It wasn’t until I started dental school that I surprised my mother one morning by asking if she could include me in the coffee count. She asked me, “Since when did you start drinking coffee?”
“Since the first week of dental school,” I answered, with a sheepish grin on my face.
Congratulations to all the first-year dental students. You have all worked very hard to get to this point and must continue to do so to to earn your degree. Starting dental school marks not only the start of an important chapter in your professional career, but also the beginning of many new lifestyle choices. In this transitional, yet critical, point in your dental education, I’d like to share some tips to help you survive your first year:
- The most important lesson I learned during my first year was time management. This is crucial to staying on top of your studies, balancing involvement in extracurricular activities and still maintaining your personal life.
- Being organized is a huge component of success. Be strategic, always plan ahead and always be aware of your schedule for the following week. Make sure to write down all important dates on your calendar such as exams, quizzes and when homework is due.
- Consider setting some time aside for yourself. Personally, I almost always took Friday evenings off after classes to enjoy activities outside of dentistry, such as watching a movie or having dinner with friends. This helped me recharge and left me ready to take on the next week.
- Maximize your time by studying effectively. Try changing up the way you study based on the class and its material. For example, drawing pictures was the best way for me to learn head and neck anatomy, but making charts and bullet points was more helpful for learning biochemistry. However, what works for one person may not work for you, remember to focus on strategies that cater towards your personal learning style.
- Always be professional. As a future health care provider, your professional network starts here. You really never know how important the connections you make now will become later down the line, so always strive to make a good impression.
- Keep your body healthy by getting a good night’s sleep. While this may not always be possible, doing so especially before important exams is essential for recharging your mind and staying productive.
- Ask for help early if you feel like you need it. Don’t be shy or afraid to ask for help from your peers, professors or school administration. Everyone wants to help–all you have to do is ask!
- Make the most of your time in dental school by getting involved. Enhancing your leadership and teamwork capabilities through extracurricular activities. For example, getting involved in ASDA towards the end of my first-year opened my eyes to how I could grow both as a health care professional and a leader outside of the classroom. Looking back, this was the best decision I made in dental school thus far. You can be as involved as you want, whether it means helping out with your favorite ASDA event, or becoming more involved as a chair, liaison or executive member. Your experience is what you make of it.
~ Feras Ziadat, Arizona ’18, chapter treasurer