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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Am I a real person?

It’s the craziest thing. I think I’m becoming a real person. 

My friends and I refer to non-dental students (or really, working people with jobs and responsibilities) as “real people”. For example, here is how it might go in conversation: “My friend is buying a house with her fiancĂ© next year!” “That is so grown-up.” “Well, they’re real people.”


In conversation with a new friend this weekend, I realized me the third year dental student is a real person. My mom always says she grew up into a real person along with me. When she was pregnant, people told her that "a kid was having a kid"- my mom was 27. Having responsibilities that affect others = real, in my book. For instance, if I went to bed too late OR didn’t shower OR let a bad mood overwhelm me, other people would be profoundly affected by my work the next day.

I always looked to May 2016 is when real life will begin… but this sudden realization is both funny and profound to me. I think I'm a real grown up, and it happened without me even realizing it.

When do you feel "real", like your responsibilities and duties are tangibly affecting others?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

what would your perfect day look like?

In my last post, I told you that I became more sure about why I wanted to stay in dental school. Here's an imaginary exercise I did: I envisioned my most perfect day ever. And it still included dental school!!! It had me waking up early enough to go to the empty gym and enjoying a leisurely dinner with friends. But still, dental school in between.

I was reading Kate Mara's interview in this month's Women's Health and she says her perfect day would be working out, walking the dogs, etc, nothing extraordinary or fancy. I think with growing up comes owning up to what you like. I feel confident enough to say, "no thanks, I don't really enjoy those things and I am going to pass."

Case in point, I have been looking forward to this weekend's sleeping in, all week long. Literally daydreaming about it. I'm dreaming in details too: blocking the sunlight with my soft comforter, waking up to the-already-bright outside, no alarm clock, just melting into my thirty pillows, things like that... and a cute little kitten wouldn't hurt either. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Next up? Phase II.

Hello lovelies! Many things have happened since my last post, but the most exciting thing is... drumroll please... I've moved onto Phase II treatment for most of my patients! Dental treatments are usually divided up into two phases. The first, Phase I, is disease control, to take care of the ongoing active infection. Then Phase II is to build up the teeth to make them look perfect and dentoform-ish again (crowns, bridges, implants, dentures).

There are many things to learn, both in forms and procedures. I know the individual bits but not yet how to put everything together. How do I schedule for implants while I am completing root canals? When do I put on the temporary (and when will it get drilled off)? Can I put on one crown while waiting on the other? It's a huge masterpiece I'm weaving from different yarns and threads.

Speaking of which, the first year's are starting preclinic: GRD, lab, the dungeon, whatever you want to call it, I know they've got a lot of growing to do. I scared off a first year by telling her to add a waterproof mascara to her GRD-prep shopping list (sorry H!). But it's kind of true. Because some days you'll be so overcome with joy, gratitude, and excitement that your eyes will water and only the most stubborn waterproof mascara will keep you non-panda'd.

First years, get ready.

Here's confession time: I heard about someone taking time off from dental school and my first reaction was envy. And that caught me by surprise. Sure I can think of a thousand things I'd rather do but do I actually want to step away for a year?

I thought about this long and hard this past week. To be honest, I don't think I have the guts but the immediate jealousy I'd felt was alarming to me. During long walks my brows were furrowed and my face so very sober. I needed to come to a conclusion so I wasn't fuming with uncomfortable cognitive dissonance every 8AM walking into class. Here's my current thought: I would love to spend my time doing other things but I want my everyday's overarching theme to be dentistry. And since I've made an active decision to stay (rather than one to "not leave"), I feel more engaged in my every day clinic/class life.


A classmate posted this Play-doh trick for custom trays (via ASDA's Mouthing Off blog). It's genius. It makes lab time super fun when you smell that familiar fun-associated smell. It seems I'm making custom trays every week and this has majorly cut down on my prep time.

Another big news is that I am most definitely going to do a general practice residency. We began a new class called Practice Management and I learned that I know nothing. But that's a decision I'll slowly flesh out with future posts. Night everybody!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

relationships keep you safe.

Happy snow day! We at Penn dental got to enjoy all the perks of having a snow day without actual snow. I got to sweat it out in the morning and catch up on pop culture

This weekend we had our ASDA District 3 meeting at Temple Dental. Ricardo Fontoura, our District 3 Trustee, talked about the importance of relationships. And thinking about the tragedies and hardships I've seen in our dental community, I know what he said to be true: relationships keep you safe.

Whether it's a close friend checking in casually, a total stranger asking how you're doing, or a professor concerned about a sudden drop in an exam grade, these interactions kept me going. Even if you were numb about the frustration in your life, an outside person asking you to reflect on your wellness is a good (often much needed) pause.

I've talked about mental health before on this blog and it's a HUGE part of my life and everyday conversation. I'm lucky in that my friends and I talk about happiness, self-improvement, those feel-good-questions all the time. I now have better clarity on why first two years were so darn hard on me (I'd never felt so personally criticized) but I still have my moments. But I'll say this again: exposing that vulnerable part of yourself is a strength, extending that invitation to let others in. 

If you haven't gotten your copy of ASDA's Mouth, check it out online. It's an entire issue dedicated to wellness. It's just wonderful. And I encourage you to talk about emotional wellness with your friends and classmates. You can even reach out to me via email and chat.

Here's something I saw at Temple: Meditation/Quiet Room. I love this idea! A safe place to go, collect your thoughts, and emerge a little lighter...



How do you keep your mental health in check? 
How would you rate your mental wellness this moment: 1-10?