The late actor Gary Coleman once said, "I have lifestyle requirements. Photos, meetings, lunches, dinners, facial care, tooth care. It requires an exorbitant amount of money." For some 3rd and 4th year dental students, the only 'lifestyle requirement' they have is to graduate, to get out, and to move on.
It's easy to get burned out and mentally check out from the onslaught of tests and bureaucracy in many dental schools. However if you want to get the most out of dental school, you first have to learn to beat the system.
Finish your requirements ASAP
Every school has a system of requirements to complete before you graduate. Some schools have ‘competency exams,’ while others just require a minimum number of each procedure. Until you finish these procedures, you’re stuck in school.
Figure out exactly what your system is and print it out. Keep track of your progress and be aggressive in making sure you are ahead of schedule. Why would you want to cut it close with all the other stress associated with boards, licensing, and finding employment during your 4th year?
Even if you’re just starting your 3rd year, jump on any case that will help you meet these requirements. Luke Powell from Birmingham, Alabama shared, “Do the tough restorations, crowns, partials; whatever comes your way. Turn down nothing; if it is over your head, get a professor's help but get it done and get credit for it.”
Don’t be afraid to call patients, hand out business cards, and ask for referrals. Tim, a dentist on dentaltown.com shared that it’s all about “clinical quotas. Thats the name of the game. Get them done or the school will make your life miserable. During my senior year, I got sidetracked dating Pharmacy students. I also had a big fear of calling patients. In the end, I got to stay a couple more months. It was not fun.”
One fourth-year student from IU had his best clinical week by staying over fall break and picking up all the walk-in patients. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have fun and take breaks, but the sooner you’re done with your requirements, the sooner you’ll be able to truly relax and focus on learning the procedures you want to learn.
What has helped you finish your requirements early?