Stay happy in dental school with a little play

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Creators of “Luck O’ The Dice” (left to right) Melissa Greenburg, Mark Greenburg, Jacob Zurcher, Heather Zurcher

A little more than two years ago, our journey began. We had a simple goal and we were pretty sure we were going to have a lot of fun along the way. As you can already tell, this blog post doesn’t have anything to do with dentistry. This is about the path that some students took to survive the stress of dental school.

During my first year in dental school, Dr. Greer, an oral pathologist and novelist, told our class that we each needed to have a hobby other than dentistry. At the time, I didn’t know how I would find time for that. But Dr. Greer’s remarks left an impression on me. And the next year I did something about it.

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The Master Production Copy

I decided to create a board game with some of my friends. Two years later and we received our first shipment of games (for more information, visit our website). This project was certainly harder than we thought it would be, but it has also been a lot of fun and has given us something besides class, tests and patients to think about. We had to learn about creating a business, applying for a trademark, working with game manufacturers… the list goes on. Having something else to focus on besides dental school has made all the difference for me, and I’m not the only one who feels this way.

In fact, psychologists and psychiatrists agree with this point of view. Play is just as important to adults as it is for children. “Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships” (read more here). This is true for me as I have had this project to the side. Play is going to be different for every individual.  For some it may be music or art, while for others it might simply be reading a book.

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Main image by Adam Borgia

I started incorporating “play” into my life about three years ago and it has brought me a lot of happiness. Instead of trudging through life, I feel like I am now experiencing it. I used to have so many ideas that I would just ignore, saying to myself,  “I have to focus on school right now.” But it got to me enough that I decided to make a change. “Luck O’ The Dice,” our made-up Irish card game, is only one of the products that has come out of this shift. I have also finished the first draft of a novel. I have already seen success from these endeavors. Every single potential employer who has looked at my resume has brought up “Luck O’ The Dice,” and Mark Greenburg, one of the developers of the game, experienced the same thing when he was interviewing for ortho graduate programs. I have the job of my choice, Mark will be attending UMKC ortho program and Adam Borgia (the illustrator), is attending an AEGD in Arizona.  We all have become dentists! Although there has been some immediate success, the true success in my eyes has been the fun and happiness that has enriched our lives.

 ~Dr. Jacob Zurcher, University of Colorado ’15

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About Jacob Zurcher

Jacob was born in Sacramento, CA, and later moved to Salt Lake City, UT. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University where he met his wife, Heather. Jacob is currently studying dentistry at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Jacob loved playing games with his family while growing up, which gave him the desire to create his own game. In his free time, he enjoys running, writing, landscaping, and trying to think of innovative ideas.

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