Course recaps, clinic logistics,
and the year that changed my life.
(a recap, not for the fainthearted)
If you’ve been wandering around my dental school life chronicles wondering why I haven’t posted a recap in nearly a year… I plead the fifth. As much as I would like to brush it off and pretend that there has been nothing to see here, in fact there has been far too much. Rather than spend any precious time during 2020 wallowing in self pity over a year of chaos to recap it for a blog, which none of you would have wanted to read, ever, I spent the last year surviving instead. Now that it has ended (only in calendar-year sense), and we were finally given a break to rebound from a year with our heads to the grindstone, I have been able to mull over 2020 properly, I think. I’m about to offer you an open book view look into the last year of my life.
It’s rather difficult to break apart the last year of dental school, and life in general, when the reality of the last year has been nothing but blurred lines and grey space. A D2 spring recap wasn’t appropriate because D2 spring never really ended. Then D3 summer never really began or ended, and then suddenly January became December, we were thrust a white coat overnight (literally) and I have been treading water as a D3 ever since.
I try not to muddle family/personal life too much with my dental school recaps but once you sprinkle a pandemic into the dental success recipe the entire story just becomes a Surprise Pie. So, I’m going to recap it all. First the D2 year that began, then sort-of ended, then restarted bootcamp style and was never officially climatic or monumentally closed. Then the D3 summer that started, stopped briefly, then ramped up to 110%, served with a side of clinic conundrum. And finally, though you may not actually want to read this part (I am genuinely serious), the segment of the story when my entire life fell apart, shattered into a million glass slivers in my lap, and had to be re-glued in the spare time that I did not have.
Boy are you in for a ride. Open wide, because here we go.
D2 Spring Courses:
For the final stretch of D2 we were slammed with a plethora of courses,
both lecture based and lab based.
Oral pathology 3x a week
Fixed Prosthodontics lecture 2x
Fixed Prosthodontics lab 2x
Complete denture lecture
Complete denture lab
Pain control theory
Pain control practice/anesthesia (…the almighty stab lab and gas day)
Operative lecture 2x
Operative lab 2x
Assisting chairside with D4 mentor
Over the course of Jan-May we had quite the interesting experience. From January to Mid March (spring break) we carried on with courses as usual. All practicals, manikin exercises, and lab projects listed below were performed in the school prior to the shutdown… there was really no way we could have done either task otherwise because dental school is so hands-on and lab based. Also, largely all quizzes were done prior to shutdown, with the exception of Endo, where we could take them at home as a reflective learning method.
So without further adieu,
here are items we survived to top off D2, pre and mid-pandemic:
37 lab assignments
6 patient exercises
52.5 credit hours (23 didactic, 29 dental/clinical)
I would normally recap in beautiful detail all the inner workings of each class, but this blog would be laughably longer than it already is, and because of this, I will spare you. Quite simply here is the very shortened not-even-Cliffs-Notes- worthy version of that recap.
A quick, non-comprehensive, non-exhaustive breakdown of each course:
learning the anatomy, physiology, pathology, anomalies, and treatment of endodontically related structures and diseases. We had loads of theory lecture, then learned and perfected performing root canals on plastic teeth and cadaver teeth in lab
Learning growth and development, anatomy, physiology, disease process, and treatments for anything related to pedodontics and endodontics. We then took time in the lab to identify various lesion morphologies, perform preps, and learn how to seat bands and crowns on primary teeth. (Pediatric typodont below for reference)
A continuation of pathology, but this time focused on only oral lesions and anomalies, identification intraoral and through radiographs, prevalence, and methods of treatment.
Fixed Prosthodontics lecture/lab:
All things fixed including bridges, crowns, preps, ideal and non-ideal dentition, identifying need and restriction in fixed dental care, and materials.
Complete denture lecture/lab:
Learning edentulous anatomy, fabricating dentures for all scenarios, ideal and nonideal situations and how to best treat with removable prosthetics, taking a live patient and fabricating a denture for them from start to finish including all lab work.
Pain control theory:
Learning the basics of pain and pain management, anesthetic techniques, types, dosages, and emergency care. Also practicing injections on fellow students.
