Dental school is hard. The second year is harder than the first. At least, that’s my opinion. Here’s a look at what we’ve done over the last couple of years here at Midwestern:
- 792 lectures
- 395 dental lab projects
- 101 quizzes
- 99 exams
- 33 dental rotations
- 21 practical exams
- 18 anatomy cadaver labs
- 15 case study group presentations
- 3 research papers
- 2 anesthesia stab labs
- 1 radiology competency
- 1 OSCE
- 1 DEX competency
- 1 oral exit interview
- 1 NBDE national board exam
*Thanks to classmates Adrienne and Alex for the stats
We spent a lot more time in the simulation clinic this year. At the beginning of every quarter we were inundated with dozens of projects. I still remember our first couple of weeks as D2s like it was last week. I stayed late almost every night for weeks just trying to keep my head above water.
Once we caught up on our projects, things calmed down a bit. But with 395 projects over two years, the vast majority of which were this year, you don’t have a lot of time to complete them. That number doesn’t include the implant placements, orthodontics brackets, the molar extractions, or the endodontic accesses and obturation.
What we did
Looking back, we learned a ton in the simulation clinic. We took our first x-rays, placed our first gutta-percha, and cut into pig jaws with hard and soft tissue lasers. Here’s a list of all the things I remember learning this year:
- Full mouth 18-series x-rays
- Root canal treatment for incisors, premolars, and molars
- Implant placement for Bicon, Hiossen, and Straumann
- Hard and soft tissue diode, CO2, Erbium, Neodymium, and LLLT lasers
- Scaling and root planing
- Class II and IV restorations (last year we learned class I, III, and V)
- Orthodontic brackets with cephalometric analysis
- Composite veneers
- Porcelain veneer preps
- All-ceramic crowns (prep, mill, stain and glaze)
- Tons of crown preps
- Multiple nerve blocks
- Denture fabrication
- Removal prosthetics
- Bridge preps
- Amalgam restorations on adult and pediatric teeth
- Stainless steel crowns on pediatric teeth
- Tooth extractions and suturing techniques
I’m sure I missed something, but that’s the gist. The simulation clinic here at Midwestern is one big reason I decided to attend this school. Given how many hours I have spent with handpieces, I feel very good about working on real teeth. My hand skills have improved enormously from where I started, and owe it all to my instructors, those 300+ projects, and hundreds of hours cutting plastic teeth.
In the classroom
Of course we still had tons of didactic requirements. Every week we took an oral health science exam that spanned all of the usual dental topics including: perio, prostho, endo, ortho, oral surgery, pediatrics, restorative, radiology, oral pathology, and materials science. The perpetual grind of a weekly examination leads to a high rate of burnout. I am definitely feeling the burn.
I realized towards the end of this year just how much I’ve forgotten. Dental school is like drinking from a firehose. So much of what we learn is quickly discarded to make room for something else. Because of that, I decided to download every lecture and document for the first two years of dental school. It took a couple of days, but I think they will come in handy some day.
Although no school is perfect, and there are things I would change about ours, I have really enjoyed my time here. The stress of a high volume curriculum aside, I have learned a ton. My classmates are friendly and collegial, and my hand skills have increased by leaps and bounds.
All of that said, the third and fourth years say that it only gets better from here. In fact, they all seem to agree that it gets much better. Not only will we be treating actual patients and putting what we’ve learned into practice, but the grind of studying for constant examinations is mostly over. For now, it feels good to be 1/2 of a dentist!
Where it all comes together
They say the clinic is where it all comes together. Those ~400 drugs we memorized for pharmacology exams? We’ll learn which ones matter to us. All of the seemingly trivial details we learned about occlusion and anatomy? The clinic takes what’s trivial and transforms it into what’s essential.
I look forward to working with my new partner this year and learning as much as I can. He is currently in Colombia for an implants course. He has placed a couple of TRINIA implant-retained prosthetics this year, so I expect that we will be doing a lot of work with implants this year.
I will be sure to report back at the end of my third year. This year we will hopefully learn a whole bunch of new things I can write articles about. I would love to hear about your experience as a second year at your dental school below!