Have you ever wondered what life is like for a second year dental student? Every school, and every student, will have a slightly different experience. I wanted to share what my life was like as a D2 at UAB School of Dentistry.
At UAB, the first two years of dental school are spent hitting the books, listening to hours of lecture and drilling on plastic teeth in the pre-clinical laboratory. While the first year is more heavily focused on learning all the biomedical sciences, year two is all about getting prepared for clinic. As someone who recently completed their second year of dental school, I feel excited and ready to dive into treating real live patients but there is no way I could have made it to this point without the training I received this past year.
For me, my day as a second year dental student starts an hour before I have to leave my apartment. I have time to make my lunch, eat my breakfast and drink my coffee. That last part is essential! We have very long days full of lectures and studying so it is important to start your day off right. After drinking every last drop of coffee, it’s time to head to school.
Usually in the morning D2s would start with a biomedical science class, which is held in Volker Hall, a medical school building located a few blocks down from the school of dentistry building. At UAB, these classes are split up into the different systems of the body such as cardiology, respiratory, endocrine and so on. Lectures last anywhere from two hours to four hours at a time. Yes, that’s four hours of straight listening.
Mixed in with the science classes are our dental school classes. As D2s, we start learning more about the different dental specialties such as prosthodontics, orthodontics and pediatrics. The morning may have an hour or two of one of these depending on what else we have that day. These classes are all didactic classes, mostly lecture based with two or three exams as the main form of evaluation.
Lunch is at noon sharp every single day! I always use this time to refresh and recharge before my afternoon classes. Some students use it to grab a quick bite and get a head start on studying. It is also a great time to run to get a coffee before the afternoon starts.
After lunch, it’s time to hit the sim lab! At UAB, we call it Pre-Clinical Dentistry or PCD for short. The D2 year is mostly focused on prosthodontic procedures, both fixed and removable. We started the year off learning about crown preps and all the necessary lab work that goes into making a crown. We are scheduled to have four hours in PCD four days a week. The time of day can vary, but no matter what, if you are a D2 in PCD you are working very hard in order to get all your work done. If I left the school without a trace of mounting stone or alginate on my scrubs, I knew I did not work that hard that day.
If you are fortunate to complete your daily assignments for PCD before five then it is time for you to go home. Of course, this was not always the case for me, as things do not always go one’s way in PCD. Dropping casts, re-doing impressions and re-making temporaries are just a few things that may extend your time up on the fifth floor in the lab.
At the end of the day, it’s time to go home and eat dinner. After dinner, I am able to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work. WRONG! This is not a job, this is dental school! Therefore, I have the greatest pleasure of cramming for an exam I have the next day. No, the long nights of studying do not end after the first year.
It especially did not end for me as I had to prepare to take Part I of the National Board Exam in December. If I felt up to speed on all my other classes, I would then take a few minutes each day to go over old material that I knew would be on boards. The most important thing you have to do as a dental student is stay organized. If you can accomplish this, dental school becomes a lot more doable!
Finally, it is time to go to bed. It is not long before the alarm clock goes off and I have to wake up and do it all over again.
Dental school has been a crazy ride so far. Being a second year dental student was filled with so many highs and lows, new friendships, and new knowledge. I had the chance to learn what makes our bodies tick and to improve my hand skills and dental knowledge. I had countless opportunities to rotate through all the different specialty clinics at our school and start to learn how to interact with patients. All this and more was great preparation for what I ultimately came here to do: treat patients.
It will not be long before I will be writing about my first patient appointment. See you later D2 year, D3 here I come!