Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three things I've learned from clinic

Do you remember how you felt at the beginning? When you just began piano lessons or learned a new sport, a new board game...  I'm now six months into my career. And as I continue on this journey of career-growing pains, I keep coming back to Amy Cuddy's "fake it 'til you become it" TED talk.

These three things I've learned, I keep reminding myself over and over again.


1. Let go of things you can't control. 
I call this my "Jesus take the wheel" mantra. A short excerpt of things I get frustrated about: lab turn-around time on an inlay, a patient's diagnosis of aggressive periodontitis, that root canals cost almost ten times as much as extractions. Even the fact that this patient has cavities! Today I almost shed tears telling a patient she has cavities on half of her teeth. Now I know I could never be an oncologist.

These are out of my hands. Only thing I'm doing is raising my blood pressure.

2. Have a sense of humor.
When things get ridiculous, all you can do is laugh. I shared my rotation with Jordan (whose Q+A I loved writing) and it was a continous laughing session. He cracked jokes with patients, gave them elbow fives (compliant with Penn's strict infection control guidelines...), and spoke in accents. Like my friend Maura says, "always gotta look like you're having fun!" 

saw this ridiculousness going home last night: look at the window!

3. Accept your suckiness.
As cynical as this sounds... it's true. Unless you are a certain Alex in our group, your best days are yet to come. (And it's probably true for him too) And it's not just hand skills, for me it is:

- being assertive and confident talking to patients
- being flexible (like when a resin becomes an amalgam I am in full panic mode- because I wasn't mentally prepared)
- accurately estimate my working time (don't let my appointments run over to 5:30PM)
- not taking the short cut (like finishing perio probings in a hurry)

I'm always counting my blessings: having such wonderful mentors, having amazing/helpful upperclassmen (I've grabbed them halfway in tears), being in the best group (self-reported) at Penn dental. I'm inspired every day and challenged every single moment.

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