It’s Been Awhile…

Sorry for the long absence. I got extremely busy and then the blog kind of got put on the back burner.

There is a lot to fill you in on. My wife and I are expecting a baby in mid April which is really exciting. My wife and the baby are doing great. There haven’t been any problems and overall the pregnancy has gone smoothly. Once the baby is here, my wife, who teaches fourth grade now, will stay home full time. Fortunately, the due date lines up perfectly for maternity leave to go through the end of the school year so she won’t have to go back to teach at the end of the year which works out well. (It’s almost like we planned it or something).

The reason it will work for us for my wife to stay home with the baby is mostly due to the Health Professions Scholarship. The scholarship comes to around $28,000 per year in addition to covering tuition, books and my health insurance. This plus what we have saved will get us through the next two and a half years.

I took the National Dental Boards Part 1 on December 29. Fortunately I passed on my first attempt. I was dreading having to continue studying to retake the test over spring break. In terms of studying, I started casually in early November going through the Dental Boards Mastery app. It was developed by students at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and it is pretty great. It’s basically the Dental Decks in your pocket. The app keeps track of what you get right and wrong, which subjects to work on and different categories within the subjects that you are weakest. It also gives detailed explanations of the answers for each question. The app is really convenient because you can get through a handful on the bus or between classes without having to carry around a bunch of flashcards from the decks. It also has other great information like important terms and mnemonics which are really helpful. I went through the entire app. I liked that I could gauge my progress as I studied. Most of my class used it, some people only used this app. We all really liked it.

In addition to the app, I used a First Aid book from 2009. I think it was the second edition. This book is good to fill in the gaps that you don’t remember from the basic science classes and refresh what you did learn. I used First Aid for all of the subjects except anatomy. I did not like how this section was presented. It didn’t really fit with my learning style. For the anatomy section, I used the notes from the anatomy class we had as D1s. This worked for me because the professor for this class really geared it toward dental students. We had two units over general anatomy and the rest of the class was just head and neck. I skipped the first two units and then went through everything from the rest of the class. I focused most of my time on this section since the questions here can be very detailed. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time on general anatomy; I only had two or three questions from that material.

I also used released exams to gauge my progress. I bought a CD of released exams from an upperclassman and my school provided some as well.
I really buckled down to study after Thanksgiving. This was difficult while simultaneously studying for finals. I didn’t enjoy the second half of November or any of December too much. We finished up finals week on December 19 and then it was all day everyday devoted to boards. My wife and I went home for Christmas early on the 24th and then came back late on the 26th. I took two sets of released exams (I think they were from 2004 and 2009, each had 200 questions; the actual test is 400) and simulated a test for myself to see if I needed to study at home over Christmas. I got an 80% on this practice test. Part 1 boards are scored on an adjusted scale. So according to many sources, you need somewhere around a 65% to get a passing score of 75. I’m glad I tested myself so that I knew I could take some time off and relax over Christmas. According to the 1998 conversion chart an 80% is a score of around 92 or something like that. I’m not sure if that chart is still applicable but it definitely gave me confidence. Once we got back, I used the 27th and 28th to review everything and then took the test on the 29th. It was a long day (7 hours) and some of the questions were kind of obscure but for the most part, it seemed like a manageable test. The test is split up into two sections each with 200 questions. I went through each section and put answers for everything even if I wasn’t sure and then I went back through the section again to check my answers. I finished each section with about a half an hour to spare. Overall I felt somewhat confident when I was done. Then came the waiting game.

I think Part 1 boards are curved based on the group that takes the test during a certain time period. That means that you don’t get your score right away like the DAT even though you take the test on a computer. On Friday January 16th, my wife and I went home for a baby shower. This was the only time that worked for us since we both had Monday off for Martin Luther King day. The problem with this was the results from boards came on Saturday the 17th. We had an appointment in our home town Monday morning to have a family friend look at our car so I was stuck waiting all of Saturday, all of Sunday, and most of the morning on Monday and then we had a five hour drive back before I could get my results. It was torture to wait all weekend after so many people in my class were putting “Passed!” on Facebook. I considered driving back to our apartment Sunday morning and then returning Sunday night but that wouldn’t have changed whether I passed or not so I begrudgingly decided against it.

