How I Applied my Childhood Lessons to my Doctorate Degree


In 2010 my friend Jordan bet me $43 that I couldn’t finish the mega-stack meal from the Coach House Restaurant in Coos Bay, Oregon. Two full racks of spicy ribs and a side of mashed potatoes later I was victorious, but also in the men’s room regretting my decision. In dental school, pride can be dangerous.  If achieving an ends causes you to become physically sick, maybe you should re-evaluate your goal of getting an A on the Radiology final.


As a youngster, I didn’t know the difference between an alpaca and a llama.  Eventually I learned that llamas are much bigger and can be characterized by their long banana shaped ears.

In dental school, just because something looks the same, doesn’t mean it is the same.  The mandibular lateral incisors have incisal edges with banana shaped distolingual twists when compared to their mandibular central counterparts. The details are important, pay attention to them, especially if they are banana shaped.


In elementary school, my favorite class was recess.

In dental school, my favorite class is playing Spike Ball at lunch. It’s important to find a balance between acing tests and acing your classmates with a rubber ball and net.


In 8th grade my middle school hosted a pig scramble in November. Nothing quite says Thanksgiving like running after a greased pig. I ran that unfortunate hog down, clutched it tight, and held on to receive my blue ribbon. Somehow still, this triumph didn’t land me a date to the 8th grade graduation dance.

In dental school, your goals may be slippery and illusive, but if you hold on tight to them, you will eventually get a stable job in a respected profession. This however does not guarantee you will find a spouse. That takes actual charisma and a personality.


One summer day, I was biking around town with a couple older grade-schoolers. After landing the jump successfully himself, one of the 5th graders convinced me to try to jump a creek on my bike by saying “it will be fun and you’ll be cool”. With that compelling argument and a head full of steam, I soared directly into creek.

In dental school, upperclassmen provide you with lots of good advice. Listen to that advice. They also have some bad advice. Don’t listen to that advice. If you do, you may very will wind up in the middle of a creek.  Just because one person had success with a particular method doesn’t mean that it will work for you.  


In high school, I wrote for the school newspaper.  There was one occasion where I was having serious writers block the night before a print deadline. I ended up writing a story about how my childhood experiences had helped me get through high school.  The article was mediocre but the art departments papier-mache masterpieces it contributed to were outstanding.

In dental school, when you have a print deadline for an ASDA blog and you have serious writers block, just go ahead and write an article about how your childhood experiences have helped you survive dental school.  Likely your blog will be a flop, but regardless, thank your readers for making it to the very end and just be internally thankful this blog is digital and your hard work won’t wind up a papier-mache parrot.


Sam doing cool stuff as a kid.