Learning about carried and disease processes, movement of caries through tooth structure, treatments, different restorative techniques and materials, and practicing all preparations in a lab setting.
Practicing taking xrays with and on fellow students, mounting xrays, learning proper angles and form, and identifying anomalies and disease processes on xrays.
Assisting chair-side with D4 mentor:
Simply as stated
An overview of the charting system used at Creighton
Part 1, an overview of medications, indications, actions, and history. No picture needed for this special kind of trauma.
Theory behind periodontally derived diseases and treatment methods. Again, no pictures, its alllll in my brain where it deserves to stay.
And all the fond memories of studying…
inside coffee shops.
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D2 finale (in depth):
As I stated before, it was an interesting time. We were going about a full 40+ hour weekly schedule, working on projects round the clock, then suddenly all of this came to a full stop. We went away for spring break knowing that there were starting to be cases spreading on US soil but had no idea the extent or circumstances to come. I remember watching on the news during spring break that there were outbreaks in Chicago, NYC, and LA, and watching as animated images of the US started predicting possible spreads as red pixelated squares creeped across the country and filled in territories. I had thought that these were major international hubs and there would be containment, but it turns out we were very wrong and it was widespread already.
Unknowing of what was to come, an Army friend was visiting from Tuskegee for Spring Break. She flew in to see me mid-week and we were able to go about our life as usual. Being sheltered in the midwest there wasn’t much humm about the circumstances, everything was still open, we didn’t have a relative idea of what was going on in other states other than when short segments popped on the news then resumed with other irrelevant stories. So maybe it was like one last ‘hoorah!’ to have her here. We went to the zoo, had some amazing food, went to a couple wineries, shopped, and had some fun. However, it wasn’t until her last day visiting me that we started to feel the impending doom thrust upon us.
We were heading home from lunch when her email started firing off messages. Being from the Southeast, they were already acting on the pandemic closures, and she was alerted not to return to campus. Hours later, I began receiving multiple calls, alerts, and emails telling me Creighton campus was closed until further notice. Our dean sent a message telling us to return to Omaha at the close of spring break recess and wait for a meeting the following week, rather than return to classes. So instantly our spring break was extended by a week. The saturday of what would normally end our spring break brought 6 inches of snow as I drove my friend to the airport, then went to the grocery store to stock up on food during pure pandemonium. At 6am the grocery store looked like Black Friday. People were tearing food off the shelves as merchants tried to stock them simultaneously. People started taking boxes of what was being stocked right out of their hands, and lines were sprawled across the store. I grabbed a few non-perishables and anything I could fit in the freezer, and at this point you already know there was no toilet paper to be found anywhere.
The meeting that was supposed to be hosted by the dean never occurred, at the close of the second free week we were all told to return to our “homes” (being as most students were originally from out of state and could go to their parents) and we would later be updated on a new schedule. From March-May we finished any lecture courses out through recorded lecture learning, some quizzes, and online exams through Examplify. We then went right into some summer D3 courses in the same format, and left behind our D2 lab courses until we had some order in the schedule. The main reason for our closure was that our governor enacted an order that only allowed up to 10 people in a gathering space. There would have been no physical way to push 116 students and dozens of instructors into labs to complete them with those restrictions.
We spent the following months at home. I spent my days establishing a new routine, working around the house, building a better workspace, and working on myself as much as I could. At least in the beginning. My office got a makeover, my dogs were absolutely thrilled at all this mom-time, and I made a home gym in the basement that kept me occupied and diligent at my self care.
Back to business
Sort of a D2, sort of a D3
Finally June rolled around and after quite some time of radio silence, we had a plan. The governor lifted some restrictions, which allowed 10 people in a room together, and clinic was allowed to reopen. The D4’s needing to finish clinic were allowed to see patients quickly, then prior D3’s were allowed back as well. They soon graduated all remaining D4’s and could focus on us. We were given a couple weeks in June to finish D2 lab work bootcamp-style. There were timeslots a limited number of us could come into the lab for, and finish all assignments. We cranked out what we had left to do and finally passed our courses. We then were allowed to reschedule our denture patient and resume their care as well.
