Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dating In Dental School part 2. The action plan.

Yesle: I believe in living deliberately- and that applies to dating. You guys are swamped with the application part of dental schools, but take a fun break to think about other aspects of your new transition, including dating. From your emails I know you're curious about dating in dental school!

Some things you’ll only figure out with practice and time. Here’s more of Dave's advice to keep in mind on how you’ll date and how you’ll learn to love- others and yourself. If you missed Part 1 from Dave, go read it here- including his mission statement on dating (!!!). My comment on this whole love thing? Dave and I are both figuring it out... but it's a fun journey. Here's Dave (@camevad).


A)   Work them in: Dental student schedules are demanding. Don’t waste your time on boring dates or drunken hookups with your potential partner, unless that’s really all you want. Instead, try new coffeeshop and dinner adventures. Attempt a new hike. Take up a new hobby. I’m a huge fan of adventure dating. I’ve literally explored 75% of Philadelphia on dates alone – and if you’re lucky, they’ll pay ;) . And I’ve picked up a few new hobbies too. Make your time away from school valuable. If it has to involve school, have your partner start to meet your colleagues, volunteer with you, or attend a program or two held by your school. Work them into your dental school life.

B)  School + life: 70/30? 60/40? Make sure you keep some time for academia, volunteerism, and the other duties dental school entails. 60%? 70%? Only you can decide. I would say my life is 60/40 – 60% of my week is set aside to the gym in the morning, lectures, clinic, and labwork/extra courses. But I know when it’s time to leave school and hang out with friends or go on a date. That being said, don’t be that burnout who devotes 90% of your time to school and only 10% of your time to someone else – it just isn’t fair. Explain how busy dental school is to your partner beforehand, and hopefully they will be willing to tag along for some coffee shop or library study dates. Mix it up but set a fair expectation.

C)   Love yourself. This is important: self-care. Before anyone else can love you, you must love yourself- and act it out to make yourself feel loved. I know it’s hard in dental school, but try. Learn to cook, practice your hobbies, find a fitness routine, and treat yourself to some nice clothes and haircuts/spa days. You deserve it as a dental student and great human being, not just a potential date. Self-care took me great places: I found the right living situation, kept the right friends, and worked to upkeep the best physical appearance I can. From there I can only hope someone will love me the way I am.


I hope this helps. This is just one set of advice, and remember that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I know many dental school “class couples”, dental students making it work with other grad students, dental students dating undergrads, married dental students, et cetera. Anything is possible if you set a vision and try. Good luck out there. Cupid out.

Yesle: what do you think? If you're starting dental school with a partner, how have you made it work?
Also a disclaimer: the Gossip Girl obsession is solely mine, not Dave's...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dating In Dental School part 1. The groundwork.

Yesle: I can't tell you how many people asked about the dating part of my life. Do you have time to date? Do you consciously not date anyone in your program? I got Dave to write this comprehensive (systemic and practical) guide to love (or dating?) in dental school. Writing a mission statement for your romantic life? Owning up to your value? Genius. I’ve included a checklist at the end of each post for what you can do right now. 


It’s funny that Yesle asked me to write about this topic because it is something we discuss a lot when we hang out. I remember one time after volunteering, Yesle looked at me point blank and asked, “How do you do it?!” And by it she means date a lot. I’ve had many successes and failures, but at least I’ve tried. I’ve really put myself out there during dental school and now is my shot to impart some wisdom learned from these past three years. Here are some tips: 

A)    Know quickly what you do and don’t want: You’re a busy dental student, so it’s okay to be picky. Does your potential partner understand your busy schedule? Make sure they have similar volunteer, fitness, and career ambitions as you. Glean this early. If they aren’t going to fit into your busy grad school life, it’s okay to give them the boot. Personally, if anyone wants me to lower my academic standards or skip the gym, I’ll skip on them instead. 

B)   Set a vision: Be honest with yourself and what you want. Do you want someone who will move to residency with you? Vacation with you during breaks? Help take care of you while you’re busy? Completely back off during the week when you’re busy? A gym partner? Great sex? No sex at all? The checklist can go on and on. You are a busy dental student and it is okay to have a bigger list of dealbreakers. You have no time for someone lying, cheating, or misunderstanding your needs as a burnt out student. Your partner should energize you!

C)  Confidence/Personal Mission Statement: This suggestion is huge. And also cocky. But important! You need to love yourself before you can love someone else. Evaluate yourself and set your own mission statement for romance. Mine is as follows:
You are going to be an Ivy League doctor when you are done with your program. You are a military scholar with no debt. You are reasonably attractive, independently wealthy, and have a lot to offer to someone. You dedicate your time to the gym, your classmates, to volunteering in the community, and most importantly to the highest level of care for your patients. Love yourself and the right person will find you in life and appreciate all you do.
When you put it so boldly, you won’t want to take crap from anyone anymore. Value yourself fairly. If you’re a broken mess, say so. If you’re confident and ready to rock a new relationship, say that. Once you know who you are, you will be ready to know who you’re looking for. 

D)   Decide on a course of action: Are you going to hit the clubs, download dating apps, or have your friends set you up on blind dates? Simply put, you need see what could potentially work depending on your style. Another huge decision is deciding on whether to make a move on someone in your program or not. Remember, you must see them frequently in a professional setting. That being said, if there is mutual attraction, don’t write them off if you think it can work. The choice is yours alone. If you have a distance component, be clear with who visits who and when!

