Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: the year of dental school survival

Alex and I were chatting with Lo when I expressed my doubt about the new school year. PATHOLOGY is starting! (I am going to always refer to this class in caps. This 8-credit-monster deserves it).

study huddy (640x478)

PATHOLOGY begins the very first day we get back. My insides feel fluttery as I think about it. But Lo reminded me this: I figured it out! I have a system that’s worked for three full semesters at Penn dental and it will continue to work for me as I tackle this monster of a class. Like in Pharmacology, I was in North Carolina the weekend before our exam and when I got back, I studied like never before in my life. This H is extra sweet because I know I worked my butt off for that grade.

19.5 years of school and I’m still scared as shucks for that first day of school.

But… as I flipped through 2013 calendar I remembered tons of bad days I didn’t think I’d survive through. I mark those blue days on the calendar with a sad face. Dropping an acrylic provisional in lab, the anticipated lunch meeting turning into a disappointment, failing pop quizzes, and feeling like my eyes were going to give out the terrible night before a practical exam. (Then texting that one person I promised I wouldn’t talk to until 2511…) Living through those days felt like I was crawling through a muddy pit. Time went by slowly and I couldn’t breathe.

Good luck finding this baby on this lab floor.floor splatter (478x640)

New year gives me a chance to evaluate the different parts of my life and give more value to ones that matter to me. Like my new year’s resolution, it continues being the same. Alex says we should incorporate it into our lifestyle: being bold.

Capogiro’s #1 gelatocapo gelato (640x480)

Like my dental school crush. It’s not so much a crush as an admiration for the way he sees the world. We unexpectedly had coffee together shortly after school ended and I just had so much fun. I am timid in admitting how excited I am to maybe-possibly hang out. Now I want to delete this because I am going to publish this on the internet… but I’m not. I’m still going to keep it here.

On some level I still listen to that gremlin saying: “you are not worthy until….” But in the new year, I want to act despite those thoughts and feelings. I’ll continue to dig deep, while being forgiving of my imperfect self (this year I found an angel savior in Brene Brown). I’m simply doing the best I can at the moment. I’m running the mile I’m in.

- Yesle

Thursday, December 26, 2013

merry christmas & happy holidays

I don’t know how to tilt this! And I just found out you can’t upload gif files on Twitter. But it’s beautiful at night and it’s lovely Christmastime: Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House lights on.

RMH_Philly13 (2)

I just got Twitter and I’m trying to figure out how it works and what to DO on Twitter. I like following Philadelphia local businesses and knowing what’s going on real time. But other than that, I am still learning just what Twitter is useful for.

From my trip in NYC with Yulia:rainnyc (478x640)

Broadway at night.broadwatnight (640x478)

Took Yulia to try Korean food.
Verdict: she loved it and it made me so happy.kdin (640x514)

Plus some secret fun adventures running around the city! It was just what I needed to celebrate the end of another great dental school semester.

Tonight Alex arrives in Philly! I am thinking about taking her to see the dental school and our clinics and laboratories. Or not.

- Yesle

How do you use Twitter? Any fun/useful Twitters I should follow?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

my experience at Penn dental school as a patient.

You know I’m a student at Penn dental. I am also a patient here at two of their learning clinics. I have a student dentist at University of Pennsylvania who is a fourth year dental student. I also have my orthodontic resident who is also a student-in-training. While chatting with classmates who go to private practice for their dental needs, I thought about my experience as a patient at Penn dental school.

first snow[4]

All in all, I’ve had a great experience. And here’s why:

- Let’s learn together. Because students recently learned these procedures and are perfecting them, they still have that excitement coming from new knowledge. I remember when I did not know anything about caries and my student dentist decided not to treat some early caries. I did not understand why. She explained to me how some caries are reversible if you catch them early enough. Ohhhh.

- A second opinion. Every student works closely with assigned faculty for each case. This means your treatment is thoroughly evaluated and considered by not one, but two trained professionals. If you have an assistant (like us first and second-year dental students), three sets of eyes will be looking over you and taking care of you. Plus, my dentist needs to do well because she needed to show good work to graduate!