Because of the pandemic, we did not have a white coat ceremony. We saw a patient for our final D2 denture assignment on a wednesday while wearing our D2 blue lab jacket, then the following monday we were told to dress in white coats. It was surreal and I assure you I felt like I was playing dress-up for nearly a month. So finally, 6 months after starting spring semester as a D2, blurring the lines to not passing D2 yet starting D3, it was a confusing time in the realm of self identity.
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Now, normally Creighton takes a 5 week break from July-August, but of course this was now null and void. Although we had never stopped attending classes over the shut-down, the patient schedule was so backed up that we had to resume caring for our community. There were some restrictions at first in the clinic as to where we could sit and what we could/couldn’t do alone for procedures but over time those changed. We went from treating in every-other operatory, to eventually being allowed next door to each other. We all don immense levels of PPE each appointment, which include our professional clothes, a white lab jacket, a plastic surgical smock, glasses/loops with side shields, an N95 with a level 3 mask over the too of it, a hair bonnet (either mesh or fabric), and a face shield. Nevertheless it is worth it in every way to be able to take care of patients and continue with my education as scheduled (even if modified)
Other major changes (or modifications to normal) were that we would only be in school when attending clinic, we would take all of our lecture courses online, and that the 3 half-day sessions that would normally have been reserved for our physical presence in lab, were taken away from us and replaced with 2 extra clinic sessions and one 4-hour time slot to take all of our exams. Yes you heard that right.
So, instead of spending our normal 28 hours a week in clinic, and 12 hours a week in lecture, we were now spending 36 hours a week in clinic, and 4 hours a week taking exams. The evenings which were once reserved for reviewing notes, preparing for quizzes, or studying for exams were now filled with listening to lectures and trying not to fall asleep after 8 hours of chaos in the clinic everyday. What’s more, we also compressed our schedule in order to finish all exams by thanksgiving, as to prepare for another possible shutdown. So, weekends were no longer allowed for any selfcare unless you forfeited some study time, which I most certainly did, but instead used to prepare for exams or catch up on lectures you couldn’t cram in. It was very wearing and taxing to say the least, and in November the school finally relented and allowed us to go back to a 7-session week, just in time for all of us to finish our final exams and breathe a little easier in the clinic. But we prevailed. We finished 3 final weeks in the clinic before Christmas, and in the longest blink of an eye, we were halfway through our D3 year.
D3 fall recap
Now, since there was no creative way to break up that spiel and segway into what we accomplished course-wise during that time, I’ll recap that for you here. Simply breaking down into the D3 courses we completed from May-December, they are…
D3 Fall Courses:
Behavioral Aspects of Patient Care
Radiographic interpretation theory
Community dentistry, field experience
Dental management of complex patients
Endodontic problem solving
Intro to Acute Care
Operative dentistry lecture
Fixed partial dentures lecture
Oral diagnosis and treatment planning clinic
Acute Care clinic
Operative dentistry clinic
Radiographic interpretation clinic
Oral surgery clinic
Removable partial dentures clinic
Fixed prosthodontics clinic
Prosthodontics clinical lab review
Over the course of this time we had:
8 non-clinical competencies
10 homework assignments
63.5 credit hours (31 didactic and 32.5 dental/clinical)
(All performed while attending clinic for 9 sessions a week, learning from home via recorded lectures, attending all of our exams on Friday mornings in back to back fashion, and being our own patient liaisons. Cheers)
Now, rather than go into any depth on explaining each course, because between this semester and all prior we have had some sort of exposure to all of these topics, at least on a more broad perspective, I want to go into detail about a very important factor in this semester’s content: clinic.
Even though we had some prior patient exposure in early years, either taking recalls on fellow students and patients, and taking a denture case, it was nothing compared to what we walked into July 1st.
The first week in July was reserved for orientation. These days were filled with information on scheduling, logistics of running a smooth clinic, grades and expectations, managing conflict, attaining new patients, unassigning patients if needed, and essentially how to survive and pass the semester. But nothing said during those first 3 days would have allowed for a full-fledged cannon bomb about to be made into the clinic pool. We are so (SO) lucky at Creighton to be given the clinical experience that we are. Not to make it seem as though I am complaining, I assure you. The cannon bomb into the clinic is exactly the descriptor I can use to engulf you in the feeling during our first weeks in the clinic, yet I want you to feel it from an exhilarating standpoint. We were prepared, and prepared again, and even given a little extra preparation sprinkled on top but there is never going to be a time when we all would have felt ready to take patients without being forced to do so.
