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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Tips for Motivating Patients

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    I recently had a patient present for an initial exam after not having seen a dentist for many years. He is a heavy smoker and drinker who he doesn’t see a physician regularly and does not practice good oral hygiene. As you can probably imagine, his mouth was in rough shape.  As a third year dental student, my armamentarium for what I can do for this patient in the very immediate future is limited. If you gave me a few months, I could restore the decayed teeth, extract the hopeless ones, and possibly fabricate an RPD. But what if I didn’t have a few months? What if this patient all of a sudden decided mid-treatment plan that getting dental work done was no longer a priority and didn’t return to the dental clinic? 


            As dental students, we are so often focused on requirements and improving our hand-skills. What we sometimes fail to realize is that our listening skills and our ability to communicate are equally as important as how well we can prep a Class I. When a patient like this presents to the dental clinic, the best thing we can do for them in the long term is to educate and motivate them to make changes that will have long lasting impacts on their oral health. 


So how do we motivate our patients?  


    This is a question to which there is no simple answer, but there are steps that you can take to learn more about the patient and their goals. Here are some tips to help you motivate your patients: 


   Express Empathy: It may seem difficult to relate to some of your patients. It can be very easy to make snap judgments based on appearances or interactions. It is important to put yourself in the patient’s shoes and develop a common ground. If a patient feels uncomfortable around you or thinks that you are judging them, they will be less likely to make any changes you suggest to them. You and the patient must have a shared vision in order to take any steps forward. 


    Ask Open-Ended Questions: This allows you to understand the patient’s point of view because you are giving them the opportunity to explain themselves fully. It also opens the door to a meaningful conversation between you and the patient. For example, when reviewing a patient’s dental history, the question “do you brush your teeth everyday” may yield a very different response than “Can you tell me about your home care?” Giving the patient the opportunity to give their answer based on their own knowledge and feelings can give you a lot of information that can be useful towards working together to achieve a common goal. 


    Use Visual Aids: People learn in all different ways; some are auditory, some more visual. When trying to motivate patients to make a change, it can be very helpful to use visual aids that can help you to get your point across clearly and efficiently. For example, in clinic when we are trying to explain to patients the effect their diet has on their teeth, we draw out Stephen’s Curve. This allows the patient to process the information and understand how it applies directly to them.  This personal connection may help to inspire a change in the patient’s behavior. 


    Encouraging Baby Steps: When a patient presents with a history similar to the one described earlier, it would be a mistake to point out everything they are doing incorrectly. By attempting to tell the patient how to “fix” their behavior, you will really be causing the patient to take a step back instead of forward. Thus it is important to encourage the patient to take baby steps and make suggestions instead of demands. It is also important to discover why the patient thinks they are (or are not) capable of making this change.  If a patient thinks they are unable to make a change, finding out the reason will allow you to work together to overcome it.  



    Motivating patients to make healthy lifestyle changes can be difficult and sometimes making what may seem like a small change to you may seem overwhelming to the patient. Throughout your time with the patient, it is important to encourage their progress, and understand and work through the failures. The dental provider and their patient must become a team in order to overcome obstacles, regardless of whether that obstacle is brushing your teeth twice a day or deciding the best treatment plan. 

Giving Back

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My second year of dental school had finally ended with an exhausting and sleep-depriving finals schedule. I had 8 days of freedom to make up for it, before volunteering for Operation East Texas, then diving into 6 weeks of summer clinic as a D3. I would get another hard earned 4 weeks of vacation on the tail end of summer, but had to make the best of this first taste of summer break.



The first weekend off, I had a camping trip planned with a few close friends. We road tripped out to Lake Amistad in Del Rio, TX to bass fish, rock climb, and enjoy the great outdoors. Honestly, anything but dentistry and pathology would have been vacation for me. Following that weekend trip, I headed home for a week of relaxing, fishing, and good eating with family and dental school friends at South Padre Island. I had to cram as much as I could into those 8 days, because I would soon be back in Dallas and packing my bags for the weeklong community outreach clinic.


