Life of a Dental Student: Third Year

Campus

Tell us about your UCSF experience so far:

I didn’t know what to expect, because when I was choosing between my undergrad and UCSF, I knew if I went to my undergrad I’d be with all my friends and it’d be really familiar because I’d been there a lot, so UCSF was a totally new experience. So far, I’m definitely happy with my choice. I like that there are different health professional students and faculty you can interact with because at my undergrad’s dental school campus it’s just the dental school.

How did you decide to go to dental school?

I was originally between medicine and dentistry. I knew I wanted to be in a health profession because I wanted to interact with a lot of people and not be stuck behind a desk all day, staring at a computer. It’s clichéd to say you’re changing lives, but it’s true. Many patients just get a filling and go home, but there are those one or two that really make a good day or good week. I also like that dentistry is a new challenge every day. My dentist about to retire, and he says even now he has days where he has to try something totally new. I wanted a profession where I knew I wouldn’t get bored.

Is it different from what you originally expected?

Not necessarily. I knew it’d be hard and there would be a lot of late nights in Simulation Lab. The hardest part D1 year is juggling science classes and working on your hand skills—which is unique compared with other schools that are pretty much didactic. Even when you go to clinic in other schools, you don’t need the same intensive preparation and you just go straight to seeing patients. It’s especially hard when someone next to you finishes early and you’re still there late into the night.

What do you wish someone had told you?

D1 year, don’t be worried about how everyone else is doing—especially in Simulation Lab. It’s easy to get stressed-out when you see someone doing better than you, but you never know. When you get to clinic, they may not be as good at managing patients as someone else. In the end, you will all be able to get what you need from dental school. I think the pass/fail system helps get rid of some of the stress and allows students to focus on the learning rather than the grades.

What advice would you give to your underclassmen?

Don’t worry about what other people want to do in the future, like specializing or getting a job. You start to think, “Ooh, maybe I should do that,” but you really have to think about what you want to do and where you want to end up. There was a Ph.D. who had a ton of degrees and people kept saying, “You should go into private practice. You could make a lot of money and pay back your loans,” but she just kept telling them, no, because she wanted to work in a lab.

Have you ever had an, “oh, crap” kind of moment?

Oh, definitely. It usually happens when you plan to do something and for some reason the treatment plan completely changes. For example, once, I was going to do a build-up (if you don’t have enough tooth structure to place a crown) and a crown, but as I was doing it, we realized there was too much tooth-structure loss. Everything went wrong that day too—our laser wasn’t working, tooth cusps were missing—in the end, the patient didn’t want to extract the tooth, so we ended up filling it with composite and just seeing how long it lasts. Clinic constantly demands for you to do things you’ve never done before, so sometimes you just need the faculty or a D4 to step in to help you. These days really depend on how the patient reacts too. If the patient is OK with the treatment, it makes life a lot easier.

Looking forward, what excites you the most?

I’m looking forward to a time where I feel really confident. There are a few things you get a lot of practice with, but there are other procedures where you’ve done only a few. I’ve heard you don’t get there until 10 years after you graduate. Then again, getting