First semester went well. We started treating operative and preventive patients which is pretty awesome. (Preventive patients are just prophy recalls) A lot of schools don’t have D2s treat patients but we have the opportunity to with several checks along the way by faculty. We actually saw three patients last year a D1s for prophy appointments. Didactic courses also went well. We had fixed prosthodontics lab and lecture, operative lecture, growth and development, oral pathology, human pathology, microbiology, anesthesia and pain control, experiential learning, and periodontics (I think that’s everything). I ended up doing well in all the classes even with studying for boards over finals which I was pretty happy about.

As for second semester, we have fixed pros 2 that is ending soon and will be replaced by removable partial denture prosthodontics. We are also taking orthodontics lecture and lab, esthetic dentistry, basic pharmacology, pediatric dentistry, oral radiology, and we are continuing experiential learning, operative, and oral pathology, as well as seeing patients most Tuesdays in either operative or preventive clinics. We will be starting anesthesia and pain control 2 in March and Endodontics lab and lecture in April. They keep us pretty busy but it is going well. I will post some pictures below of some restorations I have done this year in the sim clinic.

I think that pretty much covers everything that has happened so far this year. I’m hoping to keep things up to date from now on.

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With this restoration, I took the picture before I put in the proximal boxes on the mesial and distal to take care of the unsupported enamel. These teeth have simulated caries in them. You normally would not leave that ML cusp unsupported like that but the tooth had more caries than it should have so I had to just follow the simulation. I also cleaned up the distal of that cusp before restoring with dispersalloy.

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I don’t have a before picture but this was a simulated class IV. We were practicing with different opacities of material to match a real tooth. It looks a little too translucent because the adjacent teeth are solid plastic but it was actually correct.

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This restoration was a 3 surface composite. The picture of the prep is after I built up the mesial and distal contacts and then removed the matrices to finish.

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This is from fixed pros II. We did a prep for an all ceramic crown in fixed pros I, scanned it with Cerec and had the crowns milled in the lab at school. We just got them back today to do the external characterization. The instructors showed us a finished crown to mimic since we couldn’t copy the adjacent teeth. I also added in a few craze lines for fun.

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Health Professions Scholarship Program

Alright, so here is the big news of the semester…I found out shortly after Thanksgiving that I was accepted to the 3 year Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program! For those of you who don’t know, the HPSP is a deal where I will get the next three years of dental school paid for (tuition and fees) and I will be given a generous living stipend in exchange for serving as a dentist in the Air Force for three years after graduating. I will also be able to apply to stay for a fourth year and have 72% of my first year paid back. I couldn’t believe it when I found out. I’ve always wanted to join the military and now I’m getting the chance.

There was a slight problem, though. Originally when I was applying for the scholarship, I was under the impression that I would not hear about a selection until around January or February. I was over the weight requirement at the beginning of the school year (a lot of sitting around and studying can do that) and I had made a plan to get in shape based on January being the deadline. After hearing that I was accepted and would need to pass the physical in December, my diet was accelerated more than I would have liked. Some days consisted of around 900 calories and an hour on a bike at the gym. Not fun during finals week, let me tell you. Well, all in all, I lost 38 pounds, quite a bit of that in the past two months, and easily passed my physical. According to my recruiter, I will be sworn in sometime in the next few weeks and become a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. I won’t have much for duties throughout the rest of my time at dental school. After graduating I will go to Commissioned Officer Training in Alabama for five weeks, then I will be promoted to Captain and then stationed on a base to serve as a dentist to military members and their families.

Thanks for reading and happy studying!

 

One Semester Down, Seven to Go

Hey everyone. Sorry for the long absence. Dental school is just as busy as everyone tells you. I have probably had opportunities to write through the semester but I have been a little lazy in my free time. After so much studying, when I get a break I kind of check out.

Ok…where do I even begin? I made it through my first semester of dental school unscathed. I ended up getting mostly A’s and a couple B’s. I’m perfectly ok with that. I don’t want to specialize and those are respectable grades anyway. The study schedule I wrote about kind of went out the window early on first semester. It was a great plan overall, but like I said earlier, I’m kind of lazy sometimes so I eased into a slightly more lax study routine. Once we got into the swing of classes, we had a few tests or quizzes most weeks. Studying ahead as I had previously planned became difficult and I just studied for the tests as they came. It worked well for me.