Operation East Texas was organized by the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide free dental care to the greater community of Van, TX. A few classmates and I volunteered the latter half of our summer vacation to work at this event. It was the first time we could fully utilize our dental education for those in need, which was a passion we all shared. For 5 straight days, we restored or extracted decayed teeth in the gymnasium of Van Junior High School.  We had to improvise at times with the limited supplies that were donated. We learned new things about dentistry that we would not experience in a dental school setting.


After the long and full days, we unwound with football, soccer, basketball or kickball, all under a beautiful Texas sunset. We were not allowed to leave the campus due to liability issues with the state, so we made the best of our free time. I still laugh remembering the late night games of catch phrase, or watching the cramp ridden Lebron James get carried off court against the Spurs in the NBA Finals. After light outs, sleep was needed by all. We had cots set up all over the floor of another gymnasium, and it did not take long to figure who snored in our group of 40!


As the week progressed and we grew more and more exhausted, the cots were surprisingly more and more comfortable. New days started at 6am as everyone pulled sleeping bags over their eyes to hide from the gymnasium lights. Those who braved the cold locker-room showers were the widest awake. The rest of us woke up more gradually to a hot breakfast and cup of coffee. What gave us the biggest drive, however, was seeing the lines that had already starting forming before we even woke up.


The people who came to this event desperately needed relief from pain. They wanted to smile without hiding their teeth.  Being able to bring happiness back to these folks, or allow them to get a full night’s rest without waking up in pain was what brought us there. We could have been catching up with our families, friends, wives, or children. Instead, we devoted our time to help others, and that is where we wanted to be. It is a blessing to have so many colleagues who share the same passion for service. I made new friends on that trip, and grew closer to others. We were privileged to have the organizers, the donators, and the marketers who set up Operation East Texas. 

After 6 weeks of summer clinic ended, the majority of us from Operation East Texas flew down to the Rio Grande Valley to take part in an even bigger event, Operation Lone Star. We provided dental care to the upper and lower Rio Grande Valley, while "camping out" in Palm View High School. We had close to 25 chairs, which were constantly filled with people who desperately needed treatment. The lines for this event began queuing at midnight, close to 8 hours before doors opened. 

Overall, it was a fantastic summer. Putting forth our newly acquired knowledge to treat the sick was the first thing we had wanted to do, and we were fortunate to be given these opportunities to do so. I hope to do it all over again next year.


Applying for Dental Residency

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 It is the beginning of another school year and it is that time again: the time of applications and the time of interviews. But unlike the application process many of us underwent four years ago, these do not require us to prove our potential as future dental students. Instead, we are already considered doctors, already considered to be knowledgeable and competent with a hand piece. In these applications, we are on a quest to find our future home as a possible dental resident. While applying to General Practice Residencies and Advanced Education in General Dentistry programs, I have found the application process to be pretty confusing and definitely overwhelming. There are so many programs to choose from and so many different things each program has to offer. When choosing a program, I believe it’s best to focus on two things: location and the current residents. Location is more important than one would think! It is important to look for a place which would be a good fit for a year, one which would not be boring or uncomfortable. The current residents are a great source of information as well. How they interact with each other and how they fit into the program can portray a lot about the residency. They can also be very honest about the program and are able to give more relevant feedback. 


After choosing programs, the next step would be the interview process. It can certainly be nerve wracking but it should also be a rewarding experience. The interview is meant for you to get a sense of the program as well as for the program directors to get an idea of you are. They are able to read all of your amazing dental accomplishments form your resume and personal statement but they don’t know what your personality is like and whether you are engaging as a person and future resident. It is important that during the interview, the program director and faculty are able to understand what you would like to gain from a residency and if you would work well with their staff and residents. Being honest and genuine is the best way to really make the most of your interview experience.

 It is important to note that finding the right fit is crucial. This application process isn’t about getting into just any program. It is about making sure you are accepted into one that fits your needs and wants as a dental resident. 

Stress in Dental School: Why is it stressful and how do you cope?

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Stress in Dental School: Why is it stressful and how do you cope?

