The 5 Daily Habits of Successful Dental Students

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

dental-student-in-clinic.jpgThe secret to becoming a dentist is self-discipline, focus, and perseverance. It also doesn't hurt to borrow some jewels of wisdom from faculty and mentor dentists. More often than not, you'll find that their successes hinge on daily habits and systems that promote efficiency in both their personal and professional lives. As Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and author, once said: "Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” Here are 5 recommendations for your day:

1. Rise early and relax. 

It's true, there aren't enough hours in the day. However, if you set your alarm for a half hour earlier than you usually wake up, you might be surprised at how much you can accomplish. This is especially true if you spend this extra time relaxing and regrouping for the day ahead. Eat a good breakfast, take a few minutes to do something you enjoy, and ease yourself into the morning and your dental school schedule. If you want to take it a step further, set aside relaxation "bookends" every day, one when you wake up and one right before you go to sleep. Go to bed a half an hour earlier and give your body a breather. Read a good book, do some yoga, or just take your time settling in for the night. Whatever you do, let work go by the wayside and allow yourself to enjoy a much-needed break.

2. Know your schedule. 

Understand that you’ll need to follow your schedule. Sit down after your morning relaxation time and take a look at your upcoming agenda. Most of a dental student’s day is devoted to class and clinic, so planning where you’ll need to be and what resources are required of you is imperative. Have a notebook, or more digital and virtual options such as EverNote, to indicate any potential changes to this schedule that might affect your week. Rank everything you jot down in terms of priority, taking care of the most pressing matters first. The name of the game is organization and time management.

3. Set a challenge or goal EVERY day. 

Every day should have a focal point. More specifically, a goal, problem, or challenge that you want to overcome. If possible, create a planner of how you want the week to go, and assign a particular challenge to each day. For instance, Monday might be the day that you finally sign up for that meeting or session you've missed every year, while Tuesday will be dedicated to tidying up your work desk. Once you set the challenge for yourself, stick to it and don't let distractions stand in your way. Of course, there may be times when an emergency arises and you have to postpone your plans. Just be sure to put it on your agenda for the following day and stay focused on the desired outcome.

4. Promote yourself. 

You should do at least one thing to promote yourself every day, even if it’s through social media or preparing your resume or for Dental Matching Program interviews. The key is to establish a presence and then maintain it consistently, so that prospective Program administrators or employers understand what you have to offer. This also gives you the opportunity to build your marketing and communication skills, which can be extremely useful if you are inexperienced with the business side of dentistry. On days that you feel particularly ambitious, you can always self-promote on a grander scale through networking at events, conferences, and meetings.

5. Offer guidance and support to others. 

One of the most notable things that puts successful dental students a cut above the rest is their willingness to help others. They know that offering support, advice, and guidance to other dental students is worth the time and effort. Not only is it an altruistic quality, but helping those who are less experienced builds relationships. These relationships offer a chance for dental students to grow as leaders. Collaborating, helping, and working with others is great preparation for when a dental student may find themselves in a practice after graduation. It’s always important to spread expertise so that you and your team can work effectively.

Above all else, dentists give it their all. You must be able to focus on the task at hand and be passionate about the hard work that goes into dentistry. When clinic gets tough and you feel like throwing in the towel, remember why you wanted to become a dentist in the first place. These are the core values and goals that will fuel you as you move forward. That is what will make you the best dentist you can be.

Are you looking for ways to fine tune your dentistry? Enroll in THE NEXTDDS today!

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Tags: dental students, success, daily habits

VCU School of Dentistry Students Provide Primary Care to the Underserved in Jamaica

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 01:00 PM



VCU School of Dentistry faculty and dental students at the Long Pond Clinic in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica.

For dental students, some learning experiences make a bigger difference than others. For Amy Reichert, Class of 2016 at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry, the opportunity to provide care for the underserved population in Jamaica is especially powerful. Since 1986, VCU students have been going to Trelawny Parish in Jamaica and working out of a clinic that is adjacent to a sugar cane factory. These D4 students perform cleanings, extractions, restorations, and provide education for the local community, and the Jamaicans welcomed them warmly. “People would get so excited about making sure that their children would get looked at,” she said in a recent interview with THE NEXTDDS.

Every year, VCU Jamaica Project sends three waves of D4 students and dental hygiene students for one week stints to provide diagnostic and definitive care services under the direct guidance of preceptors. According to Reichert, the students rotate in their duties in the clinic. “We tried to rotate every few hours,” she said, to avoid fatigue and to broaden the experience. The demand for their care was high. “When do you say no? You can’t see everybody. All the patients were so appreciative,” she noted. Since the local population generally worked at the sugar cane plant, “we saw a lot of anterior caries, not so much the occlusal and buccal decay we see here in Richmond.”


Amy Reichert, 2016 DDS Candidate, of VCU School of Dentistry.

Besides the high demand for their services, the students faced challenges with technology as well, Reichert said. “We had no X-rays there. It made doing restorations much more difficult. Every tooth you opened up was completely bombed out, even if they didn’t look too bad initially. We ended up pulping and pulling a lot of teeth.”

