Addressing anxiety about hand skills

Puppies are funny and cute. They are excited and curious, always ready to take on a challenge. When I think of the dental school experience, I think of dental students as puppies — excited to hold a handpiece and mirror for the first time, meeting patients and performing our first procedures. Everything is exciting and scary, and we are doing our best to absorb as much information as we can. But there is a dark side to puppies, too: There can be chaos, exhaustion and a crippling fear of the unknown. These issues plague every new dental student. But with guidance and support, things can feel a little easier.

These insecurities are still a part of me, and I vividly remember when they began. It was when I held my instrument for the first time and couldn’t get wax on it. I felt it after drilling my first pitiful prep, then looking over at my classmate’s pristine one. I especially felt it after failing my first practical. Each time wounded me, pushing me deeper into a state of hopelessness. It got to the point where every practice session began with a tightness in my chest and was punctuated with tears on a pillow, knowing I had to do it all over again the next day.

Finish reading this article in the October issue of Contour.

~Julian H. Phan, Las Vegas ’22, District 10 Health/Wellness Chair

Julian H. Phan

Julian H. Phan, Las Vegas ’22, is the district 10 health and wellness chair.

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