Emma J Guzmán, Class of 2017 University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine


Dentistry requires a working knowledge of medicine, physics, materials, and artistry — all with great attention to detail. This is stressful” -Dr. Michael Kesner


As a second year dental student, I know stress; core science courses, a ton of lab work, your 1st patient and trying to have a life. Dentistry is a high risk and high stress career and this starts in our training for the profession. Dental school is extremely stressful and surviving it depends on how one manages that stress. I will discuss what makes dental school stressful, how to deal with that stress and what can be added to our daily lives that would make it more manageable.

Dental students go through a daily “hazing” to ultimately cross the stage at the end of 4th year and have the letter D.D.S. or D.M.D. at the end of our names. We are students, laboratory technicians and clinicians. We must stay on top of our sciences courses while learning how to make removable, fixed and direct restorations as well as having rotations in the clinic 1-2 times a week. Every curriculum is different but regardless of what school one goes to the busy work is present. 

Stress describes external demands on an individual’s physical and psychological well-being. The stressors in dental school include a high volume of work, managing patients, lab work and a highly technical and intensive nature of work in a small space.  This stress can lead to anxiety, depression, substance misuse and all of this ultimately diminished work efficacy. Resolving stressful habits now is essential to being able to resolving these issues when one is a practicing dentist. Statistics show that dentists have more emotional illness, cardiovascular and hypertensive issues than the general population. But there is a solution to this, do what you enjoy, manage your work, know when to stop and realize that dental school is only four years out of the rest of your life.

I interviewed my colleagues to determine what they found stressful and how they managed it. Throughout all four years, the response to the question “What is the most stressful part of dental school?” was time management, balancing studying and adjusting to the workload. The high volume of work is the most intensive part of dental school in my opinion because unlike other professions where you are in class for a few hours a day for a few days out of the week; dental school is a full time job, we are in class from at least 9am-5pm, five days a week.  When I asked the question “How do you cope with this stress?” the responses ranged from working out, hanging out outside of school, keeping an agenda of activities you want to do and finding time to relax. So when it comes to what causes stress and what “cures” it, it all comes down to time management. If you have a calendar with your exams and lab work on it, add your workout schedule, add a few hours to relax or fun activities over the weekend. Keeping a healthy lifestyle by doing things you enjoy will make school more manageable. You must truly commit to doing at least one weekly activity that has nothing to do with school, even if it’s just watching your favorite TV show. The last question I asked was “What would improve quality of life while in dental school?” and responses ranged from having time to get a dog to being able to visit home more frequently.

What I took from interviewing my peers was that everyone needs something different to remain happy and when you find what it is, make time for it. Include happiness in your life because the rigor of dental school will drain it out of you. Know yourself, know what you are capable of, remember why you want to be a dentist, join clubs and do not compare yourself to others because everyone may be in the same school/field but everyone in going through their own individual experience. Dental school is a love hate relationship but the end goal is worth a few gray hairs!


Interview Responses

Name, year & hometown: Emma Guzman 2nd year. Brooklyn, NY

What is the most stressful part of dental school? Finding time to study when lab work makes me constantly tired. How do you coupe with stress? I go to dance classes, cook almost every day, workout and watch at least 1 TV show a day. What would you add to your schedule to make school more manageable? Getting a dog

 Trevor Klein 1st Year

My hometown is Binghamton, NY. The most stressful part of dental school so far is balancing my study time, sometimes I feel like I put all my time into gross and neglect other classes. I cope with stress by being active; lifting, playing basketball, or anything like that. If I could add something to my schedule it would be one more break during the day besides lunch, it's tough being in class for the whole day non-stop

 Sumaya Ibreheem 1st Year

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Stressful Part: Getting used to the workload and figuring out how to study all the material since it's not so much difficult as it is just a large volume. Coping with stress: Meeting with classmates to hang out in a non-school setting. Adding: I wish I could remove things from my schedule! It would be easier to manage if I wasn't in school almost 40hrs/week.

