Second Year: From Classroom to Clinic

11074996_10152809719931732_8997388782028137916_n Up to this point in dental school, I have had the perfect patient for every crown and restoration I’ve ever done. They’ve stayed perfectly still, let me put them in any number of ridiculous positions in order to get direct vision, and let me stretch their cheeks out over their ears if that’s what I needed. Their teeth all had perfect anatomy, their tongue never got in the way, and even if I sent a bur through their cheek, they never complained.

That’s because until this summer, I have only ever done restorative dentistry on a rubber mannequin I refer to as Plaquesico Burress. That all changes now that I have a few class II restorations planned on a living, biting, enamel-wielding patient. The transition into the real clinic is an extremely intimidating and stressful experience for all of us DS2’s, even though we know we’ll get the hang of it. Our class has been told time and time again that we are leaps ahead of where the graduating class was at this point in their second year, but we can’t help feeling like we really have no idea what’s going on.

This short article will give you all of the tips you need to seamlessly transition to the second floor clinic in the second week of May during your second year of dental school. Except that it won’t. (I am just as lost as the rest of you). What it might do is help us realize that even though we don’t know how to do everything yet, we do know how to talk to the right people to help us figure it out. After all, Dr. Woolum hates to see us cry.

So, use the faculty. Even though we’ve all seen some of them sneaking around the school as 5 o’clock approaches, avoiding eye contact so they can sneak out undisturbed to the life they apparently have outside the school, for the most part they just want to help. Remember that they had to jump through all of the same hoops at some point in their lives and I think it’s fair to say most of them want to make it easier on us. You may even surprise yourself and do everything correctly, leading to that awkward moment when all the faculty says to your question is “looks good,” so you leave even more afraid than when you came in.

Next, talk to your coordinator. Frequently. They are all very good at their jobs, but we need to realize they are in charge of managing dozens of students and hundreds of patients. If we need a patient or have an issue with a patient, it is up to us to ask them for help. They can’t make everyone happy all the time, but if you talk to them face to face you’ll usually get what you're looking for.

My third tip is to learn Axium. Thoroughly. That’s about all I can say about it. Hopefully when I reread this article I’ll find it convincing enough that I'll actually sit down for an hour or two myself and make sure I can do everything we need to on that lovely program. After all, it holds the key to us graduating on time.

Finally, practice what you’ve learned in the sim clinic. We all like to think that since we passed our direct restorative lab last summer we’ll be able to fill anything our coordinator throws our way. But maybe we need to go back and see if we even remember how to tighten down a Tofflemire retainer first. The truth is, many of us haven’t practiced those restorations much since then because we’ve been searching for the mythical undercut or figuring out if acrylic provisionals are just a joke the faculty is playing on us. We all love ISTR by the way. So yeah, practice. All parties involved will be very glad you did. Go into your appointments with more confidence, and both your patient and faculty will be more relaxed and cooperative.

So take it from me, someone who has literally no more experience or knowledge on the subject than you do, the transition to the clinic will go smoothly and will actually be fun. After all, this is what we’re really here for right?