Dental school is similar to a
really good movie, in my opinion. Think
about it, in a truly great film you are invested, you’ll laugh, cry, and wish
there was more when it is over. Being a
4th year student, I’m not sure if that last one really qualifies,
but I’m sure the time will come when it does (I remember wishing I was back in undergrad around my second Gross Anatomy exam in dental school, haha).
As I look back, one of the main aspects that have affected every step of
my dental school career is the fact that I am a member of the inaugural class
and this has given me a unique perspective.
My final semester is approaching and I’ve recently completed an outside
clinical rotation. Being a newer
program, our school has a different approach to the externship process.
From friends at other programs,
I’ve heard some students spend as little as 2 weeks on a rotation. To give a reference, at UNE we complete 3
12-week rotations. Now, not all 3 are
external, but most students complete 2 of the 3 off-campus. After learning the various types of rotations
at other schools, I am very happy with the experience I received. Of course there were some downsides- for
instance finding housing was extremely stressful- but the good heavily
outweighed any of the adversities. I
wanted to take the time to give the biggest piece of advice to anyone going on
a clinical rotation- BE OPEN MINDED!
Whether you are somewhere for 1
week, 1 month, or 1 semester, it is crucial to remain flexible and try to
absorb all the information you can. It
will be challenging no matter where you go, and that’s okay- I promise, you’ll
get the hang of it. Confidence is key,
but remember you will have a preceptor and never be afraid to speak up for
yourself or ask questions. Those being
said, keep in mind your professionalism when speaking to the preceptor, staff,
patients, and auxiliary team members as well.
More than likely, everything will be different from what you’ve grown
accustomed to at your school- software, scheduling, materials, operatory
set-up, radiographs, etc. And this is
why being open minded is of the utmost importance.
If you close your mind off, you’ll
lose the opportunity to learn and grow as a clinician. Not to say that you will want run your office
exactly as your externship, perhaps you’ll observe certain aspects of a dental
practice that you don’t want to implement in the future- you’re still learning
and gaining experience. It’s easy to go
in with blinders on and not branch out, but as dental students we aren’t used
to easy- getting here wasn’t easy, staying here surely wasn’t, and while I’m
not there yet I assume post-graduation won’t be such a cake walk (cough*paying back
student loans*cough). I believe a part
of any dental students personality is the ability to adapt and as long as you
keep that in mind, you will be successful on any and all clinical
rotations. Best of luck to all of you
and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of opportunities in communities
you are unfamiliar with. As they say “Life
begins at the end of your comfort zone”.