Midwestern Dental Orientation Week: Day Three

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Empty Lecture Hall

Today was the final day of the Midwestern dental orientation week. Next week the fire hose of basic science comes flooding down upon us all. Years of persistence and hard work have led us here and none of us plans to fail.

Our pre-clinical professors introduced themselves to us this morning. They are a diverse, playful, and collegial bunch. There are no obvious turf wars or grand egos, but time will tell. I mean if there are, they are very good at hiding it. Professors were not afraid to poke fun at themselves, each other, and to generally have a good time introducing themselves to us.

The fact that most, if not all of our professors maintain a license to practice speaks volumes about their commitment to the field of dentistry. Most of our professors have many years of real-world clinical experience under their belt. I was surprised to hear that almost all of them have at least a decade of teaching behind them too.

A couple of schools I interviewed at had very young adjunct faculty members who are themselves recent graduates. Yesterday, Dr. Dugoni said that it takes three to five years to achieve a level of competence in the field of dentistry after graduation. I remain skeptical of schools that employ large numbers of recent graduates for that reason.

So now we’ve signed on the dotted line and are locked into this program. They could drop the act if it was one. These guys are not trying to fool anyone, and it shows. They love their jobs and they aren’t shy about showing us. One professor even sang Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon! I wish my undergraduate professors had been half of that enthusiasm.

Opportunities abound

Later in the day, student representatives from various dental clubs talked about what they offer. Many of us kind of wanted to join all of them. Apparently I can even join the American Association of Women Dentists. No really, they actually want males to join them! Who knew?

I was excited by the student research group because I have a background in research. I only worry that I won’t have time to commit to a project. I spoke to a lot of classmates who had the same concerns.

The American Student Dental Association has many exciting opportunities. They seem like a great organization to be involved with. The field of dentistry is up against a lot. It is up to us to organize, offer alternative solutions, and to provide expert feedback when necessary. The opportunities they offer for travel to national conferences and getting into the political side of things seems very exciting.

There are tons of other student organizations too. There is H.O.M.E. which treats transient patients in three separate Phoenix clinics for free. The American Association of Public Health Dentistry performs charitable outreach to remote and underserved communities in Arizona and abroad. Then of course there is student government, specialty interest groups, religious groups, military groups, honors societies, and on it goes.

The image maven

We ended the day with an excellent presentation from Janice Hurley. She calls herself the “The Image Expert”. She has certainly made a profession of being image conscious. Topics ranged from pattern matching to neck shaving. Honestly, I wish I knew more about style and image.

Ms. Hurley offered many pearls during her speech. One I will share here is that she considers fashion to be like grammar. You can hang out with people who don’t think twice about your poor use of grammar. But people who know better will judge you.

Likewise, you can hang out with people who don’t care about your fashion, but people who know better will still judge you. She says that perception is what really matters. So it is important that we give our patients, our colleagues, and anyone else we meet the right impression.

Phoenix is hot…

After the orientation ended we had a barbecue that was organized by the Student Government Association (SGA). We got to meet some of the upperclassmen and chat for a while. Being dressed in business casual outside is not a good idea when it is 113 degrees outside!

It is getting late, and I have an early day tomorrow. Our orientation is over, but we receive our Macbook Pros tomorrow and get fitted for our loupes. I picked up my ID badge this afternoon. I am now officially a card-carrying dental student of Midwestern College of Dental Medicine. In just over a month we will have our white coat ceremony.

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