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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

Dental Specialties

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Recently at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, we had a panel of guest speakers come to talk to us about the different specialty options out there that we can pursue after we graduate. Currently, there are nine recognized dental specialties, including dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, oral and maxillofacial radiology, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Each guest represented a different specialty, and they each gave us the pros and cons of going into one specialty or another. The lecture was very interesting. I’ve always been open to the idea of specializing, but I never really took into account all of the different aspects of it! Some factors that I would want to take into consideration before choosing to pursue a specialty is location…are there programs in my specialty of interest in the state/area that I want to be in? You can find out where certain programs are by going to this link: http://www.ada.org/en/coda/find-a-program/search-dental-programs#t=us&sort=%40codastatecitysort%20ascending. Also, I would want to consider whether the program charges tuition or pays a stipend. I find it odd that some choose to have the student pay whereas others pay the student, but considering the amount of debt I will be in after dental school, getting paid a stipend, even if it is far less than my expected salary, would be great! Also, and most importantly, if I were to specialize, I would want to make sure that that specialty is something I am truly interested in. Since I am still a second-year dental student, I haven’t been exposed to all of the specialties yet. And even when I am exposed to those specialties during my third-year clerkships, I do not think that will be enough time for me to truly decide whether a certain specialty is right for me. I would advise dental students to volunteer in a specialty clinic that they are interested in during their free times and breaks from school or to take an elective course in that specialty if available. There are a lot of options to choose from when deciding what to do after graduation. I look forward to exploring these specialties further and hopefully finding my niche!

Reflection on the First Two Years of Dental School

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Last week we had our white coat fitting for our upcoming ceremony in June. As I stood in line with my classmates preparing to try on my coat and deciding how I wanted my name to appear on it (to include my middle name or not to include my middle name), I began to reflect on my last two years in dental school. It seems like just yesterday when I received my acceptance letter and made the biggest decision of my life to move half-way across the country, away from all my friends and family, to attend the University of Washington School of Dentistry. In that time, I have been through a lot…Countless long lectures in freezing cold classrooms, waxing, drilling my first tooth (and then many, many more), studying for the NBDE I, passing the NBDE I, long nights in the lab working on Fixed Prosth projects, working on my very first patient, and much more. I remember so many times doubting myself and wondering whether this is really the right profession for me. I remember doubting my abilities when I became frustrated in lab. However, I also look back and remember how terrible my first wax up was and how sloppy my first composite insertion was. Now, I can proudly say that with each challenge I may have experienced along my dental school journey, I have overcome each of them and have even surprised myself along the way. Every student in dental school experiences challenges, but with time and constant practice (even if it does mean staying in lab after class and on the weekends), those challenges will become easy things that you can do quickly and easily every day. They may even start becoming fun!! I always feel a little intimidated starting a new class or doing a new procedure for the first time, but in these last two years, I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill that I didn’t have walking in. With the end of second year in sight and our white coat ceremony in just a few months, I am very excited to put all of my hard work to good use and treating actual patients! I know that there will be more challenges as I transition into the clinic, but I hope to learn a lot in my last half of dental school and to move on to private practice as a competent and confident dentist.