Thursday, October 16, 2014

wanderlust externships

At Penn dental, fourth year dental students are required to go on 4-week externships at other hospitals. Many of them are domestic (Alaska? Brooklyn? North Carolina?) but some are international. We just had an info session about dental externships yesterday and I'm getting so excited about the possibitilies. Traveling! Learning! Airplanes and new cities!!!

Part of me wants to pick a hospital based on what I want to learn, areas of learning I want to supplement. By the time I leave, I'll be a fourth year counting down the months until graduation!!! So I need to learn to do X and Y and get ready for the real world... but another part of me wants to pick the most exotic, unexpected place and go on an adventure. 

The choices are both good and good. Maybe I just like playing with the possibilities and get to have two daydreams. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The final post from Dave: dental interviews

Okay ladies & gents, I have the very last post from Dave ready for you guys! I actually gave my first tour for the future Penn dentals last week & remembered how nervous/excited/unbelievable I felt. Best of luck to everyone going through the 2014-2015 AADSAS cycle right now.

Check out the entire Pre-dent advice series from Dave:
1. The basic application checklist 
2. DAT study material tips
3. DAT test day & interpreting your DAT score 
4. Applying through AADSAS  

  • Travel to the Interview: If you apply early in summer (June or July), you will have some time to prepare for interviews, which start in September and August for most schools. If you apply later (in the fall), dental schools may call and offer you an interview immediately. Here are some things to think about:
+Requesting time off: Interviews may not be on a weekend, so prepare to miss class/work
  • Money: Interviews are not paid trips for dental school, so prepare to pay for road trips and/or flights, hotels, and related expenses. Try to schedule interviews in the same city close together. Find friends, alumni, or family to stay with. Try to plan some fun and sightseeing in your trips.
  • Clothing: Both women and men will need to purchase professional interview wares…usually a new suit or tailoring will be part of your investment. Avoid funeral black! You will also be adding a briefcase, attaché, or matching bag to the outfit. If it will be cold, you will be adding a coat. Get a suit holder or travel bag for the transport. Have a belt to match your shoes. If you want to get creative, your shirt/tie will be the place – but not too crazy, as most dental schools are conservative environments.
  • Behavior: These may be funny examples, but learn how to give a proper handshake, unbutton a suit before sitting down, and (for the ladies) how to discreetly change into flats. There are many more behaviors you will need for the professional setting, which you should start researching in advance!
  • Interviewing skills: Using the school’s website, student doctor network, and advice from friends who have attended the interview day, you will have to research and prepare for each school’s interview. Some schools have high stress interviews, others low stress. Some interviews are in a small group format. Some interviews have dexterity tests. Prepare for this beforehand! I suggest having a thorough knowledge of each school, current events in dentistry in general, and questions ready to ask your interviewer. Practice with a friend and prepare some answers to common questions without being scripted. Preparation is key!

Whew! You have made it this far! Best of luck interviewing, waiting, and choosing a school. The process may seem expensive and stressful now, but remember that dentistry is an extremely rewarding career. There will be many more milestones to celebrate – Yesle’s blog does a good job covering them. Congrats on applying and welcome to the profession.

I wish all pre-dents out there the best of luck! Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

evening clinics

Quick post update before going to be tonight, this will be super short so I can sleep soon! I've gotten into this awful habit of sleeping late, waking up late. Sometimes days feel too long when I have both classes and patients, so I've been snoozing my way through the 8AM classes- oops!

I did my first evening clinic session last week! A patient wanted to finish their treatment for a special event coming up so I had them stay beyond our usual 5PM deadline. A friend brought me some cookies that afternoon so I took a mini break eating these amazing oatmeal toffee cookies... and after. Actually it was like my patient happened to be sandwiched between my two cookie-eating sessions.

Can you see the dark windows outside? It was past 7PM when I wrapped up and left. Evening sessions are optional for us third year dental students... but I kind of liked it! It's a lot more quiet & getting to work with different faculty can be interesting. Everyone is great at something and it's fun seeing different teaching styles and expert knowledge.

Of course I got home to this mess. I've been going through a MAJOR closet overhaul. Looking at this picture I'm realizing how much of my stuff is bright and patterned. I started listening to this great podcast called The Wardrobe Code. Nicole gives great advice such as: buy the best shoes you can afford and shop in your own closet by putting away some pieces regularly. Naturally I was inspired to edit my own wardrobe one impulsive evening. It's been frustrating at times but so eye-opening. Oh and can you spot something cute and furry in this picture?

