Three things I wish I knew before starting dental school

You have worked your entire college career with the hopes of getting that phone call or letter in the mail that tells you those three magic words: You are inIf you are anything like I was after being accepted to dental school, you are over the moon. Here are the three things I wish I knew before starting dental school:

  1. Your classmates are not your competition. They are your colleagues.  Help each other, learn from each other, listen to each other.  There will be days you spend every waking moment together. No one will understand what you are going through better than your classmates, so take the time to become friends with all of them. Talk to them about more than just school, learn about their families and how they used to spend their precious free time. You will need them the next four years and beyond – you’ll likely stay friends and see each other at ADA and other dental meetings! I promise that if you view them as colleagues rather than competition, you will not only endure dental school, but you will thrive.
  2. Take time to really get to know your professors. They all want you to succeed — they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t. Listen to what they have to say and not just so you can ace that test. Listen to them so that someday you can think back and utilize the knowledge they taught you on the clinic floor. There is truly only so much you can learn from a textbook, so take advantage of your time at school to pick the brains of your amazing instructors. They will enjoy the company and you will be thankful once you are out in the real world.
  3. It’s important to have fun. It is easy to get lost studying and perfecting your lab work, but don’t forget to find time for yourself. I remember sitting there in the heat of second year and feeling like I could hardly hold a conversation with anyone that didn’t revolve around dentistry. I had become so consumed with school that I was starting to lose touch with the outside world. So when you get offered tickets to the ball game or to see your favorite band in concert—GO! If you don’t take time for yourself, you will get burnt out and you will regret losing yourself in the process. Most importantly, don’t forget about your family and friends back home. One day they will be who you will count on as you navigate life outside those school walls!

~Dr. Danielle Riordan, American Dental Association

Dr. Danielle Riordan practices at Family Dentistry of St. Peters in St. Peters, Missouri. She is a member of the ADA, Missouri Dental Association and Greater St. Louis Dental Society. Dr. Riordan graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School.

This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.

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About American Dental Association

The American Dental Association is America’s leading advocate for oral health. With more than 161,000 members, the ADA’s mission is to help all members succeed. Members of ASDA are also student members of the ADA! Learn more at ADA.org/student.

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