Dental school is definitely hard and a lot of work. Before I started, I was told the worst kind of horror stories about it like, “you better get used to not seeing your wife” or “I hope you enjoyed sleeping in undergrad because you won’t for the next four years.” Obviously those warnings were exaggerated. I kind of let them get to me though. I thought these would be the worst four years of my life and I would regret every minute of it. Since I started school thinking like this, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of free time I have. It isn’t much most of the time, and nowhere near the amount of free time I had in undergrad but it is more than I was expecting. I have time every night to spend with my wife, watch a little TV or do something not related to school. There were two, maybe three days this semester where I literally had no free time because I was nervous about a test the next day. I think I have test anxiety sometimes and I thought that these might be the tests that I bomb and prove that I don’t belong in dental school. That was a slight overreaction. They went fine. I usually only study until around 10pm but I studied until around 11:30 those days. Usually the night before the test I study until 10, go to bed around 11:15 and then I wake up at 6am, take the 6:40 bus to school and study until the test, which last semester was almost always in the morning. That is what worked for me.

As for classes, we recently started operative dentistry in the simulation clinic after dental anatomy ended, which is great. That is where we practice restorations on fake and pulled teeth. It’s nice having a class that is so focused on dentistry unlike the basic sciences that are just a repeat of undergrad. Using the handpiece and burs is pretty fun. I’ve always really been into art so it just feels like an art class to me.

I’ve officially taken my last physiology and biochem classes, which is a great feeling. We are moving on to anatomy and histology this January. We will be working with cadavers, which I did in undergrad so nothing new there. In undergrad though we kept the face covered. This time, we focus on the head and neck. I’m not looking forward to that part. I’ve never had histology but it shouldn’t be too bad. We start two or three other classes throughout the semester but I haven’t looked for enough ahead to know what those are.

That is all I have for now. Thanks for reading! Hopefully many of you got acceptances in December! If not, there is still plenty of time. Good luck to those getting ready to take the DAT!

 

 

The iPad App I Cannot Live Without

The app that I cannot live without is Goodnotes. I would recommend everyone who has an iPad and is in school use this app. I use it for literally everything. My school has all of the lecture slides, our full class schedule, and other important information posted online as PDFs. I store all of this in my Goodnotes app. I also scanned my dental anatomy book, all my syllabi, and multiple information packets into the app to stay organized. You can create multiple folders to keep everything separated. In these folders you can have different notebooks for different units or however you want to separate things.

One of the greatest things about this app is being able to write with a stylus. It has a close up writing box with auto advance feature that is just great for writing. The writing is fluid and natural, and can either be a ball point or fountain pen. There is a section below the close up box that doesn’t recognize your hand so it is more comfortable than most handwriting apps. You can change colors and sizes of pens, and highlighters. There is also a lasso tool to circle what you wrote/drew and move or resize it, a great great great feature.

The PDFs are also searchable which is awesome for studying. (My physiology notes packet is 900 full pages long. Searching is much better than scrolling.)

Goodnotes also can automatically sync with Skydrive or Google Drive. Whenever you update a notebook, it syncs to one of these platforms above saving everything in case your iPad crashes.

There is also WiFi transfer. The app gives you a web address to go to and upload the document you want. You can then access it from your Goodnotes app and download it. I downloaded a 300 page book yesterday in about 5 seconds. It is very fast.

If you don’t believe me, there is a light version of this app available for free. Try it and you will see how great it is. The full version is $4.99 I believe, but it is worth every penny. I could not be happier with this app.

Just so everyone knows, I am not affiliated with this app or being compensated for this review.

As a sidenote, I really like the stylus I use. Here is a link. They are sold on amazon and work great. I used several styluses with the rubber tips but they always wear out really quickly. Rubber tipped styluses don’t slide easily on the screen after they get a little worn. The stylus I use now has a metal-like mesh over the rubber tip. It slides soooo easily on the screen! I have used these for about 6 months and they still have not worn down. I would highly recommend them.

Good luck!