Here's How to Start Your First Year in Dental School Off Right

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

student-studying-resize.jpgIf you’re an incoming dental student, you might be excited and nervous to know that September is right around the corner. Your first year of dental school is about to begin, and with it comes a plethora of new information and experiences awaiting you. The next four years will be met with new friends, technologies, and learning that will lead you to a successful career as a dentist. But how do you get over the hump in your first year?

Abby Halpern, starting this fall 2016 as a third year dental student at the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University, recently showcased a two-part “D1 Survival Guide” for THE NEXTDDS blog. Here’s a quick overview of some of the topics she covered:


Dental school compared to undergraduate school is, as Abby Halpern explains, an “apples to oranges” situation. Certainly, dental school students already have experience with the hustle and bustle of higher education, but be prepared for an even heavier workload.

A typical day starts at 8am and ends at 5pm, filled with studying, lectures, and lab work. However, you’ll have a team of peers and dental professionals to help you along the way. “The experiences you have inside the dental office and outside its confines give you a better understanding of the practitioner you want to be,” Halpern says.


This workload will certainly warrant a lot of note-taking. It’s important to know that note-taking can be achieved in different ways for different people. Some might condense lectures into small bubbles of handwritten text, followed by pictures and diagrams.

Others might use apps, online applications or software provided by their universities to get the job done. Whichever one you choose, stick to it and develop your note-taking skills.


By this point, you probably have your notebooks full of scribbles and you’re thinking, how am I going to make it another three years? For Abby Halpern, help came in the form of joining and working with an organization such as the ASDA to keep herself motivated.

Good distractions from family and friends will occasionally divert your attention away from the grind of dental school. Spending time with them will make you realize why you wanted to get into dentistry in the first place, helping people as you would your closest companions.

Seeing Patients

While the timetable for seeing patients depends on your dental school, it’s never too early to see what your first-patient experience is going to be like. You’ll want to build a trust between you and your patient, ensuring that they are confident in you.

Build your station, prep your assistant, and once you bring in the patient, build a rapport with them. Abby noted that she felt an “out of body experience” and felt more comfortable than she thought she would. If you’ve prepared for this moment, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

Your first year in dental school will no doubt be a challenge. As you start your journey in obtaining your white coat, new paths will begin to open up for you. They will certainly lead you down surprising roads, making new discoveries about your work, your philosophy, and your ambition along the way. For the next four years, you’ll have a clear sense of what kind of dentist you want to be. Good luck in the fall semester!


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Tags: dental school, first year

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