 Arielle Faden 3rd Year

Home town: Syosset, NY (long island), most stressful part of school is time management... trying to figure out how to do everything in school and outside of school and make some time for myself. What I do - My agenda book is my sidekick - I write in everything from exams and meetings to workout classes that I want to go to. It helps me to make sure ill have enough time to do all the things I want to. I wish I could add a dog to my schedule ha-ha just kidding (kind of) but I would add more visits home - it is always nice to go home to see family and friends and always is a great way for me to reset and put everything here at school into perspective.

 Michelle Lee, 4th Year at University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

Hometown: Manhattan, NY

What is the most stressful part of dental school?

In retrospect, every year presented a different kind of challenge for me, and if you ask any dental student at Buffalo, they’ll agree that every time we got the hang of each of those individual stresses, a new year began, and we had to start all over and figure out how to overcome something new. First and second year were most difficult for me because I had to stay still to absorb bountiful of knowledge. I had difficulty transitioning into studying for many classes all at once. Writing outlines, which I had done at my previous academic institutions for my routine studies, were no longer an option due to time constraints. There was very little time to figure out a pristine method of studying in the middle of adapting to a relatively intense schedule. But fortunately, things looked up during my third year when I was able to unglue myself from my work chair and interact with patients and more people at school.

How do you coupe with stress? What do you wish you could add to your schedule to make life more enjoyable during dental school?

This is a fairly fun question to answer because of the long list of answers I could provide! But if I had to pick my all time favorite stress-relieving activities during dental school, they’d be catching meals with my classmates after school, jogging, listening to music, dancing, and watching the Ellen Show. You can ask my class president, Tricia Swanson, who knows me as one of the most easily amused people ever to exist. So when I get a chance to laugh, all my cortisol levels drop and the world is a big fat serene oyster again.

In my imaginary world of dental school, I’ve always dreamt of having a specific room for dental students to go into to just relax – a tranquility room, if you will. It’d be so nice if this room also provided us with an hour a day with a professional yoga instructor to help our bodies stay flexible. Dentistry can be such a sport sometimes, especially when we have to run around the building all the time to grab instruments and consultations. Second year practicals also took tolls on our backs when we had to learn how to drill indirectly.

Annie Adamson

Hometown: Cadillac, MI

Most stressful part: Endless to-do lists...No matter how much work you do, it keeps piling on.  There are no real breaks in dental school. How to cope with stress: Exercising on a regular basis it’s a good outlet for me...as well as spending quality relaxation time with friends and family.  And, of course, good food.

What do I will I go add to my dental school 

What is a Hatchet? A Guide to Your Hand Tools for Caries Restoration

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What is a Hatchet? A Guide to Your Hand Tools for Caries Restoration

By Jessica Li


Remember that big box of tools you received during Orientation Week? If you were anything like me, you probably felt a mixture of confusion, distress, and befuddlement by the high volume of instruments that were being distributed. Below are some tips on how to distinguish your instruments from one another. My secret tip? Mark your instruments with colored tape so you can easily pick them out amongst their (seemingly) identical friends.



Drills come in two flavors called the High Speed and the Low Speed. They will quickly help you achieve the outline form of your cavity prep.

The High Speed is used make the outline of your access form, quickly and cleanly. It is also equipped with a water coolant, which ejects a stream of water while you drill. The purpose of the water is to prevent frictional heat on the tooth, which could lead to problems with the pulp in a real patient. In your typodonts, the water will help mask the smell of burning plastic as you drill into fake teeth. A 1556 bur or a 330 bur is ideal for your high speed needs.

The slow speed helps to smooth the walls and/or floor of your prep and to remove the carious decay. Common burs to use with a low speed drill are the ½ round burs and the ¼ round burs.


Hand instruments are used to shape and clean up your access before filling the cavity with amalgam or composite. Hand tools are named in a specific array of numbers.

A hatchet is a double-ended hand tool where one end cuts the facial surface and the other end cuts the lingual surface. The longer and sharper end of the hatch will always lie parallel and next to the surface of the tooth you want to cut. There are two sets of hatchets – one for the mesial proximal box (i.e.13-83-9-15) and one for the distal proximal box (i.e 13-95-8-14). Apply a controlled, pushing motion on the blade to help it cut into the surface of the tooth you want to remove.


