Saturday, June 14, 2014

first day in clinic, real live patients

This week I learned how to swim in the ocean. I saw my first real patients. Guys, I’m a real (student) dentist!!!!

It was crazy, hectic, so perfect. It was the most exciting week of my life. HIPAA is for real, guys, so no details about my dental patients there. But we can talk about me.


The night before clinic, no, the entire weekend before clinic, I had a bottle of aspirin on my desk all week. These moments of confidence I wrote about came and went away in waves. If you were to ask me what I was nervous about, I would not have been able to tell you. Helen asks if there’s like a winner or a prize we’re all fighting for. Um… no.

So I couldn’t verbalize this pervasive sense of anxiety. That I was going to mess up? Then it was going to be embarrassing. I was going to be a disappointment to my colleagues, my patients, and my faculty… What? Slippery slope down to the dental school pothole right there.

First week happened and of course I messed up. I left equipment lying around and did not submit the right forms. I grabbed upperclassmen for help on filling out forms, getting patient signatures, and taking radiographs. (Thank you thank you thank you) I called my friends, sent long emails, and bombarded my big with questions.


And I am so proud of myself. I had been chatting with Dabel about my first day of clinic, about the need to pep talk myself. He remembered that when he played football, coaches "hyped us up so much, we felt like we could do anything." Like we could do anything.

I may not have started the week off feeling that way, but I feel pretty good. It’s not the belief that I’m going to rock everything because I know I am going to make more mistakes. But that sounds… okay. It’s my first week, my first month, first year in clinic. I just read about aiming for progress and not perfection. That’s what I need, just progress. Baby steps. Let’s take it easy and take it slow.

Do you remember your first day in clinic? Your first patient?
Do you have a clinic mantra?


  1. Congratulations for this week treating your first live patients Yesle! I remember my first patient and that day is an unforgettable one despite of the rush and nervousness. I still do have those from time to time specially when the time is short at the clinic. As time passes, however, those feelings will turn into excitement and a healthy self-challenge.

    1. Now it's been three weeks!!! I still get pretty nervous about some cases but it's not the losing-sleep-night-before kind of jitteriness. It's a steep learning curve I think.

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