The in-progress phase is the messiest. But I'm lucky that Penn has a mandatory scrubs policy because I don't think I wore anything other than scrubs + PJ's for a whole week. It was scrubs, pajamas, and repeat.

About evening clinic though- I keep thinking about how regular business hours don't work for most people. When I was working, I had to schedule my dentist appointments at 7AM. I could open a practice that's open 6AM-10AM & 6PM-10PM. That's a solid eight hours & I could be a free person during the day. Now if I can only stop yawning as soon as 9PM hits...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

dentists/dental students: clinic management help?

If I had been mildly panicking about my points dipping below average, I am now solidly below average. But that minor detail aside, I figured out why my clinic life feels so messy. It's the patient managing portion. The entire process isn't linear and it is different for each patient.

When a patient first checks in, we have a "data collection visit" where we gather up all the information about the patient: perio probings for gum health, existing radiographs, medical history, dental history, oral health hygiene, and so on. Depending on the patient's current dental state, we may need to do a prophylaxis cleaning... or an entire reconstruction including extraction and denture designing. So the process before starting any treatment ranges from a simple one hour visit to a drawn-out sequence of multiple visits (schedule weaved in between other patients who may also need extensive visits). 

Would you agree that recognizing the problem is the first step?

I am almost tempted to hire someone to be my clinic manager... applications accepted via email please. 


I know in real life ("in real life" is a phrase we use very often as students!) the clinic manager takes care of these details. But in dental school, students have to call the patients, figure out the schedules, and convince them to receive the treatment they need ($$$ and insurance is a whole another story). Those of you who are dental students and successful graduates, do you have tips on how to manage your patients? 

I use a Google Calendar and a paper agenda right now. I'm trying to schedule regular appointments (Tuesday 10AM's are for so-and-so) so we can establish a routine for both myself and the patient.

Monday, September 29, 2014

just like real life

This is my quick study break! We have a Pediatric Dentistry midterm tomorrow morning (8AM, bright and early of course) and I've been studying all evening. 

During our third year, we rotate through the different specialty clinics at Penn. It's a great way for us to gain insight into different specialties & to get to know the residents. As I'm slowly making up my mind to go into general practice, I'm paying more attention to those special cases... the ones you definitely want treated by a specialist.

One of the things we have to do is practice root canal therapy on extracted teeth. We schedule individual slots to go in and practice the entire procedure from start to finish. Couple of weeks ago, I went in for my session to practice on my extracted tooth. I had filed the canal, I had obturated (putting these rubber gutta percha cones inside), and I took the X-ray.

You want the entire canal radio opaque, which means the entire canal has been filled with CaOH and gutta percha. My radiograph showed my tooth had multiple voids. So... like a grudgey bear, I pulled out the entire thing and started over. Look- I even took a picture so I could send it to friends accompanied by a :-(

And then this past week, I was assisting an endo resident. The initial radiograph hinted at a tricky case. The roots were twisty dancing all over in that bone. Same thing- after a solid 30 minutes of filing, the resident filled the tooth with gutta percha + CaOH and took the radiograph... which showed a little tiny void.

He went back and pulled it out, got back to work. He simply said, "I'm not happy with this and I can do a better job." No whining, no pouty face. He just went back at it.

More so than anything, I want to learn the right attitude as a clinician. While in dental school, I get to learn on someone else's dime! Whatever I do has no financial impact on me, as long as I'm a student. The mindset I develop in dental school will follow me throughout my lifetime and I want to get started on the right foot. I know my hand skills will continue improving (and get faster please) but starting off with the right attitude, is so important. I don't want to get sloppy and lazy and greedy. I don't want to think my time is more valuable than my patient's.

Last week, I gave a tour to pre-dental students interviewing at Penn Dental. Someone asked me what my least favorite thing was, then of course what my favorite thing was. The latter question was easy: the people who make this school wonderful. I'm surrounded by wonderfully inspired people who want to do the right thing, who are in this for the right reasons. My colleagues are ambitious, driven, and kind. And seeing this resident simply go back to re-do this entire thing... I was able to reflect on my own hastiness the week before. 

And as a kind of a natural corollary, our group leader Dr. N said this last week: "don't surround yourself with ding-a-lings."