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Preparation Tips

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In my first 3 years, dental school has been full of stressful situations, cram sessions, surprise quizzes and joyful rewards. I have taken boards, skills assessments, exams, and fulfilled requirements (all with the associated stresses and challenges). This past week my school hosted CITA (counsel of interstate testing agency). It is the organization that administers testing for dental license exams for certain states. Although I am only a D3, I have taken part in this exam in various ways over the past few years. I would like to share some insight into one of the most stressful and challenging events that dental school has to offer.

 

CITA is broken into two parts: the manikin portion and the patient portion. As a D2 last year, I had the opportunity to be a "runner" for the CITA exam, which involves shutting the patients for the patient portion from the grading station back and forth to the testing station. From this, I learned to appreciate patients! They are willing to give up an entire day of their lives to be carted around, poked and prodded, examined and re-examined all while wearing a rubber dam. I also realized that the phrases "time is money" and "preparation is the key to success" could not be more fitting for this exam. There are certain time points you must hit in order to pass the exam. If you do not pass, you must pay to retake the exam. Preparation is what kept everyone on their time points. Those that had read the manual, filled out paperwork in advance, and set-up their operators early were those that hit their time points at ease. 

 

This year, the D4 class at my school took their patient portion. I had the opportunity to be an assistant for a schoolmate. Here, I learned the key to patient selection. Dependable patients that will show up on time, are willing to stay as long as you need them, and are committed to only you for the day are essential. Patients who committed to more than one student, although had the best of intentions, caused a few students to fail due to missing their time points.

 

Also this year, I challenged my own manikin portion of the CITA exam. My advice for this is: 1) read the manual 2) know the manual 3) practice the manual! That proved to be key for me and my classmates this year. Anything you could possible question about the rules, the criteria and the timing of the exam is answered in the manual. I started reading it and memorizing it a few months before the exam and allowed it to guide my practice. I attribute focused and concentrated practice time in the simulation lab to my success on the exam.

 

Best of luck to all the "younger" dental students as you embark on the dental school journey. Whatever challenges and stresses you have, just know that it is part of the ride and that you will get through them.