Yesle: So here's your homework. 

- Brainstorm what your ideal relationship looks like. Give me a list of 3-5.

- Write up a one-paragraph of your mission statement for your romantic life.

- Decide how you’ll look for dates. Make one specific plan for a specific night. Add it into your google calendar.

Finished your homework? You can read Part 2 here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Applying to the medically compromised clinic

Dr. Yesle Kim- Not quite yet. 

I feel inspired. I want to stay up all night to search the internet about a certain future glitter.

It’s been a while since I felt that. But I caught it last week. After checking out Einstein’s residency program, I began thinking about applying to Penn’s Medically Complex Clinic. Patients in this clinic require special attention such as needing lab updates every 3 months. Fourth years at Penn can apply to see patients one day a week in this MCC.


I want to do my general dentistry residency in a hospital. If anything, I want to confidently treat patients with complex medical histories. When I heard about this, I felt this was what I’d been looking for. When Dr. Newell tells us to have that “swagger”, I think this is what he means. Feeling unstoppable, like I can make things happen for me in my life. That faith.

I wrote my personal statement (part of the application) in a cozy coffee shop one afternoon. I was typing away all my emotions, hoping my pages would catch this excitement I was pouring out. The application process wraps up in a few weeks & I’ll find out by end of this month. So this is something I’m admitting on this blog before I know the outcome. A small fear is that I won’t get it, and now you guys will know about my failure. But maybe that could be a story in itself, an honest account of my dental school life. Story is to be continued. So keep me in your thoughts and wish me luck please!

When’s the last time you felt inspired and unstoppable? When work didn’t feel like work?

Monday, March 16, 2015

I suck at pottery

I feel bad for my family and friends because I’ve been a heap of whines and rants. My ROI on patient recruiting has been dismal. But last week, talking to M encouraged me to see it as a fun challenge. We brainstormed all the silly ways I could recruit patients in Philly and I felt much better after laughing so much.

At pottery class this weekend, I trimmed the bottom too close and my cup was turning into a cylinder. Seeing my mild panic my friend suggested I turn it into a plant pot- perfect! At the wheel, we are both humbled. We're both: “I don’t know what I’m making!” then out emerges a pot, or a bowl, or a mystery lump going back to clay mode.

My instructor uses a lot of dental instruments to carve pottery! Dental hygienist or ceramicist?

But I don’t feel so bad when I suck at pottery. So what if my instructor throws a beautiful convex bowl in two minutes? (I'm developing an eye for beautiful convex lines. That's what my friend and I coo all the time: "it's so beautifully convex!!!") My instructor's been at it since before 1989. I'm humbled and motivated when I see his gorgeous bowls.

I've come to ask myself this: how this is different from prepping a tooth for amalgam the first time? Or taking impressions on your first real person (with a gag reflex) ? Beginning is the hardest and if you can get over the embarrassment/frustration of repeated failures, you’ll only get better. That’s a big realization I had as the wheels were turning (ahem).

Sometimes I mix up pottery and dental school. 

Knowing what my weaknesses are also inspires me to own up to my strengths. I'm a good writer. Yes, I am a good painter. I have an eye for esthetics & am good with small animals. If I’m bad at some things, I get to be great at other things. And I’m not being modest about pottery- because have you seen my twitter?

Things I find difficult: talking to patients about no-show’s, asking friends and family to pass on my business cards, telling patients to pay for expensive treatments, and calling patients about insurance disputes. Things I am good at: encouraging patients to pick up flossing, explaining dental procedures in easy terms, integrating classroom knowledge into what I see in clinic. Another thing I suck at: making snowmen, walking on ice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

a day at einstein medical center

A friend from college is now a resident at Einstein Medical Center. It's funny because we're both obsessed with TEXAS but we admit Philly isn't too shabby. ;) I had a random Monday off- no rotations, no clinic duties. So I decided to visit her and check out their residency program.


It’s interesting, the residency dilemma. I am excited to go out there, start making money and start the rest of my life. On the other hand, I want to focus on the dentistry portion for a tiny bit longer before I bring in all other components. It’s just like making pottery. You want to get the basics right: centering the clay and making simple cylinders. Then bring in the frilly fancies: handles, trimming the bottom, patterns and vibrant glazes.

Look at this crazy organization with all the different syringes for root canals.

What was truly wonderful to me was the collaborative learning environment. Residents seeking others’ professional opinions, talking about papers they’d read, asking about specific cases they’d seen… It felt so very professional, but in a safe nurturing environment.

I also loved that different residents had gone through different dental schools, so they had different knowledge and opinions and things, including even things like fluoride or caries detection! Should you fill an incipient caries in a high-risk patient? What if he is undergoing an extensive surgery and will be unable to receive dental care for the next few years? Should you depend on tactile senses (aka the pokey-explorer) or check out new technologies that use fluorescence and lasers to detect caries?

I wasn’t even aware there were differing opinions out there, and that different dentists were taught different philosophies. So interesting.


I also picked up some practice management tips! Because it is a hospital setting, everything is quantified and tallied up. I saw wait time statistics, specific feedback from patients tacked on the bulletin boards, creative ways to solve interesting logistic problems.

Something else I realized is: I know so much. Penn has taught me well, and that made me so very happy.