I was very lucky to have been given a full patient family from the start. I didn’t have to spend much time assisting other students when I had an opening in my schedule, and I booked my schedule solid every day. I luckily didn’t experience any repercussions from this, and I was able to accomplish all of my requirements for the semester by the time that deadlines closed, thankfully. But in order for you to understand what this actually entails, I’ll tell you a little bit about how clinics are run.
Managing my first patients
As a clinical student, you are given a patient family, handed down from a student who is 2 classes above you and graduates the moment you enter the clinic. You are responsible for all of the patients on that list, all of their cares in progress, all their treatment plan needs, and all of their future care. As Creighton students, we call, plan, and schedule our own patients. We are given access to phone numbers and all of their charts, and we stay on top of our requirements on our own. There is a care coordinator who you send a request to schedule, they then place them on the schedule book. There is a team leader who monitors your activity from the background and assures you are staying on top of responsibilities, but that is largely it. So long as you keep a busy schedule, keep up with patient care, and have a good family of patients to work with, you will be fine. I cannot speak for anyone else in my class and their assigned patient families, other than my own, but this was my key to success.
Passing clinical requirements
This is public knowledge, so I promise I’m not spilling any secrets, but there is a distinct reason I chose Creighton over the other 3 schools I received acceptances to and you’ll see why in a second. I likely would have chosen Creighton over any acceptance I had ever received otherwise, solely for this reason. I knew that Creighton didn’t have specialty programs, and I knew that clinical requirements were immense. For example, I have friends in other schools who are only required to complete 2-4 canals of endo, whereas I have to complete a minimum of 12 to graduate. I wanted to walk out of creighton with some sort of genuine experience under my belt, and after this first semester in clinic and comparing to other students currently and previously in other dental schools, I am reminded again how thankful I am. Creighton clinic is no joke. We have high expectations, and we have to work hard to meet them, but we have an excellent opportunity if the cards are played right.
In order to pass Junior year of clinic you need to meet many goals. You need a certain number of general dentistry points doing various restorative work, take a certain number of perio appointments and complete perio maintenance and initial perio therapy, complete a number of fixed cases as well as removable prosth cases, complete a certain number of endo canals, gain Relative Value Units to a certain amount which you get from being present in clinic and assisting, and you have to attend blocks in Oral surgery, Acute care, Radiology/assessment, Orthodontics, and Pediatrics. I wont go into the breakdown because its confusing, as some classes have semester requirements and some are 2-year requirements. However, I did thoroughly enjoy my time.
At the beginning of semester I hit the ground running. I rarely went weeks with time slots open, until later in the semester when COVID cases began to spike a second time. At this time point though, I had hit the milestones I needed for RVU’s, GD points, and had made a good dent in the other department requirements that would eventually lead me to a 4.0 for my fall junior requirement grade. Even though I will have plenty of time to make up the rest of my requirements through the next semester, I feel good at where I am thus far.
Clinic ‘Firsts’ and my D3 Fall experience.
This semester I experienced:
My first endo, placing a root canal on a patient and getting them out of the immense pain that it was causing.
My first internal bleaching case was completed, where contents of the access prep and chamber of a previous endo case are removed and replaced with a bleaching material, then temporarily sealed each week. This case was tedious, but very very cool to see its progress and eventual completion.
I completed 36 restorations, including a handful of esthetic restorations on anterior teeth, and have planned some amazing full-mouth makeovers to come.
I took many patients in Acute care, and often volunteered to help out in this department when I had patient cancellations. I was able to perform extractions, make immediate removable prosthetics to get patients through losing anterior teeth, and get many patients out of pain. I even had some friends, and referrals sent in and had the experience of resolving their pain and predicaments.
Time in Oral surgery was generally spent as an assistant, but I did have the chance to perform some extractions of my own as well, and prepare for the semesters ahead where we will be taking over as surgeons.