- Honesty and integrity. If you are not a dentist, you don’t know if what your dentist is saying (or charging you for payment) is true and honest. Here at Penn dental, no problems there. The school is not here to make money. We are so thankful for each and every patient who comes through the doors to give us a learning opportunity. Not only does Penn do a good job estimating fees and treatment schedules, you will know that you are not being scammed on by your dentist. This, to me, is the biggest advantage.

The negatives, because they do exist:

- Time-consuming. School policy has us taking full mouth X-ray radiographs and complete medical history for every patient. Also at the initial visit, each patient has his impression taken for stone models and complete periodontal charting done. Moving forward with the treatments, because student needs approval from the faculty to check at every integral step, treatments do take longer than at private practices.

- Rotating door of dentists. This is also my personal problem. Dental school is four years so your student dentist will (eventually) receive her diploma and graduate! This means even if you absolutely LOVE your dentist, she will be gone after two years in clinic (I don’t know what I am going to do next year without my M!). Seniors will transfer patients to capable underclassmen, of course. But if you had a special bond with your dentist, you might shed a tear.

You can call Penn dental at 215-898-8965 to make an appointment OR contact your student dentist directly if you already have someone specific in mind. I’ve actually talked to a few non-dental friends about becoming my patients. One flat-out said, “are you any good?” You know, I talk about difficulties and messes in lab here on my blog, but I know I’ll be great come June. I’ll do the very best work I can and seek out help if I don’t think I can.

- Yesle

Friday, December 20, 2013

joyful. 3/8 a dentist!!!

This semester of dental school just wrapped up! It was a long semester and I poured my heart out into everything I did this year. I worked hard in dental school but I also made room in my life to live out other values of my life and be perfectly fine doing that (aka not guilty).

I feel joy. I feel relief and I feel proud of myself.


I usually approach joy with caution but today I am unabashedly, just whole-heartedly happy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

love song for no one


Dare I say it? One more week.

My friends (who are done with med school exams and big end of the year reports etc) are cheering me on, but right now the motivation comes from within. It’s like running in a race. You push yourself because you see the end: you would sprint even if there were no spectator along the side of the last mile.

Here’s an observation I’ve had about myself this year. It’s rough doing it alone.

A Love Letter For You mural project by Steve Powers
all over West Philadelphia! Picture

I don’t mean it in the sense that you feel there’s a big problem that needs to be solved in the future (aka get married and have kids). But even for that moment alone, when you are going through everything, it is nice (it must be nice) to have someone sharing that experience.

I always said I’d rather have a successful career than a successful marriage. I envied women who were hanging out with the big boys at board meetings and wearing pant suits while sipping coffee at 6AM, not those with lovely kids and adoring husbands. Now I don’t think I know.

It’s funny. I see my dental school friends who are married (or in serious relationships) and it’s amazing to see how much support they receive from home. This kind of love does not depend on their having a stellar GPA or awesome molar preparations. It’s truly unconditional. Last week my dental school classmate threw an early Christmas showing of Love Actually. There were like three couples there who are so wonderful (and so different!) in their own unique way. Just seeing them made my heart melt.

And yet I am not actively looking to find someone. I somehow think it’ll just happen naturally, despite the fact that I spend 57 hours a week at dental school. Like last night, someone I have a mad crush on asked me what I was doing tonight. I said, “STUDYING, duh.”

What do I want? What do I need?

- Yesle

Saturday, December 14, 2013

baby it’s cold outside

We got our first snow in Philadelphia last weekend. It started snowing while I was in our basement lab working on teeth things. I saw the snow start to pile up out the window and by the time I left, we had this Winter Wonderland.


So gorgeous! I love my duck boots because I can deliberately stomp on every snow pile I see.

first snowIn front of Penn School of Dental Medicine entrance

Philadelphia is so efficient when it comes to cleaning up the roads and sidewalks! In Houston when I was an undergraduate, entire city shut down when we got a tiny bit of unexpected snow.

birdmanSnowman (or snow-bird?) on my walk home

The beautiful scenery outside makes last week of dental school much more bearable. It’s snowing outside as I type this. Perfect day for sipping on latte’s and reading- I mean, studying antibiotics and antivirals.