The hoe is used for planning the tooth and forming line angles. The hoe has 2 motions – push and pull. Both methods will enable you to create smooth, flat surfaces. I also like to use the hoe when cleaning the walls of the proximal box by position the hoe such that the longer part of the blade is against the surface you want to make smooth.  

Developing Your Success Strategy

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Among the countless paths that dentistry has to offer, it is easy to become disoriented. The future of dentistry is bright, yet interlaced with patches of uncertainty. Lingering in the back of each student’s mind are questions such as: 

  • “How will I really pay back all of these loans?” 
  •   “What kind of job should I look for right out of school?”
  •   “Which avenue of dentistry will bring me the greatest fulfillment?” 

Many students look for answers, yet do not know where to find them. Once graduation approaches, confusion leads to fear and then fear leads to panic. As we seek to develop our own success strategy, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help along the way?


At Midwestern University, I have been involved as our ASDA Path to Practice Representative. Many of my efforts have been devoted to helping students find answers, and thus feel more prepared to enter a career. Together with other ASDA members, we identified that our school would benefit greatly from a website dedicated to career planning and development.


I quickly began to learn web design through a user-friendly application known as Google Sites. This enabled me to build an online resource library, complete with helpful documents and links. While similar to online forums such as THE NEXTDDS, our website is built collaboratively by students who upload things that they have found helpful. Newer students can correspond with upperclassmen for valuable tips and insights. Dental school doesn’t have to be all about tearing each other down—forget about your class rank. Look for ways within your school to build a constructive community and to help each other along.


One of the most effective ways to develop dental business sense is through shadowing those who are already in practice. Our program recently established a shadowing network with Pacific Dental Services and Aspen Dental, giving students access to over 50 locations statewide. Our new website has already proven to be an effective tool in marketing for and coordinating these opportunities.


Success in dentistry is not entirely based on what you know, but also by who you know. We work closely with our state dental association to host an annual Holiday Happy Hour event with local dentists. This event serves our students twofold—to network for future job opportunities, as well as to develop conversation skills with dentists in a social setting. Interactions like these are fundamental to building a successful career and should be sought after.


Take advantage of the resources that are available to you and share them with others. Graduation will come sooner than you think. Start today by setting goals, working hard, and moving forward. What will be your success strategy?


The Sim Clin

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Can you imagine a dental school sim lab, where the simulators have eyes? How about a tongue? Did I mention saliva? How about a head that moves, and a mouth that closes? This would no doubt be a dental student’s worst nightmare. While attempting to master occlusal reduction on a crown prep, or achieving perfect 90 degree exit angles, the last thing you want is for your “well-behaved” manikin to move. In this new state-of-the-art simulation clinic, the first year students at Pacific Dugoni will get the closest thing possible to a real life experience in dentistry.

            University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni’s School of Dentistry has partnered with an engineering company on a joint patent for these new simulators. The idea is to start the students off with some of the basics, and then slowly acclimatize them to the real “environment” of a human mouth – saliva and all.

            Classes in the new school began in July of 2014 in the brand new, $155 million facility in the up and coming South of Market (SoMA) neighborhood of San Francisco. The school’s new “Sim Clin”, as it will be known, is nearly three times the size of the “Sim Lab” at the old school. Each first year student will have his/her own simulator station, equipped with the same machinery used in the patient clinics. As part of this, the school will also be transitioning to the use of electric handpieces, instead of the traditional air-driven technology. The electric handpieces have many more user settings for various dental procedures.

The Sim Clin is also set up in such a way as to allow for small group instruction. Following the group practice model used in the patient clinics, the Sim Clin is divided into eight groups. During class time each day, each group will have two or more instructors to assist them in their learning. There is also a demonstration manikin in each group, equipped with a camera. The image the camera captures can then be displayed live at each student’s station, with the instructor’s voice overhead.

            Each computer at the Sim Clin workstations also has all of the functional components and software that students will use in the patient clinics. This is of great benefit, as it will allow the students to become competent in the maze of Axium – the electronic health record software used at University of the Pacific.

