First Year: That’s a Wrap!

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A dental classmate napping during lecture
Between lectures is a good time to nap. (Not me)

So, what did my first year of dental school look like? Well, here is our first year in summary, credit goes to a fellow classmate:

  • 403 lectures
  • 53 exams
  • 67 quizzes
  • 88 dental lab projects
  • 16 anatomy cadaver labs
  • 10 practical examinations
  • 9 case study group presentations
  • 7 dental rotations
  • 1 research paper

Looking back it is easy to forget just how much you can learn in a year. I had no idea how to classify a tooth lesion. Heck, I had no idea how to count teeth! When I think back on what we’ve learned this year, I can only imagine how much more next year will bring.

I remember my first day in the simulation clinic. We were surrounded with a huge array of instruments and tools that most of us couldn’t identify. It was simultaneously intimidating and thrilling. It took all year, but we used everything they gave us those first couple of weeks in SIM!

Midwestern University Dental Simulation Clinic

Our first year is dedicated mainly to basic sciences, our second year is spent in preparation for the clinic. As second year students we will learn Invisalign, basic ortho and endo, hard and soft tissue lasers, tooth extraction, some perio, and continue to hone our restorative skills.

This year we learned how to place composite and amalgam class I, II, III, and V restorations. We also performed several endo accesses on simulated and real teeth. I made my first set of bleach trays, performed multiple head and neck exams, and cleaned a classmate’s teeth using handscalers and an ultrasonic.

We all got really good at placing dental dams in Dexter’s mouth and making stone models is getting easier all the time. We fumbled our way through using articulators and perfected our indirect technique using loupes and mirrors.

Simulation dental patient with a dental dam

Many of us volunteered our time to help those in need, and some of us lead our class in new directions. Some students spent time doing research projects, others focused their efforts on studying.

Maybe the most exciting thing about the end of first year, is knowing that from here on out we are focused on our future profession. We are told that our first year includes roughly 250 hours of dental courses, and that our second year is around 750. Third and fourth year we will be doing even more than that!

Networking

I have made many good friends here, and I still have three years to go. One of the most overlooked aspects of professional training is networking. Knowing people who work or have connections in places you might be interested in living is important. Having mentors and advisers to help you during your first years as a fledgling dentist is incredibly valuable.

At our school, students are very collegiate and professional. My classmates never fail to impress me. One big fear I think most of us have is that we will end up in a class with a lot of gunners. From a class of 140 students there is no one I would consider a gunner.

Dental conference with Midwestern University students

This year I really branched out and joined student government, ASDA, traveled to Washington DC to represent my peers before Congressional leaders, and stayed involved on campus. I was honored to be featured in AGD Impact’s June edition talking about this very subject!

I can’t wait to see what next year will bring, and am happy looking back on this year. There are so many things I accomplished this year that I wouldn’t have imagined before dental school. Who I am today is completely different from who I was a decade ago.

Take it from me, a guy who was lazy in high school, lazier in college, and who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life until his mid-20s. You can go as far as you want to in life. There are very few obstacles you can’t overcome with patience, persistence, and time.

If I can surviveeven thriveduring my first year of dental school, you can too!

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