In between the early morning runs to Starbucks, and late nights study sessions, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle of a dental student. But every now and then, it’s important to remind ourselves that these four years of school form just one chapter in the story of our lives. Here are five tips that will guarantee success not only in dental school, but also throughout your life.
Study smart- Research done by Larry Rosen, published in Computers in Human Behavior, found that when 263 students working on an important project were observed in their normal study environment, it took an average of 2 minutes for them to get distracted by social media. Only 65% of their time was spend on the task at hand. Keep this in mind and keep distractions at bay. Put your phone in a different room or use an app to lock yourself out of social media while you’re on the computer. Learn your study style and minimize distractions whenever possible.
Make each day count- When I hear people say “But…dental school is four years!” I always think to myself, “Man, dental school is ONLY four years!” You are surrounded with so many opportunities and resources to succeed. Having said that, making time for yourself is important. Work out, eat healthy, make time for your family and friends, and continue doing what it was that mattered to you before you started dental school. Once you graduate these are likely the things that will matter the most. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” (For more wellness resources, click here.)
Form longitudinal relationships with your faculty- Your professors in dental school can be incredible resources to you beyond the scope of your class year. If you are interested in a particular specialty, spend time going to your professor’s office hours, find out what research they are involved with and ask them about it. Try attending lunch talks or seminars to broaden your knowledge of the field. Your professors can help you network in organized dentistry and offer insight into career paths you are interested in.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture- Think of your journey through dental school as the “cinematic trailer” for the rest of your life. While doing well on exams and in classes is undoubtedly important, it is equally important to take advantage of the opportunities which surround you. Get involved in something that you’re passionate about, whether it is volunteering at a community dental clinic, getting involved with ASDA, doing research, etc. This will not only enhance your working knowledge of dentistry in the real world, but it will also allow you to get a feel for what kinds of things you would like to pursue long term throughout your career.
Share the journey with others- They say that without friendship, life is nothing. That saying rings true especially in dental school because the friends you make here are the ones who will be your support network now, your colleagues in the future, and some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. You will be blown away by the sheer brilliance of your classmates, and although it sounds cliché, the things you learn from them can be far more valuable than anything one can learn from books. As Emerson famously said, “Every person you meet, knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
And there you have it! The journey through dental school will be exactly what you make of it. Take chances, pursue your passions, and make it an experience you’ll never forget.
~Deepti Shroff, Harvard ’19