Extracurricular learning can give students an edge. I started dental school in 2013. Classes started at 8:30 a.m. sharp and continued until 4:00 p.m. I was pretty excited with class work, but unfortunately, my curriculum didn’t have any patient interaction in the first year. I decided to go in search of a medical & dental clinic where I could observe. At first, I had trouble finding the right fit, since I was just a freshman in dental school and still had a long way to go to complete my studies. Then I found a hospital that allowed me to observe in the general, emergency and surgery departments. I went to the hospital for four hours every day after school. I would study late into the evening. My day typically began at 5:30 a.m. and went until 12:00 or 1:00 a.m. It was very hectic, but the learning opportunities I found were amazing.
I spent time observing throughout my first two years of dental school. Often I would simply observe, but sometimes I was able to assist the residents in various departments. After taking my exams in my second year, I moved into the dental department in the hospital. My school’s curriculum allowed third-year students to work on patients under the supervision of senior faculty.
The experience was tremendously valuable to me. When you join a private practice, even as a student observer, you are able to:
- Apply theoretical concepts to practice
- Learn how to interact with and manage patients
- Tackle common problems faced in practice
- Work with experienced doctors who enjoy working with students
- Establish relationships with clinicians and future colleagues
It has been very difficult to stay on top of my studies as well as working clinically. But to achieve something you have never achieved before, you have to work harder than you have ever worked before. Knowledge is a powerful tool, so try to get the most out of your education. Be open minded but not over confident. There’s always something more to learn!
~ Arjun Chadha, PDM Dental College and Research Institute (India) ’18, predental member