Taking the First (Baby) Step

This summer I am getting my first taste of dental school. I applied for a summer program geared toward people with a GPA or DAT score lower than the average accepted into last year’s class or who are at all nervous about beginning dental school. I wasn’t accepted. But anyway…

Since I was not one of the student accepted to the summer program, my school generously offered me the opportunity to audit a physiology course for PA and nurse anesthetist students over the summer since I would be in town anyway. The class is the same general physiology course that I will be taking first semester this coming year with my dental school classmates as well as M1s at the medical school. Same material and same tag-team of professors teaching it. I know many current dental students would advocate taking the summer off and relaxing before the school year begins. But, to be honest, I am a little nervous about starting dental school. The amount and difficulty of the material is intimidating. High school and undergrad didn’t involve excessive amounts of studying so I would rather get the chance to start myself off slow and get ahead for the first semester. I accepted the offer and am into my third week of physiology.

So far it’s pretty manageable; a lot of review from undergrad; physiology mixed with biochem and immunology. We have covered ion channels, action potentials, muscle physiology, and pain perception just to name a few.

I was surprised by the amount of material in the class. The individual classes don’t give too much information to handle, but the outlined notes available for the class is 900 pages long! One single class! Not 900 powerpoint slides, 900 full sheets of computer paper. You can either get a free electronic version (which is what I did) or pay for a printed version which is just short of a full ream of paper printed front and back! It cost $70 just for the ink! That surprised me. I’m sure there are current dental students or medical students who would read this and laugh at how naive my reaction to this was. That’s ok. Now I have a better idea of what to expect from a graduate level course.

So far, I’m really happy with my decision to audit the class. It’s giving me a chance to perfect my study strategies without any real pressure. I can’t take any of the tests because I will be taking this same class in the fall. Right now, I am trying to preview each lecture ahead of time learning what I can on my own, either the day before or the morning of, and then using lecture as more of a “study time” rather than a “learning time.” Later that day I write out my own condensed notes of each lecture from the notes I took on the outline during class; I try to keep this to five pages or less. With this strategy, I am covering the material two or three times in a single day depending on when I do my preview. Will I be able to keep this plan up in dental school? I have no idea. Maybe I will be too busy to devote that much time to each subject. But it is working well right now so I will stick with it.

That’s all I have for right now.

Thanks for reading!