I completed a case that is genuinely the most heartwarming experiences to date. I walked a patient through coming to terms with a poor dental prognosis, preparing them for surgery, a full mouth extraction, fabricating an interim denture, and experiencing not sorrow but PURE joy as I placed their denture for the first time and gave them a new chance at a full-mouth smile. The patient hadnt seen full teeth in decades, and hadnt chewed normal food in even longer. They cried with joy when seeing their smile again and I cant describe the feeling even now.
I have spent hours in the perio department performing maintenance therapy with perio patients, and getting initial perio therapy started for patients that desperately need it.
I’ve even had the chance to prepare crowns in fixed, fabricate, seat, and restore an implant crown, and prepare my fair share of bleaching trays.
Lastly, Ive spent many many hours on blocks treating emergencies, taking post-ops, taking xrays, running patients for intake for assessment
Im in the process of planning my next few months in clinic and so far seem to hold the same sort of schedule, and I hope that this holds true. Its very surreal to see that I am 5 months away from being labeled a D4, a senior, and only 1.5 years away from carrying the title of Dr.
To say that this year was in any way easy is rubbish. It was hard. I struggled and triumphed, and struggled again, because at the end of the day I am a student first and Sara second, and 2020 truly tossed my non-academic life into the blender on high here for a while.
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Life outside of school, 2020.
The real honest version (apologies in advance)
Last year, 2019, was a year that I thought was pretty tough and took quite some time to mull over. But had I known what 2020 would bring, I would recant every statement ever made about my time. 2020 was a crap shoot for all. Literally not a single human on this planet has not been impacted in some way by the chaos which unfolded on day one, and that just blows my mind. We should all be humbled by that.
Just as this year has impacted every other human on the planet, this last year brought many changes for me. Changed life roles, changes as a person, changes as a friend, change in parent-child dynamic, changes as a wife, changes in my body, and changes in my family.
In May, I was doing my weekly shopping run when I received a terrifying phone call from my elderly father who lives alone a few thousand miles away from me. My father was actively dying. His phone was cutting out, he had trouble hearing and couldn’t explain his whereabouts and circumstances, I lost his call and then he became unreachable and untraceable. This is mid-pandemic, mid-semester, travel restrictions and hospital restrictions in place, and a no-fly order on the table in front of me restricting any military personnel from travel. I spent the better part of the rest of the day assembling every sibling I could reach to help me locate my father. I called every hospital in the region, begged hospital staff to help me, and eventually I found him. What I never expected to also find, was a brother.
When my dad was located, placed in ICU, and eventually stabilized, I also began a friendship with a brother I had met during the chaos. Within days I was reconnected to my oldest sister I had not seen in 15 years. We began meeting regularly (virtually) and assumed group-effort care coordination meetings for my father, and a sort of sibling therapy session together each week. This was alot to wrap my head around, but also exactly what I needed.
While my father grew slightly better each day, the rest is private to disclosure, but monumentally changed my character this last year. Care coordination is still a daily mental task. Assuming a role reversal between parent and child is psychologically taxing, awkward, uncomfortable, and generally a ridiculous battle. But, I assume this is a part of life. It may not always happen to everyone at year 29, but one day the caregiver roll will likely be assigned to every child whether we like it or not. Now we help my dad get through each day, attempt all measures to keep him safe, fight the battles needing fought, and allow the battles that are pointless to slip by. Life continues to go on.
The situation with my dad is still ongoing, but another very difficult time in our family occurred in July when my older sister had an accident which left her with many severe injuries, unable to walk, multiple surgeries, a couple hospital stays, and a direct loss that shook our family to the core. With a broken leg, dislocated knee, and severe tears/severs, she sat at home being cared for by our family members in her area. She is the smartest human I know, and the sweetest human I know. As much pain as she was in, and as much help as she required, she refused to complain. I stayed in contact daily and worried about her every minuet. However within a few short weeks we were all shaken again as a situation occurred placing her in a physical rehabilitation hospital where she gained care for a few weeks alternatively.
