As a first- and second-year dental student, it’s easy to lose perspective of what dentistry really entails. You get caught up in the intricacies of how to do a crown prep or knowing the anatomy of the floor of the mouth. As the pre-clinical courses came to an end, I found myself constantly scrambling in the simulation lab, as any other second-year dental student can relate. Whether it was to finish countless buildups and crown preps or receive approval on removable work orders for partial dentures, second year was a constant state of chaos. It was in the midst of all this chaos that we started getting our first patient: denture patients.
When I saw that I’d have my first appointment with a patient in less than a month, it dawned on me that the patient presentations we had been doing in the sim lab in front of the instructors would finally become reality. The next time I would ask medical history questions would be to my patient.
Upon transitioning from simulation lab to clinic, we won’t be doing these things just to run in line and get a piece of paper checked off; we will be delivering care to a trusting patient who has taken the time to receive health care from us. While the first two years of dental school involved creating a database of information upon which to base clinical decisions and how to perform clinical procedures, the third year involves applying all the knowledge from previous years, in addition to patient management and professionalism. The third year is about upholding the high standards we’ve learned so far and, to me, it’s more rewarding than the first and second year combined. It is the reason I chose to attend dental school.
It is only in retrospect that I can appreciate how much progress I made and realize how much progress I have yet to make. When I first started doing crown preps my second year, it took me three hours to do one. By the end of the year I was doing a prep with a temporary restoration in half that time. It is an exciting journey where there is still a lot to learn, and I am nervous to experience the challenges that will come with clinic, but also excited to see how I overcome them and progress as a clinician.
~Rajvi Bhagat, Texas A&M ’21