This summer after my first year of dental school, I had the opportunity to intern at Bridging the Gaps, a community-based summer internship where health care students work with underserved communities in Philadelphia and gain insight into factors that affect health.
The incessant need to plan dominates nearly every aspect of our lives, dictating the choices we make and how we react to obstacles. It is easy to feel depleted by the bombardment of exams and courses, and we may even start to question whether it is feasible to continue working toward our goal.
Before entering dental school, I worked as a registered dietitian. My life centered around health and wellness. I woke up at 5:15 a.m. every weekday to go to the gym. I meal-prepped every weekend. I spent a lot of my free time researching new health products, while also coming up with new ways to make traditional comfort foods healthier. My life focused on being healthy and learning new ways to help my patients eat better.
While the fight for equal rights for LGBTQ individuals has made significant strides in the past decade — from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the legalization of same-sex marriage — barriers within this community still exist, such as fear of ignorance, discrimination or mistreatment, especially with regard to health care.
Dozens of dental students served at the sixth annual Mission of Mercy in Reading, Pennsylvania (MOM-n-PA). The Santander Arena, normally full of screaming sports fans or concert goers, was transformed into a free dental clinic for those in need. There were 1,900 patients seen May 18-19.
For dental students, science has never been subjective. We sit through semesters of organic chemistry and anatomy in college, spending long nights trying to understand the path to the right answer (because there’s always a right answer) to the complex problems our professors throw at us. We are well-tuned machines of memorization and comprehension.
Imagine it is 2 a.m., and you are cramming for your pharmacology exam. You flip through the hundreds of flashcards you created to memorize the properties of the medications and corresponding treatment protocol. You come across analgesics, specifically opioids, and remember they are used to alleviate pain. In school, we learn about the properties and proper dosages of the drugs we will one day prescribe, as well as how to address potential concerns of usage with our patients, but in order to enhance our own patient care mentality, we should reframe how we think about pain management overall.