As a D4, looking back on my journey over the last three years, it seems so much has happened. I went from being an anxious struggling D1, not sure if I had what it took to handle dental school, to now feeling a lot more confident in myself both in and out of the clinic. I’ve had to learn how to balance work and organize my time, while still prioritizing eating well, exercising, and taking care of my mental health.
If I have anything to say to pre-dental students it would be that it’s going to be a ride, it won’t be easy, but you can do it. It all starts with mastering your mind, waking up every day, and giving it all you got whether it be in your didactic classes or in the lab and then later in the clinic. Know that things aren’t going to be as straightforward as you’re used to. You’re going to have to figure out what works for you personally and not worry about what others are doing.
Personally, some things that have helped me tremendously are:
Getting organized with my schedule. My phone calendar is intense. I write everything from reminders to appointments, even what I’m doing with friends on the weekends. Life is about to get extremely busy for you and it’s easy to lose track of all your commitments/things that have to get done for school. Use your calendar, learn how to manage your time, and value it. It’s your most precious resource.
Build yourself a support system. Talk to your peers, help each other out, and ask questions. Talk to your family, don’t bottle stress up; it’s good to get perspective from someone outside of school too. Get closer to your faith if that is something you practice. This is just going to be a phase in your professional development. Although it may get tough and overwhelming at times, sooner than you know if you’re going to be a dentist, you’ll know what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. It’s ok if you don’t have it together 100% of the time. It’s ok if you’re not the best right away. It’s a journey, and you’re not alone don’t lose sight of that.
Take care of your own health first. You won’t be able to perform at your best if you are struggling with your own physical/mental health. It’s ok to seek help. It happens more often than people talk about. Recognize when you need fo time off if you need to recover from an injury. Get yourself in the gym to decompress your mind and body. Make time for enjoying your youth! I always think “this is the youngest I’ll ever be again, how am I going to make the most of the free time I manage to have now”.
Dental school can be consuming at times. Just the suspense leading up to it can be stressful but you’re not the first to take on this challenge and if others can do it so can you! You’ve put in the work to make it this far and you’ll make it till the end with the same perseverance, a positive attitude, and determination.