Mick Pope, DDS, and a faculty coordinator for the annual visit, emphasized that the students pay their individual airfare and they go there to work. “It’s not a trip that you win. The program runs only because the students raise the money.” Students initially express interest at an organizational meeting in January or February, then they coordinate fundraising events to pay for food, supplies and housing. Every year one student takes the initiative to be the coordinator, and for this most recent trip that student was Reichert. She kept track of how involved students were, who participated in fundraisers, and who took on leadership roles.  The most involved students were invited to go.  The trips take place in late October and early November, a challenging time for fourth-year students to leave since it is considered prime interviewing season.

Remarked Pope, “We take nine or ten students each wave over three weeks, so between 24 and 28 go each year. Most years we have an overabundance of students who want to go.” Not every dental school makes such an experience available to their students. “I don’t know how many students [go to Jamaica] from purely academic programs here in the U.S.” The experience has been powerful for students, Pope noted. “Feedback from students after each Project routinely includes the comment, ‘that’s the best thing that I ever did in dental school.’”

Dental students performed tooth extractions and provided preventive care, restorative procedures, and oral hygiene education to the Trelawny clinic patients.

Reichert agrees. She found the opportunity to work closely with their preceptor, oral surgeon Dr. Greg Zoghby, was priceless. “Working with Dr. Zoghby was amazing. The little techniques I learned from him I will take with me for the rest of my career. I learned so many small techniques not just with extractions but also the anesthesia. Usually we do a lot of infiltrations in school, but he taught us how to do specific blocks and made sure we really understood the anatomy. A lot of us don’t get much experience with that in school.”

Over the 29-year history of the Jamaica trip, Pope says the school has developed many strong relationships with Jamaicans throughout Trelawny. “The clinic is in a sugar cane factory, set up to service their workforce.” The group stores their equipment in the clinic at the end of each Project, “and hopefully it will be there waiting for us next year,” he notes. When asked what the future holds, Pope says that they never really know. “This could always be the last year – we relay on the favors and willingness of our Jamaican friends to help us do this. We have no securities other than the on-going relationships we've established.” He fully expects that the effort will continue despite the challenges. “With 1,000 people being laid off [from the factory] just recently, they’re going to want and need our services next fall more than ever.”

Reichert also enjoyed the cultural exposure. “I’m really glad we had the opportunity to experience what it was like to be there day-to-day. We had a chance to see what it was like to actually be a Jamaican. The staff that we had in our houses were amazing. I’m a vegan, so cooking for me was more of a challenge. Gordon, our cook, went above and beyond. He made sure I was taken care of every night.”

Was there one especially memorable patient? Reichert shared this case. “There was this one lady…probably in her 60s, and I was taking out the rest of her teeth. She was nothing but smiles and gave me the biggest hug and told me she loved me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that good after seeing a patient.” She hopes to continue doing outreach care after she finishes her endodontics residency.

More information on the VCU trip to Jamaica can be found at their “unofficial” website. On behalf of all at THE NEXTDDS, we thank the VCU School of Dentistry team for sharing this amazing adventure.

Tags: dental students, VCU School of Dentistry, outreach, clinic

4 Advantages to Using the Online Dental Student Groups through THE NEXTDDS

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 06:00 PM

One of the useful features of THE NEXTDDS is its Groups page created to enhance the user experience and connectivity. These groups allow you to connect with peers in your dental school or organization. Outlined below are features of THE NEXTDDS Groups that enrolled students can access right from their Profile pages. 



When you enroll in THE NEXTDDS, you are placed in your university’s or organization’s group page. From your Profile page, you can join or leave groups and invite your peers to your groups.


This message board can be used by only group members or THE NEXTDDS Administrator. Members can post important information about classes, campus events, meetings, and just about anything else they want to quickly communicate to all other group members.


Each group calendar is populated with the details from the school’s academic calendar (test dates, fundraising events, school holidays, etc.) as well as other events of interest in the dental community.


Each member has the opportunity to display his or her name, school and contact information on the group page, as well as a profile picture. These options (that a student can decline for privacy) are helpful for networking should a member choose to feature that information.

Access Your School Group

Groups provide you with many benefits and an instant connection with the enrolled dental student population. If you’re interested in serving as the Administrator for your dental school group or would like to form a group focused on your interests, you are welcome to contact us at Your peers, classmates and connections could be just a click away.

Tags: dental students, THE NEXTDDS, online, dental schools, networking, message board

5 Benefits of a DSO-Supported Practice for New Graduates

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 07:00 PM

DSO-article-thumbTHE NEXTDDS Fall 2015 Magazine is now online! This issue features an article entitled Pick Your Path--What is a DSO? (on page 20) that looks at the role of the DSO-supported practice in modern dentistry and how new graduates may benefit from joining such a practice. Whether recent graduate or practicing dentist, there are many who may benefit from practicing in a DSO environment. Those desiring flexible schedules, bearing the burden of significant student loan debt, or needing to build competency in a structured practice model are ideal for the practice supported by a DSO. New dentists who wish to learn from proven business systems rather than a traditional solo practitioner are also well suited for the DSO model. Below are 5 benefits, that you can find out about more fully within the article, of a DSO-supported practice.


