Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On not matching into a residency

I am writing from a house-converted coffee shop in Dallas! This week's trip was supposed to be for celebration. Celebrating being done with boards and matching into the program of my dreams... Big cosmic joke HA HA. My licensing exam got delayed. I didn't match into a GPR. Odontoblast (our annual dental school formal) got cancelled.

I was a messy bundle of emotions Thursday (when our licensing exam got cancelled) to Monday (received email about not matching) onward. Playing my favorite song on repeat ("Every night you cry yourself to sleep thinking: "Why does this happen to me? Why does every moment have to be so hard?") Oh, dramatic mode was turned WAY up. Then...

How soon is too soon to be vulnerable to someone new? To be completely honest with others about how hurt/sad/upset you are? Do you admit you feel like a failure or deny it or open up to being comforted and reassured? Do I say "I am totally okay." Or "yeah, I do feel awful."

Because the universe knew exactly what I need. Even the licensing exam being cancelled was a blessing in disguise... I didn't open up the "we regret to tell you" email on exam day, two fillings and a quad to go.

Instead, Monday night I went out with good friends, ate good wings, and laughed a whole lot. I haven't finished responding to Facebook messages and emails from friends who showered me in an abundance of love. I thought I had a huge circus net twenty feet below me- turns out I was tethered in a harness right there mid-air. I only had to stumble a little to see that.

So everyone, although my plan isn't one I intended on- or one that I envisioned for myself, here we go. The thing that scares me the most-working and being a real grown up, starting this chapter, I am doing it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

one week to licensure.

I’m monitoring my blood pressure these days leading up to the exam because I’m starting to feel it (126/78 this afternoon). The knots in my stomach, waking up in the middle of the night feeling like I’ve forgotten something, the many dreams I can't remember. If only I can get to exam day and have that patient in the chair, I’ll be okay. It’s all the paper work and unseen variables leading up to the exam, including that huge snowstorm this weekend.


A bunch of to-do things with no sequence nor organization is my worst nightmare. When I finished reading our ADEX manual and made a sticky note of all the things I had to do, I had this monster on my hands��

Today has truly been a day of massive failures... I don't think the graveness of my situation has hit me yet. With LESS THAN A WEEK to go until boards, things are happening that shouldn't. But maybe I am too much an optimist to worry just yet... I have faith that somehow, someway, everything will turn out okay. And when that happens, I will have wasted my energy by worrying so much.

Namaste, everyone, namaste, and good night.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

so this licensing thing (and how I want to live)

This whole boards & licensure thing is enough to make anyone grind their teeth down to nubs.


In the final year of dental school, we have to perform a live exam completing:
-2 fillings (one anterior and one posterior)
-one quadrant of scaling and root planing
under a total of ten hours (7 for the first, 3 for the second) in one day.

The entire process spans on for weeks preceding. We search radiographs and screen patients for the perfect lesion, one that is big enough to require a filling but not too big. The right patient with a dependable medical history, no uncontrolled hypertension please. Someone who gets numb easily, will put up with the constant walking around to be checked by examiners, someone who can come during the day, be patient, etc etc. Repeat for each of the three parts.

So after spending weeks in this beautiful place- eating amazing seafood and watching the sun rise over the ocean- I came back a bit in panic mode: I have three weeks to find a patient! What if I don't find one? What if I forget some critical thing during the exam? What if my patient gets on the wrong bus? Should I have been recruiting long-distance? (I've heard of people recruiting successfully via dating apps...) What if I break my loupes the day before? (My loupes are going to be on high protection mode until exam day.) Knocking on wood as I type this.



And of course whenever I woke up at night due to my jet lag, I couldn't fall back asleep because of the crazy scenarios playing out in my head.

Here's what my friends and I keep repeating to each other (and this applies to EVERYTHING! which in our case has been: dealing with superiors, dating, roommate issues, gaining weight, family conflicts, bridesmaids problems....) how you do one thing is how you do everything. It's the general pattern that emerges.

Instead of freaking out about my future & how I blurted out that one silly thing, I step back and think: is this how I want to be living my life? Is this the person I want to be? Because years are long, but the days are short and everything's happening right now, nothing is practice.

My exam is on January 25th, which also happens to be my Match Day. I'm wearing this nervous smile �� as I write this but I know that when that date passes and everything turns out FINE, I'm going to say: "I wish I didn't worry so much", that serenity prayer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Developing our secret dentist language

Past few weeks in highlight reel:

December highlights
-denture parade! Dentures involve a lot of lab work and all those hours finally paid off in December. 
-getting pies and cookies from my patients
-visiting Korea and getting LASIK 
-first crossfit competition (as a spectator)


January highlights
-getting a pet fish
-having sleepless nights due to jet lag and boards nerves (I'll write more about this soon!)
-finally buying that Dagne Dover I had my eyes on

It's 2016 which is a very special year for me, as you all know. Yesle Kim, D'16! Did I ever think I was going to make it this far? That this year (which has February 29th, BTW) was every going to come? And yet. 

Last week, while having a conversation with my faculty, I smiled realizing how incredibly dental-specific our chat was. We were using a bunch of dental terminology and jargon. Here are some pictures to accompany our conversation:


And if you're a dental student or a dentist, you'll recognize what we're doing here. We're talking crown preparations and post/cores. It was such a moment of aha! about a concept that should have been obvious to me: when cutting a tooth, think about how much tooth structure remains. This is especially true for teeth that have been RCT'd, where access for endodontic therapy has compromised the remaining tooth structure. 

There’s two parts we learn in dentistry: deciding how to choose a treatment (brain) and delivering that treatment (hands). Sometimes I get so zoomed in on the latter that I forget to think critically about what I’m doing...

.... and all else fades away

And as incredible as speaking in our secret code is, I also think about how important explaining concepts to patients is. I examined my parents while home and they both have toothbrush abrasion lesions. It's a deadly combination of too-enthusiastic brushing and generalized recession. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Post orthodontics match day.

December. Here we are.

The beautiful Rittenhouse Square

I’ve been sick since Thanksgiving and slowly turning into a sloth. Last weekend I woke up at 2PM and took a nap three hours later. Then I was worried I'd be seriously sick for my interviews and worrying myself sick... it's a bad cycle.

December 3rd came and went! For those of you not around a dental student, it's the MATCH DAY for Orthodontic residencies. Having close future orthodontist friends, I spent weeks leading up to December 3rd talking about nothing but match day: what to do if don't match, how to rank the programs, should I have sent a thank you card sooner? In the end, happy news for many people.

Seeing my friends who matched for orthodontic residencies last week brought up a lot of feelings. I was happy for my friends first and foremost, but I felt a lot of other emotions as well. I felt nervous for my own match day (January 25th!) and envious of those who had landed yet another certain stepping stone. I was also amazed that these people knew precisely what they wanted and made it happen. I still feel very young at 26 and anytime someone my age shows immense self-knowledge or self-awareness, I'm in awe.

And the questions I have about my own future: where to work? (anyone hiring in May 2017?) Should I have applied to more residencies? Maybe I should have done my externship elsewhere...

Throw in this emotion soup mix, that Adele album, and that stubborn sickness and you got yourself a sniffly Yesle. Here's to dreaming the impossible and being grateful for what I have today.