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Green Giants - My D1 Experience

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Amidst the shuffle of exams, papers, and challenges that come paired with the joys of completing an undergraduate degree, pre-dental students somehow manage to set aside time to study for DATs, complete applications, volunteer, and explore the field by shadowing our dental school predecessors. Days before I was finally relieved of stressful DAT studies, a dentist that I was shadowing told me that after high school, we spend years fighting to get into school, but once we get in, we spend years fighting to get out.

I laughed, thinking only of my impending DAT, but the veracity of that statement only registered for me after completing my first year at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine. Just one year ago, 126 students in matching, hunter green scrubs poured into a massive auditorium, greeting their new classmates and sharing stories they heard about dental schools around the country. The D2 class prepared us for the horrors and triumphs along the way in our first year. One professor said, “The amount of information they expect you to absorb in D1 is like setting a student down in front of a fire hydrant and expecting them to swallow every drop of water.”

At first, it seemed impossible. Two exams every week, practicals, assignments; there was so much to accomplish. But as we struggled together, the D1 class became unified. We formed study groups, practiced waxups, block and carves, preps, and restorations together in the simulation lab during our spare time, and learned to help one another when someone was in need. Before we knew it, practicing for practicals became a social experience, where D1s forgot about pre-practical jitters and shared tips on everything from the best method to start a waxup, to fixing ergonomics for back pain prevention after countless hours of practice in the simulation lab.

Ahead of a successful career in dentistry, various organizations, including clubs and fraternities, offer tutorials and involvement opportunities for students to participate in university events, volunteer, and excel as scholars. Extracurricular activities also enhanced the class dynamic, which allowed us to function more like a family, and develop a friendly environment to ameliorate the heavy D1 course load. Students around the country attribute much of their academic successes to the friends that they make in dental school. It may take some time to establish a good study group, or find that perfect study spot, but with a solid group, all students learn to juggle D1 responsibilities.

Although the D1 curriculum can seem overwhelming at times, it proved to be a lot more manageable with the comfort and reassurance of friends and classmates. Today, I look back on my own D1 experience, and realize that although my classmates and I struggled through hardships together, we also celebrated triumphs together, and look forward to conquering dental school together.