When a computer becomes overrun with more information than its processor can handle, it crashes. The human brain responds much the same. Take me, for example. I recently wrapped up an ordinary day in the life of a third-year dental student. I had lectures in the morning and treated patients in the afternoon. On the ride home, something felt off. Everything I needed to get done was passing through my mind. I needed to study, finish lab work and prepare a treatment plan for tomorrow’s patient. Aside from school responsibilities, my wife needed me to get groceries. I got home, dropped my bag and knelt on the floor. All at once, those thoughts flooded my brain and I could not move. I just sat there, emotional and frozen.
The 2014 U.S. Census estimated 63.7 million adults 65 years and older will be living in the United States by 2050. Elderly adults are now more likely to keep their teeth, live independently and demand better care. However, they are also more likely to have xerostomia, physical or cognitive impairments and other comorbidities.
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is also one of the leading causes for dentists to retire prematurely. Dentists have reported increased prevalence rates of chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. It is vital to avoid these problems from the beginning of our careers to avoid its ill effects later. As dental students, we concentrate on improving on our clinical work. Seldom do we concentrate on our work posture. So how can we do it?
Many people see their dentist more often than their doctor so establishing a connection with your patients should be a priority. To ease the “awkward” phase of getting to know patients, several dentists have chosen creative marketing techniques that combine their hobbies with social media. The goal is for patients to feel more connected with their dentist and dental health.
I talked to a student recently who graduated dental school a few years ago with $300,000 of student debt (a figure some of you would be happy to have!). For a variety of reasons, she hadn’t worked in the last three years and spent some time overseas before that. Her outstanding debt is now closer to $450,000. In just a few years her outstanding debt increased 50 percent. What happened?
We all want to feel accepted, included and a part of something bigger. For most of us, becoming a dentist was once just a dream. Now we have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop skills to achieve our dream. Dentistry is a social, collaborative and interactive profession that requires empathy, compassion and respect. We work hard so that, one day, we can take care of our patients. However, the environment of dental school can exacerbate existing insecurities. As a consequence, we sometimes forget how to take care of ourselves and our peers.
The June/July issue of Contour is all about the road to residency. In this Management Monday post, Drs. Ivy Peltz and Eric Studley shed light on finding the right residency for you. Both Drs. Peltz and Studley are professors at NYU College of Dentistry. While Management Monday usually focuses on how to manage people or run a dental office, the first stop to building this type of experience is usually a residency. For more from these authors, check out their op-ed piece in June/July Contour.
At this time of year, we have become accustomed to answering two questions asked by third-year dental students. The first is: “Should I apply to residency programs?” The second is: “How do I know which residency program is right for me?”