My Journey to DDS
Well that's it! Dental school is over & I'm honored to be working as a general dentist with Dr. Brian Woodard and our WONDERFUL staff in Grove City, Ohio. If you're looking for a dentist, I'm accepting new patients!
I think any dental student across the nation can empathize with the daily struggles dental school brings. Let’s be real. Dental students are type A personalities aka overachievers. We have the ability to juggle book work, lab work, and outside commitments with ease. Okay, maybe not with ease but we get it done nonetheless!
Here's a little background on my journey to DDS... I graduated from OSU with my Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene. Throughout the hygiene program I had every intention of continuing onto dental school. My first year into the dental hygiene program I was so overwhelmed, how on earth was I going to keep up with this rigorous undergraduate schedule AND take my dental school perquisites on top of it all?? Not going to lie- there were many times I wanted to give up on my life long dream of becoming a dentist. Fitness was not a priority in my life at this time & my body felt the repercussions. But thanks to my strong support system at home, my family kept me motivated to see the big picture.
Okay, I'll stop you before reading on. The course of becoming a dental hygienist and then continuing onto dental school is not a common path. Mainly because...it's hell. The typical dental student will major in biology, or nutrition (or some other science background). But to me, a dental background made more sense!
My advise to ANY pre-dental student who might stumble across this blog post (other than getting good grades and DAT scores) is do as much dentistry as you can before dental school!
· Become an dental assistant/ EFDA/ Registered Hygienist
· Do a dental mission trip
· Get a job in a dental lab or at a local dental school
GO ABOVE & BEYOND the bare minimum of your observation hours. Anything hands on will just boost your chances of getting accepted!
The first two years in the class room learning dentistry, basic science courses (anatomy, physiology, microbiology), as well as learning hand skills in the pits; aka drilling on a fake set of teeth.
Honestly dental school was a blur, ha! But the frantic pace of dental school life is something you'll never forget. Someone once told me, "dental school is like standing in front of a fire hydrant crushing you with a powerful stream of water"; so much information is thrown your way,you just try to capture as much as you can.
But I do vividly remember the tail end of my second year in dental school. I had yet to find a balance between school and life, something every professional student can comprehend. Post-it notes reminding me of tasks I had yet to complete. Endless pages of study guides that needed to me memorized. Empty coffee mugs and dental decks scattered across my kitchen table. My days were productive, but I felt unbalanced.
That's when I turned to fitness. It was my relief. My therapy. It kept me sane. I started my fitness journey during my second year of dental school & I wish I would have started sooner!
Thanks to my wonderful husband, my amazing #DDSgang, and my loving family. I couldn't have done it without you!
How I got into fitness: Well I always wanted to be proud of my body but never wanted to put in the work. I would get easily discouraged and quit. One day D2 year (second year of dental school) I decided to go for it. I was browsing social media and came across @Fitgirlsguide 28 day kick start challenge. I thought hmmm... this seems like the jump start that I need. I entered the program and the e-book suggested creating an Instagram handle to keep yourself accountable. I jumped into the program with 100% dedication and saw a little bit of progress over the 4 week program. I was ready for another challenge and that's when I stumbled across @Kayla_Itsines Bikini Body Guide. My Instagram was slowly starting to grow & little did I know this amazing community that I joined consisted of so many supportive women who all had a like mindset of bettering their lives through health & fitness.
Balancing a fit lifestyle isn't easy. It takes a lot of dedication and yes, some restrictions. I wasn't allowing myself to order a large pizza while cramming for a final anymore. I realized planning & prepping food was my best friend. If I had healthy options ready to go I was set, if not I would resort to fast food or delivery. This is not just the case with professional school, it's the same with starting a new job, being a parent, or being a spouse.... we all have other priorities in life- we need to manage and balance according to our needs and goals.
Every dental student is excited for third year because the academic course load drops significantly (with the exception of pathology, orthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, etc...). Starting third year means it's time to put all our hard work & time spent in the pre clinic lab to good use. We're ready to treat our own patients.
Little did we know, as a dental student, we would adopt many roles: assistant, receptionist, nutritionist, hygienist, social worker, lab tech, therapist, and last but not least- the dentist. Time passed a lot more tolerably third year and as soon as we knew it fourth year was upon us.
Four years passed. After countless hours of preparation and studying, I'll never forget the day I opened that envelope to see PASS! All requirements were met, all sections of National and Regional boards were passed, I learned a heck of a lot of dentistry, and it's was time to join the real world of private practice!
I wish I would have known:
Make sure you know your limits. If you push yourself too hard, you'll get burnt out really quickly.
Learn the best study technique for you. Groups? Alone? Rewrite the notes? Read them out loud? If you learn that now, you'll save a lot of time while studying for an exam. If it's ineffective, don't do it.
Don't compare yourself to others in the class. Most dental students are so used to being the best and brightest. You will stress yourself out if you're constantly trying to compete.
Focus on developing your hand skills. They definitely won't happen overnight (unless you're a prodigy), so practice practice practice.
More importantly, I'm glad I....
Aimed to get A's on my first exams - starting off well was a huge motivator and it helped reduce the stress later in the course.
Found a balance through fitness and kept a healthy sleep schedule.
For those who just started following my journey I know it's not easy to balance school/work, relationships, and fitness. But if I can do it SO CAN YOU! I'm so happy to have found such a passion for fitness while working towards one of my lifetime goals. Surviving dental school with a fit lifestyle actually made life more manageable. It took a lot of time management & planning but it is all worth it! I'm proud to have graduated with honors and truly believe with hard work and determination ANYTHING is possible....We should never set limits on our dreams.