- Yesle

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NYC on a last-minute getaway

After a pretty rough week (and lots of self-doubt and frustration), I decided to go to NYC on a last-minute getaway. I needed a break from dental school and from Philadelphia. I had a crazy dental school exam schedule coming up but once the idea popped into my head, I was just so ridiculously happy.

New York is so gorgeous during Christmastime! It’s also very crowded with everyone else who believes the same. Yulia and I caught up over lunch, ran around town for cupcakes, and went to see best Christmas tree in the world: one at Rockefeller Center.

I wanted to watch Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark before it closes upcoming January. We caught the matinee show. I loved the rock-and-roll feel of the songs by Bono and The Edge. U2 fans will appreciate some cameo appearances of their songs. ;) The set design is incredible with buildings rotating upside-down and 2.5-dimensional cartoon backgrounds.


We were so close to the stage! If you want to splurge for a musical, this is the one. Spider-Man will be flying right over your head.


It got dark pretty fast so we got to see the beautiful (blinding) NYC lights in Times Square, plus the lit-up Christmas lights and decorations.


Then, home-bound.

I want to live in NYC once in my lifetime. There are two dental schools in the city! (I love how you can say “the city” and everyone knows exactly which one.)

- Yesle

Sunday, December 8, 2013

so you had a bad day

Early this week was one disaster after the other. On Sunday, I went in early morning to practice for our upcoming practical which was this Wednesday.

First, I started preparing the wrong tooth.


Then I did a completely different procedure from the one we were being tested on: an omnivac shell provisional on the tooth instead of a block carve provisional.

In my frustrated state, the entire procedure took longer than usual. I thought I was supposed to get better? I could not get the margins smooth and continuous with the prepared tooth surface for the life of me. And so on. By then I had been in lab for eight hours and my eyes were burning from the acrylic monomer fumes.

Sometimes you need to call it a day. And Sunday was most definitely one of those days.

So I did. I came home. At this point I was freaking out that I would not learn this procedure in time for our timed practical on Wednesday. I couldn’t even organize my room because I was so jumpy. I got myself into bed for a nap although I had a ton of things to do… and this nap turned out to be so much better than slaving away for hours in lab.

And Wednesday’s practical exam? I think it could have gone better. But this was an example where two values collided. I had to make a decision what was more important at the moment.


A few weeks ago my advisor asked me, “what does balanced life look like to you?” I believe a “balanced” life for me is not letting school define a good (or a bad) day. I’m trying to live my life that way. Better reset’s, better framing of these situations. It sometimes means letting go and “giving up”, if only for my sanity.

- Yesle

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thirteen months and now “finishing”

At my last visit, my orthodontist made this cast of my teeth to see the progress (especially my tricky little third molar in the back). Now we are officially in the “finishing” or “detailing” phase of my orthodontic treatment… only that this finishing will also take a while.


I was almost a Boards Lesion patient (meaning a student dentist would use my cavity to demonstrate her dentist skills for an exam). But since my braces are expected to stay on throughout May, she couldn’t use me as her dental patient.

This is so exciting to be officially moving onto a next phase. Plus, smaller tweaks mean less pain. I have decided I’m going on a sticky gooey diet when my braces come off. It’s kind of a reverse detox.


How did you celebrate your getting braces off?
Or how do you plan on celebrating? (It’s a nice daydream!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

perks of having dentist friends

I woke up with a sore spot on my gums this weekend and tried to diagnose it based on the limited pathology knowledge I have…which is very limited. Thrush? But I’m not a baby nor do I wear dentures.

2013-11-30 14.18.22

I promptly recruited my upperclassmen friends to diagnose the spot for me. Final diagnosis TBD but this… made me so happy. Having dental school friends = so many questions that can be answered. That and I can’t wait to look at everyone’s teeth when I go home this summer. Family members, get ready. #futuredentist.

PFM crown prep makes me laugh

This cannot be real. I finished preparation on #21, a mandibular molar and had to laugh. This is not a tooth! It’s a little nub sitting in the mouth. The occlusal table (view from the top) is a little circle.


The things I find funny… (only in dental school)