Sunday, December 30, 2012

What we’re learning in dental school

What are you learning in dental school?
What kind of classes are you taking?
How is dental school different from med school?

During the holidays I was answering a lot of questions about what we learn in dental school from friends and family. Why anatomy? Why basic sciences?

Here’s the official information about Penn’s curriculum from the dental school website.

D1 & D2
- Didactic learning with classroom lectures
- Basic sciences including Histology, Embryology, Anatomy, Cadaver Anatomy, Microbiology &etc.
- Some clinic learning including Health Promotions (learning how to interact with patients and learning about different oral hygiene products), DAU (assisting upper classmen), and Radiology rotations
- Dental simulations- virtual reality lab (I wrote about this earlier & at ASDA’s blog about getting to actually drill a tooth in my first month at Penn)

keepcalmHow to survive in dental school: Korean Student Dental Association shirts
(I did the Gangnam Style flash mob early fall.)

D3 & D4 (mostly treating patients in clinic)
- Completing our rotation through the different specialties
- Treating patients
- D4’s also do a 6-week Externship at Penn’s partner institutions all over the world (including Seoul National University- six weeks in Korea would be my dream come true.)

Penn also has Selectives which are different classes you can choose from. I think it’s great for tailoring the dental school’s curriculum to fit your interests- I took Cosmetic Dentistry this fall which reminded me to think about the duality of aesthetics and functionality in dentistry.

Most of our lectures this D1 year are on basic sciences. We are learning the concepts behind our procedures & how the body works so we can restore its normal function. The professors work hard to bring dental relevance into our topics giving old classes I’ve taken a new meaning. I can also read my own dental X-ray radiographs now… sort of.

2012-11-23 15.04.40

It’s a lot of information. I have never studied this hard in my life. But as our immunology professor Dr. K reminded us, “the point of this [complicated immune system] is not to show up on dental exams but to protect dental students and others from getting sick.” It’s what makes us grow and run and do the every day things we love.

Think of these not as another packet we have to memorize, but as life’s secrets we’re getting to see. It’s not particularly easy when you’re still up studying at 3AM… but I’m trying to keep that fascination alive.

What’s your favorite class in dental school?
What’s the most difficult class you’ve taken?
(Anatomy has been crazy but I remember organic chemistry 2 in undergraduate crushed my soul.)


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