Dear D1s: Welcome to Dental School

Through: Savanah Craig

Welcome to Dental School! You have worked so hard for this moment and I want to be the first to welcome you into the most challenging four years of your life!

I know you think I’m just an exhausted upperclassman trying to discourage you. That may have been the case a few months ago, but today I enjoy practicing a profession that allows me to make a difference for my patients and have the work-life balance I’ve always dreamed of!

However, I do want to be honest with you about what you are about to experience so that you are ready for success!

Dental School vs Undergrad

Dental school is different from undergrad in many ways, let’s talk about a few.

Balancing crafts courses and didactic work

Balancing crafts courses with didactic courses can be challenging. Each of these responsibilities would be difficult on their own, and the combination can make it impossible.

Don’t be afraid to seek help! I promise you are not the only one feeling overwhelmed!

Upperclassmen are a great resource to use in determining how to successfully manage all of the dental school responsibilities.

Relationships with your professors

Depending on how big your undergraduate university was, you may not have had close relationships with your faculty members.

In dental school, the smaller classes can give you the opportunity to build close relationships and find mentors among your professors. Your professors are a great resource to expand your knowledge beyond the classroom.

Dentistry is more subjective than you can imagine, and it can be helpful to consult multiple faculty members and collect disagreements about treatment options. Use these resources to your advantage while you have them!

Relationships inside and outside dental school

The most important thing I can share with you is to focus on your relationships, inside and outside of dental education.

Dental school will take up a lot of your time, but it is really important to make your relationships a priority. Having people who can remind you that you are more than a dental student can help you stay healthy.

In addition, it is helpful to find your support system within the dental school. No one else will ever understand your dental student experience like people who have gone through it with you. It may take time, but finding your core group of friends can really enhance your dental school experience.

Feeling compassionate and bonding with your shared dental school experience is great, but it’s important to find time to talk about things other than school.

Dental school is challenging BUT rewarding

The next four years will be difficult, but there will also be many good moments to celebrate. Try to remember the good times, celebrate every small victory and find ways to make these years more than just school.

This is the foundation for your career and what kind of dentist you can become. Reach out to others for support and find out what makes you truly passionate about the career you’ve chosen.

Believe it or not, these 4 years go by very quickly and you don’t want to come out the other side wondering how you spent your time.

Next one: Professional identity formation

photo by Karolina Grabowskac

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