Midwestern Dental Orientation Week: Day Two

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Midwestern University Campus

Where to begin… Today was exactly what we had all been waiting for! From rousing speeches to student introductions. At the end of the day we left with a much better understanding of what’s in store for us over the next four years. Part two of our Midwestern dental orientation was a lot more exciting than part one!

I spent the entire day thinking that I had made the right decision in choosing to attend Midwestern University in Arizona. Which is good since I will be spending the next four years here.

The Midwestern way

We could leave this school in that time having done just enough procedures to pass board examinations and get a license. But that is not enough here at Midwestern. This program is really focused on volume and tons of exposure. They don’t want us to enter the profession without feeling ready to practice on our first day as a dentist. One of our clinical professors today said that, “the most expensive program is one you complete without feeling competent to practice”.

When I was interviewing at other dental schools, I asked two questions which I still believe are important for selecting a program:

  1. What is your student–faculty ratio in the pre-clinic?
  2. And a question for current dental students when they were away from their handlers: “If you were not going to this school, is there another school you would recommend?

Midwestern University Arizona has the lowest student–faculty ratio in the nation at 4.56 : 1. For the second question, I heard from several students at other dental schools that Midwestern University in Arizona was putting out some of the most competent dentists in the nation.

Arthur Dugoni: A Dental Paragon

Today we were treated to an inspiring speech from Dr. Dugoni. He was a huge benefactor for University of the Pacific. Midwestern Arizona has adopted much of his philosophy for our program as well.

At 91 years old he is a four-time cancer survivor. He has an incredibly positive and uplifting attitude. His dental career spans nearly 70 years! He was dean at University of the Pacific which ultimately named its dental school in his honor.

Dr. Dugoni is as much a philosopher as he is a visionary. He espouses high ethical standards and a patient-centric model of delivering dental care. One of his mottoes is that “a professional school should create good people first, and then turn them into doctors”. At the end of his speech, one classmate shouted “Dugoni for president!”.

I will probably never have the same impact on the field of dentistry that Dr. Dugoni did. I mean, the man helped develop Invisalign and the air turbine drills dentists use today. How do you top that? Happily, dentistry isn’t supposed to be about topping anyone which is one reason I chose this field. I will consider myself a successful dentist if I practice with his same grace and dignity.

What lies ahead?

Besides the motivational speeches and the words of encouragement, we also encountered our first hard dose of reality. Basic science are coming and we are about to spend many hours in quiet isolation, studying until our eyes nearly fall from our heads. I had a great gap year with minimal stress.

One thing I like about Midwestern is that we take the board part one after our first year. We get all of the basic science stuff over and done with sooner rather than later. It’s not that I don’t see the value of learning the basic sciences, because I do. It’s just that I remember how stressful it is to study them!

A small sample

DateTimeLecture Title
8/30/201610:00amIntroduction to Histology/Cell Structure I
 11:00amCell Structure II
 1:10pmAmino Acids, Protein Structure, and Enzymes
 2:10pmCarbohydrate & Lipid Structure
8/31/201610:00amCell Membrane & Membrane Transport
 11:00amSignal Transduction I
 1:10pmSignal Transduction II
 2:10pmChromatin Structure & DNA Replication
9/1/20169:00amDNA Repair
 10:00amRNA Synthesis: Transcription
 1:10pmProtein Synthesis: Translation
 2:10pmControl of Gene Expression
9/6/201610:00amInsulin & Glucagon
 11:00amBasic Concepts of Metabolism
 1:10pmLiver-Fed I: Glycolysis, TCA & ETC/OP
 2:10pmLiver-Fed II: Glycogenesis & TG Synthesis
9/7/201610:00amLiver-Fast I: Fatty Acid Oxidation & Ketogenesis
 11:00amLiver-Fast II: Glycogenolysis & Gluconeogenesis
 1:10pmHMP Shunt, Fructose, and Galactose
 2:10pmAmino Acid Catabolism and the Urea Cycle
9/8/20169:00amInterorgan Amino Acid and One Carbon Metabolism
 10:00amMetabolic Cases
 1:10pmCholesterol Metabolism
 2:10pmLipoprotein Metabolism & Disorders

You get the idea I’m sure. This schedule only includes our basic science courses. It does not show our SIM clinic days. To an outsider this may seem like a relatively tame schedule. But anyone who has studied the sciences knows that this is a a lot of material. Anything less than 70% at this school is a failing grade.

Of course most students manage to pass their classes, so this should not be too much of a problem if you work hard. But bombing a single exam for any reason could potentially lead to a failure of the course and force a student to remediate.

So far I really like this place

To wrap this up, I have to say again how generous the faculty and staff at this school have been. From my interviewed all the way until now I have been incredibly pleased with this school and the people behind it.

Today, one of our professors gave us all his personal cellphone number and told us to contact him anytime as long as it is not too late. This is only one example of the generosity that has been displayed by the faculty and staff at this school. I know that I am starting to sound like a fanboy, but I always cheer on people and organizations that I believe are doing good work. I guess we will see how I feel in four years!

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