, from prassein to pass over, fare, do; akin to Greek peran to pass through — more at fare
    Date: 15th century
    1 a: of, relating to, or manifested in practice or action : not theoretical or ideal <a practical question> <for all practical purposes> b: being such in practice or effect : virtual <a practical failure>
    2: actively engaged in some course of action or occupation <a practical farmer>
    3: capable of being put to use or account : useful <he had a practical knowledge of French>
    4 a: disposed to action as opposed to speculation or abstraction b (1): qualified by practice or practical training <a good practical mechanic> (2): designed to supplement theoretical training by experience
    5: concerned with voluntary action and ethical decisions <practical reason>
    — prac·ti·cal·i·ty \&#716;prak-ti-&#712;ka-l&#601;-t&#275;\ noun
    — prac·ti·cal·ness \&#712;prak-ti-k&#601;l-n&#601;s\ noun

    By the time you are taking practicals, I would imagine there is enough practice time to be prepared to use a highspeed. I cant believe anyone would complete an entire prep with just a slowspeed regardless of how nervous you are. That has gouge written all over it. What are you going to do when you sit with your patient that first restorative appointment in clinic? If your nervous, I agree with the music thing, change your diet, no coffee, etc..etc..
    But taking shortcuts or performimg improper dentistry is not the answer. Build your confidence with repetition correctly, not BS.
     
  19. armorshell

    armorshell One Man Freak Show
    Physician Dentist Moderator Emeritus

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    They let people listen to music during practicals? Using a slow speed the whole time would be disasterous in my mind, many people who use primarily high speeds still go to time, I can't imagine trying to use a slow speed; not to mention your prep is going to look like a gravel road after a windstorm.

    The key to getting more comfortable during practicals is more practice. No one expects you to be cranking out perfect preps, that's the reason you're in dental school. I bet you were really nervous the first few times you drove a car on the highway as well, but now you don't even think about it, right?
     
  20. BuckeyMcGee

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    I agree, the only time you should use the slow speed is to touch up the prep, smooth out the walls, level a floor, touch up a box...stuff like that. Making a prep using a slow speed only would damage the pulp very fast and generate way too much heat, and take forever to finish. Once you get good, all you will need to use is your high speed, and you'll actually not want to even touch the slow speed. The key is control of the handpeice, your high speed doesn't have to be going fast as hell all the time, just lightly press with your foot. Practice will make you better, before the practical, do 10 preps, do 20, do 30 if you have to. Practicals suck but get used to a lot of them through your dental school career, and the boards. I find that when I'm fully prepared and psych myself up, I do better. Good luck, and with a little practice, you will find that they aren't so bad afterall.
     
  21. ldsmbhc

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    Thanks for your passionate definition. Sorry it was not clear but there was some sarcasm in the statement you dislike. Yes, the best thing to do is to practice but I was trying to illustrate the point that a slow speed is a lot more forgiving when you’re nervous and that it could help you to calm down and refocus. Do I think this is a long-term solution, heck no but it could help out in the beginning.
     
  22. pmantz

    pmantz Member

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    I don't even use a slow speed for pre-clinical work, and have had good results. If I want to touch up I just ease up on the reostat.
     
  23. aphistis

    Moderator Emeritus

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    I use a sharpened stick and a handbow, but that's just the VA for you.
     
  24. jmick101

    jmick101 Kung Fu DDS

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    Dang good post here. I heartily agree with the bulk of it, especially about taking a break. I would routinely go get a coke or something right in the middle of practicals just to relax and stuff.

    Practicals are great, especially the pressure and stress of it. I have a buddy who got in a rush and prepped the wrong tooth. When he told me about it he felt like a big dufus and rightly so. Thing is though I am pretty sure that he wont ever prep the wrong tooth. Last weekend some dude taking the WREBs straight up prepped a 28 DO when he should have prepped a 29 DO. Bet he wished he learned the "dont prep the wrong tooth lesson" earlier like my friend did.

    I am dead serious that it seems like I have failed operative practicals for just about every single criteria but never the same thing twice. Towards the end of pre clin operative, I felt good about where my skills need to be because I had made all the mistakes and corrected them. That is what practicals (and getting ready for them) do for you. They are great. Love them.
     

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