Friday, December 02, 2005

All caught up

I'm finally caught up with all the lab work in my classes this quarter. I'll be honest: I haven't been enjoying dentistry very much for at least the past month or two. I can trace it back to two main reasons:

(1) I fell behind in my preps for operative class. We're supposed to be on a strict schedule: prepare a filling (aka drill) for, say, tooth #18 by next week, and fill it by the next. Of course, the next week, you're starting a new tooth (or in some cases, teeth) the same day you're supposed to be filling the old one. The pace of the class is fast and furious. As you can imagine, it's very easy to fall behind.

Once that happened to me, it started dragging me down in the other classes. You can always cram for a test, but once you know the material, you know it.

That's not the way cavity preps work, at least for pre-clinical operative. There's no way to cram for it well - you just have to keep at it, until you get it right. There's also no telling what can go right or what can go wrong. You could be preparing the world's best prep, and it looks like it's going to be the pinnacle of your dental school career and then, SON OF A BITCH! You've gone just a little bit too deep and you've got to start over.

(2) The Dean Thing. Our school has been looking for a new dean for the past year. As it turns out, the student body gets one vote on the dean search committee, so the school has been very eager to have the dean candidates come speak with us for a couple hours when they're in town. Afterwards, the administration has been asking us for feedback before they go ahead and make the final decision.

The problem was, they picked the same day and the same 3-hour block of time every single week for us to meet the candidates: Wednesdays from 12pm to 3pm. That basically reduced our available class time in pre-clinical fixed prosthodontics by 33%. As a result, a lot of the work that was originally scheduled to be finished and/or completed during class has been given to us to do on our own time, after class.

The major problem with this arrangement is the way the class is structured. Let's say that today's task is to prepare a full gold crown on tooth #18. Ordinarily, we'd prep two teeth. One is designated as "the patient" and gets sent off to the lab to get worked up. The other tooth is designated as our "check off" tooth. The patient tooth is what or project grade will be based on, while the other tooth is just for the instructors to see us do our daily work. Ordinarily, the patient tooth should be the best prep that we've done that day; this is the tooth that will be turned in for evaluation at the end of the course when we have our case presentations. The check-off tooth is another tooth we can prepare in our spare time so we can show our instructors the next week that we've been obedient little monkeys and that no, we're not lazy.

By the end of the day, all the students should have finished their work and turn in whichever one becomes the patient tooth to the instructors. We fill out the paperwork and the instructors rush our work to the lab, so that the next time we see our preps/temps/impressions/whatever, we'll be able to continue with the next step of treatment for our patient.

But the Dean Thing has thrown our class into turmoil - we've been turning in sub-par preps because we just haven't had the class time to get the guidance or practice we need. Well, at least I haven't. There are some people out there who are simply amazing. Sometimes it makes me want to hang up my lab coat and take up trout fishing, or to start answering those classified ads looking for people to participate in paid drug testing.

Back to the point: you can see where things get hairy if you've got two labwork -intensive classes instead of the usual one. AND when you're basically trying to teach yourself what to do on your own, for fixed pros. There are only 24 hours in a day, and you've got other things to study for: Anatomy, Biochem, OCP...

I'm all caught up now, and just in time: there are only 12 days left until our first final. But after that, it's a long trip home to LA for some badly needed R&R.

Vegas, baby, Vegas!


At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Rico said...

Good luck with Finals Dave!!!


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