            This is not all – the basic components of a wet lab are built in to the Sim Clin. This includes stone grinders, vibrators, and more! Just outside resides the Sim Clin dispensary. Again, patterned after the patient clinics where supplies are dispensed, students come to the dispensary to purchase typodont teeth, burs, etc…

            All in all, the Sim Clin is somewhat overwhelming upon entry. However, it has surely set the bar high for dental education – especially in the preclinical realm. It fits in perfectly with the school’s motto, which encompasses clinical excellence.

For pictures of the new school visit http://dental.pacific.edu/Future_School_Facility.html

Mentoring: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

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As dental students, we all at some point get lost in the world of lectures and grades, living with our nose buried in science books, filling our calendar with studying, and only surviving from one exam to the next.  Sometimes we forget why we are in school and lose sight of the whole reason for working so hard.  Mentor relationships refresh our passion for dentistry by showing us that there is, in fact, light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel.  Working with a dentist mentor from the local community helps guide and motivate mentees in their journey into dentistry by allowing them to explore career possibilities (including potential specialties), and exposing them to the field of organized dentistry.  Becka Azeff, a third year student at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry stated, “Through the LASDA (Louisville American Student Dental Association) mentor program, I didn’t gain one mentor, but actually four.  My mentor introduced me to other dentists, opening up opportunities to get insight from multiple specialties.”  Through these programs, students receive guidance, counsel, and knowledge.  Austin Carey, a fourth year at Louisville, always loves getting words of wisdom from his mentor including this quote, “There's a reason why they call it the practice of dentistry, nothing is perfect.”  Students learn about aspects of dentistry that are not necessarily taught thoroughly in dental school, including business management, relationships with employees, and debt payments.  Mentees are challenged as they observe dental offices behind-the-scenes and learn from real life scenarios, translating to future clinical success.

One of the most important aspects of the field of dentistry is lifelong learning.  Mentor programs help facilitate this through the reciprocal sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and expertise.  Not only is the student gaining valuable experiences and learning about the field, but the dentist also learns by gaining fresh, youthful, and technology-driven perspectives.  Dr. Gay Baughman, dentist and professor at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry stresses the importance of mentoring as it allows us to “share our talents and gifts.”  She states, “I grow as much or more than the person I am mentoring.”  Students and dentists are able to bounce ideas off each other and problem solve as a team through their different opinions and views on cases.  Dr. Keith Ray, a pediatric dentist in Louisville, Kentucky, reflected on his mentoring experiences saying, “Often we forget; we're ‘living the dream’. The benefit as a mentor is like receiving a shot of adrenaline.”  Additionally, many dentists are looking for partnerships or possibly dentists interested in taking over their practice when they get ready to retire-- this relationship has the potential to accomplish this.  Lastly, it allows mentors to give back to the profession and pass on their legacy, so to say. 


Mentor relationships may be created by dental schools or professional organizations, or may even be the result of an unintentional connection or a relationship that develops out of shared interests.  Whatever the method, through this relationship both parties expand their network tremendously, creating connections with many other members of the dental community, including students, dentists, dental assistants, lab technicians, suppliers, etc.  Dr. Amy Farnsworth, an orthodontist in Louisville, stated from her experiences with mentor programs as both the mentee and mentor that she believes the “most critical aspect of a successful mentor/mentee relationship is that it be mutually desirable and beneficial to both parties.”  Overall, mentor programs build lasting relationships among future colleagues, and enhance success in both individuals through shared wisdom, education, and experiences.  Mentors are more than role models to their mentees—they are friends, counselors, and future colleagues. The integration of the dentists of tomorrow with the dental community increases the strength of organized dentistry and all of our future success.