On Election Day she sat in this hospital as she notified each family member that her life-partner, our Brad, had passed away. We were crushed by my sister’s accident, the handling of her case, and the circumstances she faced living in a remote area of Wyoming so far away from us, and now enduring this loss. We all lost Brad. We all felt Robbie’s injury. I never want to relive hearing either story, or trying to recover from either incident mentally. I never want to attend another funeral through my computer screen. Losing someone is disgusting, difficult, uncomfortable, and unfair. We miss Brad so very, very much and wish we had him back every day. My sister is now safe with me and recovering.
We stopped counting.
In the midst of it all, and with respect of privacy for all, a vague description of what’s left to come. Another dear family member had a stroke, a heart attack, a car accident, and a diagnosis of cancer. Another close family member was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that impacts their daily life immensely. Another relative suffered detached retinas, terrifyingly. Another cornerstone family member was hospitalized with a back fracture, and called me and asked me directly not to ‘pray them back’ when God begins his calling.
With my family seemingly to crumble around me, hours each week dedicated to care coordination, a pandemic surrounding every move and decision I make, no breaks from school, a more extreme and relentless clinic schedule, loss of study time and time for myself, a patient family that required hours aside for scheduling, education, connection, and many many hours of phone calls that always seemed to come the exact moment I sat down to begin studying. I spent the year looking no further than the day ahead of me. By and by we made it through a year in hell, sparing no semantics on my feelings toward it. I don’t think we ever fully recover from a year like this but we are doing the best we can.
The bright side (maybe?)
I’m no positive nancy when it comes to setbacks, but if there’s one thing I have learned in the past year it’s how to use self talk and goals to work through adversity.
So, even in the midst of a terrible year, I have been working on finding the good that is hidden in the forest of any adversity, and yes there always is some. I have already written a blog, to be released next week, that details my goals for 2020. But in order to structure my goals for the year I needed to form their foundation. And the foundation for each lies in certain circumstances that came about in some way during 2020, that also brought with it a silver lining I intend to grow from.
The silver linings:
Had not my father been ill, I likely wouldn’t have met my brother. We spent hours, literally, on the phone each week working out the details of his care and life. We also connected and I learned about an entirely different side of my father I never knew about. Hadn’t I met my brother, I wouldn’t have reconnected with my oldest sister, and spent hours re-learning everything about her and becoming friends again.
When we all went into lockdown, and when my other older sister broke her leg, we had hours of virtual game nights via zoom, and I spent more time with my sister and Brad in those weeks than we would normally get in a year. We laughed so hard, so much, and I truly cherish having that time, especially with it being some of our last moments with Brad.
Later, hadn’t Brad passed away, my sister wouldn’t have come to live with me. I got time with my sister that we never had as children due to our age difference, and being pegged against each other our entire childhoods. She wouldn’t be getting the better care that she’s receiving here witn Nebraska doctors, and her recovery most certainly would have been delayed and compromised. I wish for different circumstances, I wish so much that none of this had ever happened, but at the same time I have to find the good because there is good in all. I am still thankful and know I will always be thankful for this time.
Becoming a better practitioner
Essentially becoming the parent to my parent was something I didn’t want to come to terms with, but made me very thankful for my background in nursing and actually helped me alot. To care for my dad, I had to very quickly learn the inner workings of medicare and medicaid, and I spent a lot of time looking into community resources. After finding out what resources my dad could use I also found out there are tons of community resources here to help my patients with dental care as well. There are systems and assistance programs for helping to cover treatments, get medical help they needed beyond what I could help them with, get them help covering prescriptions and finding alternative pharmacies that cover drugs with better rates. I found methods of using alternative systems to identify contraindications in their medical/pharmacological therapies and even in dental care, and even help getting to and from appointments with transportation assistance. Had I not been helping my dad find these resources, I likely would not have known about them prior to starting clinic and actually utilizing them on a near daily basis.
Taking my own health more seriously
The one that really kicked my butt into self discipline gear.