With a guaranteed steady patient flow (a key driver in any practice) and competitive salary packages, it’s not surprising that this is a major factor in the decision for new graduates. Many affiliated dentists enjoy higher production and earn more than their counterparts in private practice due to an ability to spend time on patient care rather than business activities.

Ease of Employment

New graduates can face difficulties finding immediate employment for a number of reasons. Dentists are retiring later than in previous years, so the number of practices for sale/partnership have reduced. Recovery from the recession has been slow, so fewer private practices are hiring associates or graduates with little experience. It can be difficult for a new graduate to get a foot in the door or, alternately, to obtain capital for practice acquisition. Practices supported by DSOs are willing to employ new graduates and are able to support them to a degree that a private practice often cannot.

DSO_Path-thumbStudent Debt

Upon graduation, the average dentist has nearly $250,000 in student loan debt, creating a barrier to practice ownership. Generating enough income to cover debt and expenses the first few years as a solo practitioner can be challenging. Some DSOs have programs in place to help dental students retire their dental school debt faster.

Work/Life Balance

Modern employment trends are evolving, and lifestyle preferences such as regular hours, mobility, and flexible work schedules are becoming increasingly important. A successful dental career isn’t all about money, and married professionals and dual-profession families require a lifestyle that practice ownership doesn’t always allow.

Opportunities to Acquire Experience

Increasing confidence and clinical speed while building patient production is a big attraction for new dentists. Practices supported by DSOs are able to offer clinical supervision, ongoing education, in-house training, and other benefits that usually aren’t available in a traditional private practice. The opportunities for interaction with other dentists and peers is also an attractive feature of a larger practice structure. Organizations such as the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) have formed out this same imperative, enabling affiliated dentists to join a community and to brainstorm and collectively discuss issues affecting the profession.

DSO-supported practices are part of a growing trend in the industry to provide quality and affordable care to improve public health. Why is joining a practice associated with a DSO a smart move for a new dental graduate? Access the article now!

Access the Article

Tags: dental students, dental, debt, dental support organization, student loan, DSO, graduating dentist

The Chicago Dental Society Mentorship Program

Posted by John Papa on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 @ 02:54 PM

“One of the most rewarding parts about this program is when the mentor becomes the mentee.”

These were the words of Dr. Clark Stanford, new Dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of two schools that participates in the CDS Mentorship Program (the other being Midwestern – Illinois). Students and faculty from both schools were in attendance at the CDS Midwinter meeting “Mentorship Luncheon”. This lunch event, sponsored by the Chicago Dental Society, was the first chance that many of the students from these schools got to meet their mentor face to face and shake his/her hand.

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Dr. David Kumamoto runs the mentorship program at Midwestern University. Dr. Kumamoto is an adjunct professor at Midwestern, a former faculty member at UIC, and he maintains a general dentistry practice in Chicago. Dr. Kumamoto was involved in the program during his time at UIC, and carried the tradition with him to Midwestern. Currently, there are approximately 45 students at Midwestern and nearly 200 students at UIC enrolled in the mentorship program.

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Interestingly, Dr. Kumamoto and his counterpart at UIC, Ms. Millie Mendez-Garcia (Director of Student Affairs for UIC Dental) work hard to make sure that students from each university are NOT paired with a faculty member mentor from his/her own university, but with someone from outside the familiar confines of their school.

Other than a possible conflict of interest, Ms. Mendez (who manually pairs every applicant student with a mentor herself), explained the reasoning behind this to me as such: “The faculty within the schools are supposed to serve as mentors to their own students.”

Ms. Mendez explained that any student of any year at either university can apply for a mentor, and that no students are turned away from the program. Both students and potential mentors are required to apply for the program through the CDS’ website. Ms. Mendez and her team then try to pair mentors with mentees who share similar interests or desired specialty areas. For instance, a student interested in Implantololgy might be paired with a local implant dentist, or a student interested in joining a group practice might be paired with a dentist who is a member of a group practice.

The purpose of this program, as alluded to earlier, is to help students discover what paths they want to pursue outside the bounds of the general dental school curriculum. Students also have the option to change their mentor at any time if their interests change, or if they find they have a better connection with a different practitioner. Mentors are not exclusive to one student either; the record for mentees currently stands at 4 at one time according to Ms. Mendez.

Outside of the official luncheon event at the CDS Midwinter, the mentor program does not hold official events. Once the relationship is formed, it is the responsibility of the mentor and the mentee to maintain it. Some of these relationships may last a professional lifetime, while others may not have the sticking power to continue outside of dental school. Nevertheless, the potential that the program offers new students just entering the profession to learn from a seasoned veteran who has already forged his of her own career path cannot be understated.

Tags: chicago, dental students, CDS, mentor, Chicago dental society, mentorship, dentistry

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