Monday, January 26, 2015

The occasional "one step forward, two steps back"

This quarter, we have this class called "Adolescence to Adulthood" which is basically a bi-weekly, hour-long therapy session. It's probably the only class that I'd ever want to pay attention to and sit through on a Friday afternoon, because it's led by one of the coolest professors ever. Every week, he talks to us about different stages of emotional growth, patient-dentist interaction, and other more human aspects of being a healthcare provider.

Here's an interesting slide from one of his lectures:

The thing about dental school is that if you do it the wrong way (and believe me, there are many ways to do it wrong) - your happiness fades very quickly. I know I'm not alone when I say that D2 really wears you down. When I went back home for break, my sister jokingly said to me "Rach, what's wrong? It kinda seems like you lost your sparkle" - and in that moment, I knew exactly what she meant. She was able to pinpoint my main struggle in dental school - the ability to maintain my happiness and sanity during a time when everything just felt too overwhelming. 

I'd gotten to a point where my entire life revolved around dentistry and every day was the same - breathe, sleep (very little) and live dentistry. Up until my sister pointed this out to me - I didn't realize that I'd become so serious. I didn't notice how it had become so difficult for me to laugh about anything - few things were ever funny enough to make me smile. I would respond to jokes a little too sensitively, and spend my hours brooding.  

So when Dr. Woods posted this definition of maturity, what I saw in myself was that for the first time in dental school, I had regressed on a human level. I lost my inner-child - the one that is okay with laughing at myself, making jokes, and simply being happy. My sister was right - I lost my sparkle. 
This definition of maturity is so wise because it shows us how there is a difference between what is child-like, and what is childish. To have child-like wonder, and child-like joy is a beautiful thing that one should never grow "out of". 

For those of you out there who are eager to start dental school - my intention in sharing these personal experiences is not to scare you, but to remind you that these could be the 4 most difficult years of your life. Be aware of yourself - and here's the upside - nothing is permanent. Once I realized how my perspective was slipping, I started doing everything I could to get it back.

Personally, this meant bringing it all back to God. Being a christian in dental school is tough - there are only a handful of us, and that dental school life is weary business. Another way was to immerse myself in better music. I go to the gym and to spin classes with my friends as alternative way to feel better about myself. I listen to podcasts on the morning walk from my apartment to class. I talk to my sister and my family more frequently and try to remind them how much I love them, and how much they mean to me.

Everyone faces these struggles and stresses differently. Maybe some of these methods can help you, maybe not. If you're struggling now, just remember there's always a way out. This is one of the best learning and growing experiences, and there is no achievement without trial. Good luck, and you're never alone! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

D2 Winter: Mid-Quarter Update

So when people told me that D2 winter quarter was going to be hellish, they absolutely were not joking.

Here's a look at our schedule for winter quarter:

So what that comes out to, is 8AM-5PM almost every day, except for Wednesdays and Thursdays if you decide not to schedule any patients. We have 4 lab classes - Direct Restoration, Indirect Restoration, Endodontics, and Dentures. Let me tell you, all this lab means that you are never really "done". There's always something else to do, and that's not even including all your studying for academic/didactic classes. 

I've been trying to document the things that I do, but it's been so difficult since D2 has been moving so incredibly fast. There is barely even a moment of breathing room. For the past couple weeks, we've all been studying for this oral pathology test which included a bunch of histology - where we learned the names (and had to be able to recall) like 100 different cysts/lesions/tumor/conditions and on top of that, be able to spell them correctly. So my brain has just been filled with "Papillary Cystadenoma Lymphomatosum" and "Encephalotrigeminal Angiomatosis" - and other things of that nature - and every time I'd go to a cafe to study, and there are these images of warty skin and gross tumors and things of that nature, I just felt really bad for everyone sitting near me. lol. 

But lets see.. What's happened so far.. 
So my friend and I are co-editors in chief of our school's newsletter and we released the fall issue of The Diastema! It took so much time and our staff worked really hard on it - but the final product is always worth it :) Here's the cover, and here's the link if you'd like to read the issue :)