I started 2020 thinking, as I always had, that I had no significant family medical history. Turns out when you have many family members who do not believe in modern medicine, fail to care about receiving regular medical checkups, or have family members you have not talked to in ages, you really don’t know your family medical history. I am so much more aware of my health history after this year and you better believe I am paying close attention to my body. I now know I am predisposed to a plethora of debilitating illnesses and I will do everything in my power to fuel my body with the right foods, move my body in the right ways, and treat my body like a temple rather than a 24-hour diner trash can,
I do care about my health, I care very much about living a full and healthy life, but caring about it and actually doing something about it are two different things. I have taken care of too many sick, injured, and impaired persons over the course of my life to turn a blind eye to my own fortunes of a healthy body.
I’ve taken steps in the right direction through 2020 by hiring and keeping a personal trainer for the majority of the year, maintaining 4-6 active days per week, taking steps toward furthering my knowledge in nutritional medicine, and am now working with a trainer and nutritional coach that’s literally turned my life around. Though I would like to say I would have found my momentum on my own without these experiences, I can’t be certain. Though I can be certain that I refuse to let myself be the one being cared for anytime in the near future if there is anything I can do about it, and I can be thankful for this every day.
Taking my impact on the world more seriously
2020 genuinely changed our world. It exposed all of the nasty underlying of ours and our neighbors characters, the facade of societal norms we had been taught in the US, and for me it personally exposed the role I needed to actively pursue as a human who has a direct impact on the world.
This is now an argument I regularly have, and I often feel like I am the only person on this planet who gives a shake about how I impact the world, and it is a genuine fight. However I am certainly not alone. Every human that eats, breaths, sleeps, and lives in any capacity makes an impact on their surroundings at all times during every minuet they are alive. It’s become a permanent fixture in my head to wonder about how my life functions around my impact, and how I can potentially change it. Hadn’t this pandemic made many of us stop and stare, work through adversity, and take a nice hard look in the mirror, I don’t know what else would.
In all of my thought, and obsession with this I have made it a priority to think of my actions in these three categories of impact, and make steps toward bettering my future and building upon them. For now I am working on understanding and standing for my beliefs, and shaping my beliefs around facts instead of fiction. I am focusing on being conscious of my purchases (food, clothing, household items, etc) how they are sourced, and how I can drive production based on these purchases. And lastly, controlling my access and accessibility and fostering only genuine relationships with those around me. All three are and incredibly small step in the right direction but something I am committed on doing and growing upon. And for these things I am happy that 2020 gave me the exposure I needed to start seeing the world beyond the facade.
The grand Finale
There was nothing simple or smooth about this year. D2 came in engines blaring, a pandemic hit in the belly of midterms and clinic preparation. Sure, being home-schooled relieved a little burden from lab work, but taking full time classes from home and managing a growing family responsibility every day was difficult. When clinic started we were underprepared and overwhelmed with responsibility, yet had to walk into clinic with our heads up and shoulders back for those first few months. We ran full steam ahead when our study time was replaced by clinic sessions, and our lecture load was increased. We didnt complain when we lost summer break, then fall break, then a portion of our christmas break was taken back too. All the while battling balance of a home life, personal care, sleep, exercise, friends, family, and those special patients that like to call on Saturday night and be reassured that their care will go smoothly.
This year was one for the books. The kind of book youd like to just burn.
But in the end I look back and see that I spent a hell of alot of time prior to this year, wasting away in self doubt and self pity. I found that I can actually manage all of those things at once and still walk tall. I found that I actually could balance all of those things listed and even more. I could still get all of my work done each week, tackle family care and conference, workout, eat healthy, have time for self care, make time for friends if even for a momentary glass of wine on a Zoom hangout. This past year may not have been a top 5 most enjoyable, but it was a top of the list year for personal growth. And just for that, I choose to be thankful.
Thank you, so much for being one of my friends, followers, and avid readers. Your support means the world to me.
If you are here for the first time, or here to browse dental topics, make sure you check out my previous recaps of prior dental school semesters! You can read all about my:
D1 Fall, here:
D1 Spring, here:
D2 Fall, here:
I have also m=written many other pieces on the musings of my life, podcasts I enjoy, cocktails I’ve shaken up bayside, and topics I enjoy researching and sharing. Theres plenty here to see!
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Im so lucky to have you as part of the fam, and can’t wait to see you next time!