Now that Dec. 1 and Phase I/II Match Days have passed, it’s time for the next round of prospective dental school and residency applicants to start thinking about that personal statement. Many of us remember struggling as predental students to convey our passion for dentistry – all without using the word ‘passion’ – in only 4,500 characters. Yet, whether you’re a predental student or a residency hopeful, writing that personal statement rarely comes easy. After all, the personal statement is often considered the most important part of your application. When thousands of equally qualified candidates are applying to the same program with a similar GPA, test scores and extracurriculars, how can you make yourself stand out among the rest?
Let me be completely transparent: I’m hardly a “light” packer by nature. The suitcase I took on a recent trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, weighed in at a hefty 64 pounds. Want to see me lose my cool? Ask me to magically find a home for 14 pounds of shoes at 4 a.m. in the airport.
When you spend six weeks traveling Europe with a standard 45-liter backpack, you have to get very creative with your limited space. So, over the years, I’ve adapted out of necessity.
I love waking up to the smell of the crisp, mountain air. A gentle breeze rustles the trees. It’s a much-needed respite from the musty city air I’m used to. Most people can’t tell the difference until they have experienced it, but the contrast is unmistakable.
For me, backpacking is a great avenue to escape the stresses of dental school.
Saturday has arrived, and it’s time to play outside after a long week! You get dressed and go out your front door and find it’s been raining, it’s been pouring…this is no time to go back to snoring! Perhaps you are so excited about your Saturday morning run that you are ready to put on shades and hit the puddle-ridden road or muddy trail, knowing a hot shower is the reward at the end of this wet workout.
Not your cup of tea? That’s okay! Luckily, the indoor gym scene is off the hook, and I don’t just mean the athletic club down the road. There are many non-conventional options to spice up your rainy day workout plan.
As a dental student at the University of Michigan, three separate vacations of two weeks each are generally all the break time we get each year. Like students at other programs, this time is usually spent recuperating after final exams and maybe taking a quick vacation to get away. However, thanks to opportunities put in place by our university, students here have the opportunity to travel to places like Greece, Kenya and Guyana during their breaks.
This past August, I was able to take an eye-opening trip to the Bauru School of Dentistry in Brazil. The trip allowed me to experience dentistry not only in a different school but in a different hemisphere. These immersive programs may not seem like top priority when starting school, but after experiencing it firsthand I cannot recommend it enough.
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?”
Regardless of which school you’re attending, what grade point average you’ve maintained or how many scalings and root planings you’ve completed, we instantly and unequivocally answer “YES!!!” to the first question.
When you’ve grown up in a town with a population totaling 9,074 people, wanting to become a dentist at the age of 12 might seem a bit far-fetched. What I didn’t realize at the time was how a rural hometown would benefit me in the process of becoming a dentist as well as when I return home to practice after graduation.
The dentists that have become my mentors are a husband and wife team, and they have known my family and me since I was in preschool. They have invested their attention in me for years and shown me the ropes of a dental practice. Since they both grew up in my little hometown, they knew exactly the position I would be in going into school. They also told me how financially beneficial it could be to come back and work in my hometown after graduation.