Thursday, July 30, 2015

aisle or window?

In a few hours, I'll be well on my way to Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. Botswana is right above South Africa (yes it'll be winter) and the sand is red there (says the Internet). I am excited to smell the air and taste the foods, two senses that can't be delighted via online photos. And you know the excitement is real when my emoji game goes a little overboard.

Over the years, I've gone from preferring window to aisle. It might be my friend Kathryn whose deep fear of deep vein thrombosis inspired my own... but I get so angsty on airplanes, especially when flying alone. I need to get up and walk around.

The bright-line rule in packing for this trip: Don't bring anything I'd be devastated about losing. Leave anything I could buy in Botswana. 

I went into dental school today to run some errands and ran into Dave! Who told me that his beau asked him this: "why are you so cranky all the time?" We laughed and agreed that every person dating a dental student might wonder that.

I am SO EXCITED to see dentistry in Botswana (there's currently no dental schools in Botswana), dental health of the people there, and fun dental culture bits (like in Korea how every toothpaste has bamboo salt). My flight itinerary is a little insane... so I won't be in Botswana until Sunday afternoon (gulp). Until then, beautiful peoples, please have a great week of orientation/ back-to-school/ rotations/ work/ camp etc.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Studying for the NBDE Part 2

NBDE Part 2. It's a two-day exam with a total of 500 questions in 10.5 hours. Now that clinic is over, my main focus is studying for & passing the boards. Some of my classmates took the exam in our final weeks of clinic, but I gave myself the weekend to study after clinic ended. My exam will be Tuesday and Wednesday, then I'm flying out on Friday (yay!). 

I like to pack my bag for the entire day and hop from place to place with study breaks in between (CVS run, grabbing iced coffee etc). Thankfully Penn has beautiful study spaces (that are open in the summer!) with huge tables, not to mention that our dental school is technically open 24/7. On Saturday, I packed a little too much and quickly learned my lesson. The subtle hills of West Philadelphia are mountains when you're carrying fifteen pounds of books-laptop-notes...

My care package arrived just in time to brighten up my studying! Chocolate from Mark (note written in his characteristic stick-pile handwriting) and this one mechanical pencil from dad... The lead comes out when you shake it! We're easily amused.

Studying for boards has been a wonderful process of polishing up what I already know. For example, dental materials becomes much more interesting after you've used them! Now I know the reasons for using certain cements for specific restorations. My weaknesses are very clear on practice tests: pharmacology and oral pathology. More practice tests & First Aid for this last final stretch.

If you're studying for your boards- Part 1, Part 2, or USMLE steps- best of luck! I was told that the hardest thing about my last year of dental school will be juggling the many projects, coming in sequence month after month: Boards. Residency app's. Mock mannequin, then real mannequin exam. (All the while traveling for interviews), Screening for NERB then actual NERB, MATCH DAY, CCE's, points and requirements for graduation. Then hey, May has arrived.

One day at a time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

exciting & eventful end to summer session

I woke up yesterday with a big smile. Last day of summer session, last day before I go on vacation. All day long, I kept announcing to everyone (as if they did not know already!!!) "today's the last day!" And later, recalling this week's events to Bri: "I can't believe I made it!"...

Dental school couldn't let me go without one last ba-bam. I had my first pulp exposure. This is the event every dental student fears: chasing the decay until the pulp is exposed. It's the Pandora's box that opens up to fun possibilities like root canal therapy, crown lengthening, extraction... But no demon jumped out at me- in fact, we had no bleeding.

I also got a concussion contusion and had to have Lan chaperone me to Student Health clinic. Not my first time crying in clinic... Sometimes all I can is laugh at the ridiculous things that happen to me.

Third is that my crowns did not fit. This is the first time that something from the dental lab didn't fit in the patient's mouth. We decided to send it back to the lab to be re-made. This is also where I recognize what I don't know: my faculty took one look and said, "we're sending it back." Recognizing when things can be fixed chairside versus re-made in the lab, that comes from experience.

Funny tidbit: when I went to the clinic to get my head checked out, the doctor asked me about POINTS. The dental students and their points-obsession, I had to laugh. I did not hit my points goal for the summer (no shirt for Yesle) but gosh I learned so much. I officially have nine months of school left (really eight, since we have winter break and things). I want to welcome criticism, keep a happy attitude, and become a creative problem solver.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Start on: residency applications

I've added a new tag to my labels: Residency applications! I'll be applying to GPR/AEGD programs for the 2016 cycle. I pride myself on having a good grip on this whole dental school application thing but this Sunday evening, I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed.

I finally decided over the last few weeks: I am going to do a residency program. And commit to it too! The indecision was tiring: I was so set on working straight out of dental school one moment, then nope, definitely doing a residency. Or not. Add to it the fact that I'm not a U.S. citizen, and everything gets a bit more complicated... But this is it. I'm going to do a general practice residency.

Gretchen Rubin has the best stage presence. 

Clarity. Recognizing I want a stress-free externship month. So I'm asking myself to work extra hard this month of July to wrap up residency applications and ace my boards-NBDE-part-II (what a mouthful). Here I'm going to pretend Gretchen Rubin and I are best friends and that she reminded me about the Strategy of Clarity over lunch.

The whole point of working hard is to have fun, right? After all, all we have are relationships. This weekend I got to meet a newborn baby full of hair (most darling eyes), watch Inside Out with the boyfriend (survived without caffeine for the 10PM show!), and laugh over pizza with new/old friends. Being able to work hard in one moment so when I'm with loved ones, I'm able to fully embrace it (sans guilt and constant time-watching). Another moment of clarity.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Busy month ahead

Last month passed by with one post. Rather than feeling bad, I have accepted that writing will be slow during this part of my life. I've been tweeting a lot more instead! After all, this month I'm looking forward to wrapping up three things: summer session of clinic, NBDE boards II, and application (some). I'll be out of the country before this month is over.

In our group, we have a fun little tradition for the seniors. Those who hit 700 points by the summer party get a celebratory Group 58 T-shirt. Last week, my professor was joking that he didn't have to put in too many orders for the senior shirt this year (implying that not many people had hit 700 points...) The thing is, my group has been HUSTLING. Every time I go to grab a professor, I peek into the mouths my friends are working on- amazing work.

Group 58 at the 2014 holiday party

Having dentistry nightmares has become a regular thing. Last night, I dreamt that the composite balls were literally walking out of my preparation, defying all laws of gravity. Just the other day, my favorite hygienist walked over. "Do you remember last summer when you sat in that same chair? And had a real difficult time with your first cleaning?" I've forgotten chunks of last summer- perhaps deliberately. I remember feeling very nervous and trying very hard to hide that in front of my faculty and my patients. 

According to the Dalai Lama (who's visiting Philly this fall), since hardships are rare in most peoples' lives, these can be important opportunities to examine self, develop traits, and build karma. Then Taylor Swift says in an interview that her job is easy. As a happy and comfortable dental student, my struggles are not really real (board tests can be retaken, graduation happens- eventually) ... in this controlled context, I can still accept my challenges head-on and use these to grow. Now I wonder how many cavities the Dalai Lama and Taylor Swift have had.

This week I want to finish 40 pages of Mosby's, finalize my residency list, and finish my denture consults. I'm also giving myself a pat on the back for writing this! Off I go to plan out my Monday.