Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Dental School

Posted by Michelle Zin on August 07, 2014

Starting dental school can seem stressful and overwhelming, but it is also a rewarding journey. Throughout my time at the Ostrow School of Dentistry, I’ve gathered tips and advice on surviving dental school. It’s still a work in progress since I will undoubtedly face many more challenges and make more mistakes, but I hope these tips can somehow serve as a guide to ease your transition into dental school. Michelle Zin - Impressions

Accept that you may not be the best.
One of the biggest things I struggled with in preclinical was learning the precision and meticulousness of dentistry. It’s a difficult task to learn how to manipulate your handpiece inside a mouth and even more challenging when you have to use indirect vision. You’ll face many challenges in dental school simply because you’ve never been exposed to working inside the mouth. You have to learn to accept that you might not get it right the first, second, third or even the fourth time. This means you need to spend more time practicing to be your best!

Michelle Zin - FriendsAsk upperclassmen for advice.
Dental school is unfamiliar territory and it’s hard getting used to how everything works. Make connections with upperclassmen and ask them what it was like when they were in your shoes. It’s sometimes difficult to figure everything out on your own, so asking for their advice might give you a clearer picture of what you can expect.

Don’t always listen to your upperclassmen.
Even though this might seem like it contradicts my last tip, I felt it necessary to warn you that even though upperclassman may have the best intentions, they’re not always right. What worked when they were in your shoes might not be effective a year later. Curriculums and faculty expectations often change from year to year. Use your best judgment whenever you ask an upperclassman for information.

Learn to take criticism. Michelle Zin - Impression2
No one is perfect, and dental school will teach you that. Professors will always find flaws in work that you might think is perfect. They may seem blunt or harsh at times, but they only want you to be a better dentist. Take criticism with a grain of salt; it might seem insensitive at first, but they only want you to succeed.

Get involved!
One of the best parts of dental school for me was getting involved with organized dentistry and various clubs at my school. Joining several groups gave me the chance to network and build relationships with colleagues and faculty. Participating in different events related to dentistry made me really appreciate the value of learning outside of the classroom setting.

Michelle Zin - AbroadGive back to the community.
The main reason I wanted to become a dentist was to have the chance to provide care to people who need it most. I became involved with the mobile clinic from my school during my first year, which gave me valuable experience interacting with underserved patients on a regular basis. The past two years I’ve traveled to Colombia and Guatemala to provide free dental care to communities in need. Experiences like these show how fortunate we are and highlight the importance of giving back as future doctors!

*post originally published 7/24/2013

About Michelle Zin:

Michelle Zin

University of Southern California Ostrow School of Dentistry, Third year dental student

Michelle is currently a third year student at the University of Southern California Ostrow School of Dentistry. She is involved with her school's American Dental Education Association (ADEA) chapter as her class representative, and also on a national level as one of the Regional Representatives for the Pacific Region. Her mission is to provide dental care for underserved communities. She has been an active member at her school's mobile clinic since her first year, and currently serves as codirector for the University of Southern California Ayuda Mobile Dental Clinic program. She hopes to pursue a career in pediatric dentistry after dental school.