For any specialty resident, dental school graduation is a tease. While friends leave to begin their careers, you’re off to the trenches of postgraduate education. Residency has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my professional pursuit. I hope to share five ways that will ease your transition into residency.
“Adam, stop suturing. You’re bleeding.” A look of terror flushed over me as I removed the needle from the extraction socket. I recalled my patient’s mention of Hepatitis B and immediately panicked. Thoughts of possible co-infection with HIV or Hepatitis C set in. My first sharps injury, and there I stood, helpless and afraid, as I bled from a cut to my thumb.
We learn all about these types of occupational exposures in the classroom. But sometimes, when faced with a real-life situation requiring a rapid decision, it can be hard to know how best to react. While we work carefully to avoid these incidents, they can and will happen. It’s our duty to protect our patients and ourselves by quickly managing and accurately reporting these exposures as they occur.
As May 18th approached, I began receiving the “don’t forget PASS opens” texts from my parents. Like I needed the reminder: I already had nightmares of the application process. One night, I actually herniated a disc in my neck from the stress and insomnia that came from applying. Thankfully, I can laugh at that now.
While my application process was atypical, I feel many of my experiences are relevant to those using the American Dental Education Association’s Postdoctoral Application Support Service (ADEA PASS) and even the Match system. There are plenty of things I wish I’d known or done better, and I’m happy to share them below:
“I brush and floss everyday.” The little white lie heard around the world. It’s hard enough to surface our patients’ oral hygiene habits, and once we do, that only provides a limited scope of their at-home behaviors. When we review social histories, patients quickly deny the use of alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs. But can we take that to be true? If our patients cannot honestly discuss their hygiene regimen, imagine how much harder we have to press for accurate, personal details in regard to substance abuse and addiction. However, as healthcare professionals, we have a responsibility to treat total health. “The ADA Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing” presents ways to navigate these difficult patient interactions and even recognize those in similar situations among our dental community.
Ever hit that second snooze and wonder how many seconds you could save in the shower, cut down getting ready or maybe just skip breakfast? While the few minutes more of sleep may seem worthwhile in the moment, the empty stomach and unclear focus to your morning routine will catch up to you by noon. I started incorporating “super” smoothies (read: protein) into my morning and found an improvement in my energy levels and performance. With the help of my mom, a personal trainer of 18 years, I hope to inspire you to develop a healthy morning routine that will deliver the same success in the clinic or classroom.
You’re a fiend in the research lab but when it comes to presenting your work, do you exude that same confidence and intellect? Or, does anxiety get the best of you, as judges press you with unanswerable questions for their own amusement? Like most people, I didn’t know how to construct or present a poster. After a few trials, I began approaching to approach presenting like I did writing: start with a good intro and know your audience.
I’m determined to bring back “schmooze.” It’s more than small talk. It’s social networking at its finest. It’s the smooth type of conversation you don’t know you’re having, but still manages to land politicians in office and CEOs in the boardroom hot seat. My father would even describe this conversational tango as an art form. Learning to develop a natural conversation flow is critical in a profession as social and connected as ours. Everyone has intentions when entering a conversation, but it’s how they are pursued that dictates your networking success.