What is the key to survival in dental school? Some might say the answer lies in how much you study; others might say it has to do with a God-given talent to hold a handpiece. Although countless hours of study and intrinsic drilling abilities are always a plus, everyone who has been through the hurdles of dental school would agree that there is one ultimate key to survival: organization.
Before we can begin learning, we must know where to find information quickly. Balancing a 25-32 credit load can make this task challenging but the solution is to utilize our computers and cell phones. The idea came to me during D1 year when I felt like I was drowning in syllabi and lecture notes. I realized that the best way for me to keep track of each class was to create a computerized file system with divisions and subdivisions. My goal was to place all material sent electronically immediately into its corresponding file so that I could avoid lost time and frustration prior to exams. My system looks like this:
Google calendar is a tool of organization that my entire class uses to keep track of upcoming exams, club meetings, and other events. The class representatives, or anyone willing to volunteer, can be responsible for its creation. The first step is to make a class account on the Google website. Located at the top of the site is a black bar with a link to “calendar.” The link opens into a calendar with several input options. Ideally, all exams are placed into the calendar within the first few weeks of classes and the username/password is distributed. Everyone can then sync the calendar to an iCal and/or an iPhone and have immediate access to the most current schedules.
Entering clinic does not end the need to be organized. In fact, organization is even more important when dealing with patients. Our challenge is to find a way to keep instruments and lab equipment safe and easily accessible. If you have come to realize that your clinic/lab locker is limited on space, you can maximize your storage capacity by using plastic drawer organizers. These organizers can be found in stores such as Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Container Store, and Michaels. You should not be overwhelmed when choosing plastic drawers. As soon as lockers are assigned, measure all dimensions and then go out and buy organizers that will fill up every square inch. You want to be able to neatly store all equipment that is used on a daily basis (handpieces, bur blocks, cassettes, articulator).
Starting off organized can set the stage for the entire year and mastering the art will make dental school all the more tolerable. Whether you are a D1 starting those first weeks of classes or a D3 starting those first weeks of clinic, organization is how a dental student makes it to graduation day.
What are your favorite organization tips? Share them in the comments below!
~Dana Apteker, Nova Southeastern ’15