5 Questions With ... Tommy Lau

    Tommy Lau  
Tommy Lau
Dental Student, Class of 2024 
University of Michigan School of Dentistry


1. In 10 years, the biggest change about dental education (or dentistry) will be …

In my opinion, the biggest change about dental education in the next 10 years will be the modality of learning. As the pandemic has challenged dental educators to implement education in various creative formats, faculties have developed new avenues to adapt to the modality and explored other non-traditional ways for students to learn outside of simply lecturing. Although we are transitioning out of complete online learning, I think new ways of delivering a quality dental education is here to stay.  

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed dental education?

The COVID-19 pandemic peaked during my first two years of dental education, hence most of my didactic material was delivered online. The pandemic also limited the number of students present per clinical rotation. In other words, it reduces the ratio of number of students to faculty! I felt that I have gotten to maximize my in-person experience due to increasing my preparedness and making sure I come into those rotations with all the questions that I had from my didactic learnings.  

3. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to anyone in dental school?

Being a dental professional means you have attested yourself to lifelong learning! You may have not performed well on a test, or you feel like the restorations you did on your patient could’ve been better—but at the end of the day, it’s all about understanding how you can improve at where you are. The great thing is that the profession is dynamic and there’s always something new, even 30 years from now.  

4. What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I had the biggest fear of public speaking. At the same time, I find it very stimulating to push myself out of my comfort zone in this aspect. It’s sort of like riding on a roller coaster even though you’re extremely afraid of heights and speed. Over time, I learn about myself and my reactions when I stand in front of hundreds of people, and I have grown to love speaking with a smile on my face to hide my internal fear.  

5. What’s your favorite vacation spot—and why?

My favorite vacation spot is Florida! I love the heat and the moisture down there. Some might not agree, but the atmosphere there reminds me of relaxation, slowing down and enjoying the moment.