Here you can expect the writings of my dental school experiences. School is fast paced, I hope you can keep up with me…
So far my time blogging has been lackluster. Partially because I have been busy with school and I just don’t quite know how to do this. Regardless, here it goes.
To try and sum up the past year of dental school in one post would be an incredible disservice. So, let me highlight some important aspects and then we will focus on the future. Last fall when school began it was quite the adjustment period for me. It had been two years since I had taken a class and had to study for tests. Needless to say it was difficult to find a groove studying, but it came quickly. Dental school is a unique mix of didactic training plus hands on clinical work. This balance is a great learning environment for me as it allows students to apply what they are learning directly to their clinical skills.
Marquette prides itself in it emphasis on clinical training and it held true. Within the first two months of being at school I was able to use the skills I learned in simulation lab on the clinic floor as I probed one quadrant of teeth on a patient and explored for calculus! Later on that semester I was able to volunteer for a local program called Head Start where we performed dental screenings for school children. This was an awesome opportunity to work with children and get them excited about oral health.
The winter came all too quick and for an Arizona native like myself, although it was a mild winter, it was too cold. Spring rolled around and I went to Dallas, Texas to teach leadership to undergraduates. This is a yearly conference that I have been volunteering at that is hosted by my the fraternity I was a part of during my undergraduate career, Pi Kappa Phi. It was a nice start to the spring semester as it allowed me to help students and reconnect with friends and old colleagues.
Between assisting in the clinic, classes, and off campus rotations spring came and went. I applied for a program in the Navy that would allow me to be a Navy Dental Officer once I graduate. It is an awesome opportunity that would allow me to gain a lot of clinical experience while serving my country. I was accepted to this program but they did not have enough spots so I was put on a waiting list until my spot came up. Later in the summer I would be officially enlisted in the Navy. It was now summertime and the two weeks we had off were much needed. I went home to Arizona and with the help of my dad and brother, we built a raised garden for my mother. She wants a new hobby and I think she is going to do well at gardening.
Summer session started and we began the course that all the upperclassmen warned us about, Removable Prosthodontics, AKA Dentures. Contrary to their opinion I really enjoyed the course. I paired up with my lab partner, Nora, and together we made a set of dentures (full over full) for our patient. Admittedly, the process was great because our patient was fun and easy to work with.
Before July break, I went to Madison, WI to volunteer at an event hosted by the WDA (Wisconsin Dental Association) called Mission of Mercy. This event is a temporary dental clinic that sees over 2,500 patients over the course of 48 hours and provides free dental care. It is a remarkable experience working with dentists, dental hygienists, radiology technicians, students, and more. I had the opportunity to work radiology where I took over 100 panoramic x-rays in just under 5 hours. These are very important in helping the dentist determine the course of treatment for the patients. For the afternoon shift I worked central sterilization. This is a monotonous, mind numbing job that needed to be done to keep the clean and sterilize the instruments being used on the clinic floor and as a result keeps the dentists moving. We had a competition and we had the most efficient team and processing instruments.
June was full of many weddings. I returned to Arizona to see my childhood friend, Robert, marry his soul mate, Abby. I was honored, and surprised to say the blessing before dinner. At the same time, we had a mini-reunion with some of the guys from the fraternity that we founded during undergrad. I also ran into my old youth minister, Barb and my high school English teacher Mr. G., both of whom were very influential in my life. The next morning I flew to Austin, TX where I met up with some old colleagues that I met working for Pi Kappa Phi in Charlotte, NC. We spent the night in Austin, enjoyed the nightlife and got up the next day to drive to Waco, TX (home of Dr. Pepper), where we watched our former colleague marry his high school sweetheart. It was a great time experiencing a wedding in Texas and getting to see Thomas marry Jamie.
I left after a long day, and drove back to Milwaukee with one of my classmates, Mike. I had a flight to catch in the morning so I needed to return that night. That same day Summerfest was going on. This is a two week long music festival that is held at the lakefront grounds. That night FUN. and Train were playing. It was an exciting experience seeing how Milwaukee does music.
July break came and I went to Colorado to meet up with my expended family in Estes Park. There we went white water rafting, completed a high ropes course, hiked, and much more. It was nice to be around family for an entire week and to see my not so little cousins. I returned to school and continued to see “recall patients.” These are patients that come in for routing cleanings and the school has a program where we apply the skills we learned the previous year. I got to meet some great patients and help them to maintain their oral health. It was an awesome opportunity all around.
Beyond school, summers in Milwaukee are pretty fun. Milwaukee has many festivals throughout the summer. Italian Fest, German fest, Irish fest, and the list goes on. I already mentioned Summerfest. In addition to the two shows I saw before Colorado I saw O.A.R. play when I returned. Shortly thereafter, The Journey of Hope came through Milwaukee and I got to meet up with the team and one of my best friends Nick Brady. If you don’t know about Journey of Hope visit www.pushamerica.org. In a nutshell, they raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities while riding their bicycles across the country. I participated in a different program through the same parent organization called Build America where we built accessible amenities for people with disabilities at different summer camps that serve kids with disabilities. I collected dental hygiene bags with toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, toothbrush, and some sugar free gum to give to the team to thank them for all they are doing. In addition I got some Wisconsin cheese so they could use it on their “crew chief” lunches. Later that same week my friend Greg and I went down to Chicago to see Nick and the team one last time.
Summer wrapped up quick and right before finals I decided to travel to Washington D.C. to watch the Journey of Hope as they completed their trip and additionally to see my brother Kevin, who had participated in Build America. There I met up with some old teammates, saw old colleagues, and got to see my dad (who did not make it to Colorado). In addition I got to see Nia again. I first met her on Build America in 2008 while we were in Grand Island, NE. I kept in contact with her ever since and even stopped by when I was driving to NC before I started working for the Fraternity in 2009.
In the future I will update this more often, and will have shorter posts. Now I am well into my first semester as a second year dental student and this is where I will leave you, for now.