Looking Towards Post-Grad Education

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Applying to GPRs/AEGDs during dental school can be a trying and tedious process. My hope is that by the end of this article you would have gained additional knowledge in charting your path into a successful GPR/AEGD application. First let’s begin with the question, what is PASS? PASS is a post-grad application clearinghouse service run by the ADEA. PASS deals with submitting applications to programs while MATCH deals with matching an applicant to a program. Most programs use PASS and MATCH, but some use only one or neither. PASS and MATCH serve very different purposes, but you need to become familiar with both as you determine which programs to apply to. Some specialty programs require additional examinations be taken by its applicants. For example, many orthodontic programs require the GRE, while many oral surgery programs require the USLME Step-1. Keep in mind certain programs want to see a certain minimum score to consider an applicant competitive; in the above examples a GRE above 1000 or a Step-1 score ~220 respectively. The next thing to consider when applying is GPA/Class Rank. The two go hand-in-hand; a GPA alone says 

nothing without your class rank. A GPA of a 3.8 with a class rank in the top 50% is just as good as a 3.4 GPA with a class rank in the top 30%, so both go hand-in-hand. GPA/Class rank and passing of the NDBE Part I and II (preferably on the first try) are the most important items on your application because they will allow you to progress to secondary applications or to interviews. Below are a few Q/A’s of the PASS/MATCH application that I thought were very insightful:

Q: The deadline on PASS is the hard deadline for them to have all the required materials - they guarantee that they'll get your stuff to the programs by the program's deadline date as long as they have it. 

A: True, it takes 1-2 weeks to get it processed and to the program. Late info may have to be mailed directly to the program, or might not be accepted.

Q: What are PPI’s and when do I submit my ETS PPI evaluation?

A: Personal potential index, PPI, is a web-based system for evaluating the personal attributes of applicants. It is composed of evaluations that measure applicants on six personal attributes. The evaluation is held by ETS and sent to ADEA PASS. Evaluators provide ratings for each question and an overall evaluation. In addition, evaluators are strongly encouraged to add comments for each dimension and for the overall evaluation. The best time to submit the report is after all evaluators have completed their evaluation, because the report cannot be updated and only sent once by ETS to ADEA PASS.

Q: Can I customize my ADEA PASS Application, how can I submit one?

A: A custom application is one that tailors applicants to designate different essays and forms to different programs, which is useful for a divergent individual stuck on whether to specialize or not to specialize.

Service Learning as a Dental Student

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“I can’t begin to explain how much this means to me,” the gentleman before me exclaimed, firmly shaking my hand as I introduced myself. He was my first patient at the free clinic, and this was my first experience with service learning. The clinic consisted of five operatories in a small house which had been renovated to meet the needs of a dental office. It contained dental materials and equipment, as well as assistants and trained dental staff. Although it was late in the evening, this gentleman had been waiting all day to have his teeth taken care of. I was certainly unfamiliar with the environment and utensils available to me, but I was eager to use the skills I had developed over the last three years of dental school. With the help of my assistant and the wonderful staff at the clinic, I was able to relieve 

this man and many other patients of pain that night. 

Service learning is a wonderful tool provided by many different dental schools as part of their curriculum. It allows students to develop their skills as they provide oral healthcare to disadvantaged individuals in many different populations. My classmates and I at VCU School of Dentistry are able to travel to unique areas throughout Virginia and experience dentistry in a unique fashion as we work to make a difference in so many communities. We are also able to foster a sense of camaraderie among each other while we support and work together on many of these trips. Oftentimes, these clinics are located a great distance from the dental school, so we are required to stay overnight at provided facilities. I have been able to develop a bond with many of my classmates while staying and working at these sites. These experiences have enriched my dental school career in ways I could never have imagined. 

Since that immensely rewarding night at my first service learning clinic, I have been able to 

participate in other service learning opportunities through VCU. I have traveled throughout Virginia to work at many diverse free clinics. The types of patients we treat vary from simple cases to those who are severely medically compromised. Yet no matter how difficult or easy the case, the results have always been satisfying. My classmates and I are also able to interact with some amazing dentists who oversee the treatment we provide and give us feedback on techniques and methods. These healthcare providers donate their valuable time to help the students as well as the patients. Through my exposure to service learning, I have learned how dentistry can adapt to different situations and environments. No matter what tools or equipment may be available, the quality of dental care lies solely within the skills and resourcefulness of the dentist. These skills are often developed and put to the test on these trips. I hope to continue to participate in service learning even after dental school as I find the rewards immeasurable and the patients incredibly grateful.