It’s a marathon not a sprint

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Here we are- two quarters under our belts! Are we really starting the last quarter of our first year? Time most certainly does fly.

Unlike after fall quarter where we had nearly a month to recuperate before beginning again and the prospect of coming back to see everyone seemed exciting, Spring Break felt much too short. Although classes this quarter seem pretty familiar- Systems, Cariology, and Direct, oh my!- it has become more and more apparent that everything is in fact relative. Let me explain… A mere week and a half ago the thought of completing a Class One prep on Tooth #19 during our final practical seemed daunting, but after being introduced this week to the impossible Class Two preps I’d gladly do three Class One’s in a row. Oh wait, the majority of us do have to do that! 😉 However, it is somewhat of a relief to know that while drilling during our lab course does seem difficult at times, slowly but surely we are steadily improving.   With every week of new challenges, the work from previous weeks seems slightly less difficult.

Such is the case with our didactic courses as well. Although the pace and workload has steadily increased during dental school, we have all grown together as students and have learned to handle the challenges as they come. Long gone are the days where we were freaking out over quizzes, and instead we have become a group of friends that shares study materials, supplies, and advice before each exam and we get through it together.

So while it is bittersweet that the last tinges of dental school novelty have worn away, it is nice that they have been replaced with a comfortable pattern of studying and new things to be excited about like taking alginate impressions on one another, our first injections, and preparing to treat our very first patients this summer! We have learned that dental school is a marathon, not a sprint, and it feels good to have found our rhythm.

Balance

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Dental school has this strange way of making days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. Sitting in lecture halls for what seems like an eternity everyday then turning to your friend and asking what week we’re currently in is not as uncommon as you may think. I’ve realized how easy it is to get caught up in the minutia of didactic courses, project deadlines, remembering what drugs contraindicate what conditions to potentially save your future patient who may or may not have stage II hypertension.. (oops, there I go again) while still staying focused on the big picture of why we’re all here.

So how do we manage to get sleep, wander outside the halls of the dental school, and still pass all of our courses? BALANCE. It may have taken most of us the entirety of first quarter to realize, but being well balanced is not only going to help you excel in the classroom but also keep you motivated to keep moving forward.

Class gets out early on Tuesdays? Lets start an intramural soccer team! Sitting in lecture hall wondering why/how you are going to remember everything? Volunteer in the clinic and help a patient who walked in with pain, leave with a smile!

Keep that it mind and you might be able to pick 2 and a half of the options 🙂

We know the drill

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We survived and thrived in our first quarter of dental school! Now in the middle of our second quarter, we are practically halfway done with first year. The most exciting part of this quarter so far is that we started drilling!

Similar to many of you, many of us dental students enrolled in primarily didactic courses during undergrad. We took a few labs here and there, and maybe some of us even enrolled in arts or ceramics classes. What makes dental school unique from really any other graduate school is that, in addition to learning material in lectures, we also must hone our hand skills! Given that many of us are perfectionists but not yet skilled craftsmen, we were all very nervous when drilling didn’t come easy to us.

We already started working on our hand skills first quarter with waxing lab, but we had it easy; if we messed up while waxing a tooth, then we could easily manipulate the wax by removing excess or adding more. However, when it comes to drilling on an artificial tooth, there is no rewind button. Even if we take off too much of the tooth structure, we can’t add anything back to fix our mistakes! You would think that you can emulate a sample preparation, but sometimes your hands just don’t want to cooperate. Although there are ways to expand the tooth preparation, there may be no saving it and we may need to start over! It’s not the best feeling in the world to have your bench instructor tell you to start over because that means less time studying for classes. But as they say, (perfect) practice makes perfect!

Tons of Studying. Even More Tears.

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As the impending doom that is finals approaches, I’m faced with two options: buckle down and approach them head-on, or cry myself to sleep each night while binge watching Netflix. While the latter option is definitely the easier one, it’s also more embarrassing. Yes, we had finals as undergraduates, but somehow having seven classes (some of which have lab components) makes things just a little bit harder.

But being surrounded by 86 other students who are experiencing the same thing makes my first quarter that much more tolerable. Everyone here wants to do their best and being at a school with a pass/fail grading system means people aren’t fighting everyone else for their grades. Every week classmates are posting study guides and helpful videos for concepts no one understood from lecture. This collaborative environment not only makes studying easier, but it also pushes you to want to do better. And while weekly quizzes are a pain, I’m starting now to actually appreciate them, since they forced me to stay up-to-date with my classes.

Of course that doesn’t mean finals will be easy, but with only one more week filled with hard work, supportive classmates, and just a few pints of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream, I will be able to say I successfully completed my first quarter as a UCLA dental student.

We’re in this together

Welcome to UCLA ASDA’s Pre-Dental Outreach Blog!

This is the start of our Chapter’s new initiative to contribute monthly updates about the happenings in and around the UCLA School of Dentistry. We hope that our posts will stimulate your interest in oral health and/or give you insight into how things are at UCLA. My name is Victoria, and I am a first-year dental student (D1). As a Co-Coordinator of Internal Affairs for UCLA’s Pre-Dental Outreach Committee, I am thrilled to write our first ever blog post.

Our six weeks in dental school have been filled with growth, discovery, and learning. As October comes to a close, the D1 class has just completed their first set of midterm exams. Hurrah! In light of our recent milestone, I will use this post to write about why I love the Pass/No Pass/Honors (P/NP/H) grading system at UCLA.

The P/NP/H system is designed to reduce competition and increase collaboration, and I believe it has. Classmates openly share their study materials and study habits. I cannot tell you the number of guides, Quizlets, and other external links that have been posted in our class page — there are a lot! Classmates are also equally as open to sharing their study spaces. For instance, a handful of classmates recently took a liking to the graduate school gym as a study space. I decided to join them one day, and I have never looked back. The space is open, well-lit, and has deliciously cold water. What more could one ask for?

In a P/NP/H system, everyone strives to learn and to pass. There’s a shift focusing on individual success to focusing on communal success, and I couldn’t be happier.

Feel free to connect with the ASDA Chapter at the UCLA School of Dentistry through:

Facebook » UCLA ASDA Predental Outreach
Instagram » ucla_asda_predental
Snapchat » UCLA ASDA

Don’t hesitate to send us a message!