As I look back on my journey into dentistry, dental school itself was the launchpad.
As I sat down to write this post, I was surprised to find myself struggling
to write about hating dental school. I know I hated a lot
about it when I was there. When I wrote the 10 Reasons I Loved Dental School,
I found myself sifting through old photos and yearbooks, laughing, and
feeling warm fuzzies. It was easy to write about what I loved. So I
couldn’t wait to write about how much I hated it, thinking I would come
up with some really rich material. But when I sat down to write it, the
fire wasn’t there, and it was much harder than I thought.
Had the real
world of dentistry been that unkind to me that it made me forget about
the hardships of being a dental student?
Many of the stories that I
hated at the time made me laugh after being in practice. Trust me. I really hated
dental school and all the things listed below, but sometimes I think
our memory has a way of sugar-coating things. That’s probably a good
thing. It’s probably why women choose to get pregnant again, miserable
couples choose to get back together after a breakup, or on a whim we
decide to have a few too many gin cocktails… again. (Or tequila.) With
that in mind, I might need some help on this one. So please, add to
the list and see if you can improve it with a few of your own.
10 Reasons Dental School Sucked
Tests. We had at least 1 test everyday. We had so many tests, that
you couldn’t even study for a test a few days in advance. We were too
busy cramming for the test the next day to plan ahead. Half the stuff
we were learning had nothing to do with the practice of dentistry
anyway. It was just so we could pass the board exam and try to show the
world that our school was the best.
Requirements. Sometimes it would take me 3 hours to do 1 simple
filling. I didn’t have the luck that others had. I often felt slighted
because my patients’ fillings were always big and deep, and wrapped
around the entire tooth. My friends could get 3-4 fillings done in the
same 3 hours because the fillings that were presented to them were small
and shallow. As far as required credits went, all fillings were
created equal, regardless of difficulty.
Mean Teachers. We’ve all had our share of them. Mine was a certain
female teacher my freshman year. She deliberately would not come check
my work in lab and would check everyone around me first, leaving me
behind every time. The minute I started being a bitch right back to
her, she suddenly became nice. Eventually, she acted like my BFF. Not
sure what that’s all about. Maybe it was a sort of initiation to see if
I was tough enough. I did grow to like her though, despite her B.S.
More Nasty Teachers, or more specifically Oral Surgery Instructors.
These were some mean bastards. They acted superior, treated the
students with little respect, and always seemed very
sexist. One time I was punished by one of them for simply
misunderstanding his instructions to me. He tore me a new one and
treated me like shit the whole rest of the year while he rubbed elbows
with all of my male friends. And he was supposed to be one of the cool ones.
Pervy teachers. A few of my friends were put in some pretty
uncomfortable positions (figuratively– at least, as far as I know) on a
few occasions. There was more than 1 story of the married man with kids
commenting about my friend’s ass or a disguised grope or lingering
hug. It was enough to make us all cringe. My pervy experience
came from a teacher who I thought was a role model and a good friend,
but at least he waited until after graduation. Despite the fact that he
respected his boundaries while we were in school, it was still creepy and disappointing, shattering any respect I had for him.
Dental school wasn’t college. In college we spent about 3-4 hours a
day in class and the rest was free time. Dental school was an 8-hour
day, leaving just enough time for dinner, followed by an evening of
studying for several hours for the 1 or 2 tests scheduled the following
day. It really was all dentistry all of the time.
Practicing a new skill on another human being. I know there is no
other way to do this, but it was scary. Luckily, most of us were so
careful that we didn’t do any harm.
Boards Part 1. This standardized written exam after first year was
bogus. Being tested on relevant topics like Histology that we were sure
to use all throughout practice was a productive use of our time. I’m
glad we learned those things instead of something as useless as Practice
9) Boards Part 2. I can’t
even remember Part 2 because I think I was so terrified for the Clinical
Board Exam. Those were hellish. It was a subjective test that one
could fail if their patient didn’t even show up. We had to convince our
patients to dedicate their whole weekend to us, all for a free filling
or 2. As incentive, we were basically forced to pay our patients to
come and get free dental work. Some people had to bribe patients or
even drive for hours to pick them up in order to ensure that they
arrived. A classmate and I actually flew 2 patients from Dallas to
Denver and put them up in hotel rooms for the weekend. One guy spent a
bunch of (our) money on pay-per-view porn in his hotel room. Way to be
an ass and take advantage of a struggling student.
Lab work. After an 8-hour day of classes and clinic, and entire
evenings studying, we then had to do our own lab work. Whether it was
waxing crowns or building dentures, it was enough to drive this dental
Now it’s your turn. I know there is some good stuff out there, so please help!
What did you hate about dental school?