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The excitement of getting accepted into dental school can quickly wear off when you see how vast and detailed the curriculum is and how much you’re yet to learn. Though it can be daunting, the best way to ensure your success is to develop a clear plan of attack. With this in mind, here are five tips you can use as the foundation for a bulletproof strategy to make it through dental school.
1. Strategy beats hard work
Whether you’re learning about anatomy, dental veneers, or social media marketing, you need to have a study strategy in place that takes into account your unique learning style. Though hard work is necessary, it will get you nowhere if it’s not targeted. Try out different study formats like recording your notes and listening back to them, writing and rewriting important information, and discussing new material with classmates. Figure out which study strategies work for you and then incorporate them into a weekly plan that allows you to absorb the information gradually over time. Cramming may get you through an exam, but it won’t make the information stick long-term.
2. Make friends and collaborate
There’s so much to be learned in your dentistry degree, and not just from the professors. Your fellow students will have interesting insights, useful study tips, and many more benefits to offer. Though you may not feel like it, you also have a lot to offer them. By working together, you will form bonds that will help you through the stress of tertiary education while also improving your chances of getting top grades.
3. Act like the dentist you hope to be one day
Though some degrees don’t demand that students be professional from the get-go, dentistry is not one of them. You will be learning from professionals in the field, so it’s essential that you start acting with professionalism from day one. This is especially true whenever you’re in the student clinic or on placement and dealing directly with patients.
You are a future healthcare provider, so it’s important to project that image. The beauty of this arrangement is that your professional networking has already started in your first year of education. By making good impressions early on, you could be opening up incredible opportunities for your future self.
4. Never hesitate in asking for help
Remember that jam-packed curriculum we spoke of? With so much ground to cover, the pacing is fast in dental school. This means if you don’t understand something but don’t ask for clarification right away, all the new knowledge built from that foundation won’t make sense to you.
Ask questions immediately and don’t be afraid of looking foolish in front of your peers. Chances are a few of them had the same question but were too shy to ask. The teaching staff will appreciate the fact that you care about the details and are determined to get things right. These are both essential qualities in a dentist. If you need additional help, there are always people who can provide additional instruction. Even in the era of Coronavirus, online tutoring can be a simple and effective strategy to augment your structured coursework.
5. Keep your body and mind healthy
You’ll be under a lot of pressure to succeed, so the healthier your mind and body are, the better equipped you’ll be to hit your goals. Take advantage of the programs offered by your school, which may include gym access, sports, and counseling services. Keep caffeine and alcohol use to a minimum, eat a balanced diet, and whatever you do, don’t start smoking! Health concerns aside, no-one wants to endure the scent of cigarette smoke or vape juice in a dental clinic.
Follow the tips above, develop your own study strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to being a fully qualified dentist.