Three things I wish I paid more attention to in dental school
And just like that, you’ve graduated. With a degree, dental license and a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration number in hand (and an empty wallet), you’re off to practice dentistry in the real world. From time to time, you may find yourself reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” of what dental school used to be like. While I won’t go as far to say that I “miss” dental school, there are certain aspects that I do wish I paid more attention to. Here are my top three:
- Materials and supplies
Supplies are simply not something you worry about in school. It’s a seemingly magical, endless supply of whatever your heart may desire. But all of a sudden, each bur, each tube of heavy body, and each endo file has an expensive price tag. You’re now working with a budget because your equipment is in need of repair, team payday is right around the corner, your patient just no-showed you, and you’re staring at an empty chair. On the flip side, you can now try whatever your heart might desire and you’ll soon come to find what works best in your hands. You’ll just have to pay for it too.
- Clinical notes
Oh, axiUm. What a love and hate relationship we shared. Maybe love is too strong of a word. “Tolerable.” What I did appreciate about dental school was that my work and notes were done under the safety net of another’s license. Starting from day one in practice, it’s all on you. While there are templates built into dental software, it will be up to you to modify those to your comfort level. What information will you include? Will your notes be as in-depth as they were in school? Should they be? The decision will be yours so be prepared to document and protect the license that you have worked so hard to earn.
This is incredibly difficult to achieve in dental school and it completely depends on your clinical set-up. First things first, it’s not about improving your “speed” but your “efficiency.” Working with a great dental assistant will almost cut your time in half. You won’t be doing the dental school-juggling act balancing a handpiece, mirror, saliva ejector, suction and whatever else you need. As soon as you begin to feel more comfortable with procedures (experience breeds confidence), work with intention. On your paper tray, go ahead and write down the time you seat your patient, the time you’re done with the pre-op check, and when you’re done with the post-op check. Record as many times as you need. This is an exercise I do with my awesome assistant as we serve our patients. You can also work with a timer. Another useful exercise is to limit the number of times you use each bur. This focuses you to be more deliberate and complete with your routine.
Each day is a new adventure that I love as a new dentist. What do you wish you paid more attention to in dental school?
Dr. Daryn Lu is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a general dentist in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A 2015 graduate from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, Daryn’s passion for his profession shows through his extensive history within organized dentistry. From an eager predental member of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) to a passionate local, district, and national volunteer leader — the depth of his experiences has helped shape him as a dental professional and lifelong learner. In his spare time, Daryn is an avid traveler, self-proclaimed foodie, and social media junkie. He lives to travel, travels to eat and shares foodie pictures on your newsfeed.