Hey friends, thanks for tuning in with Dental Pathways. In this blog, I will share what to expect when you start a DDS program. These are general events that most schools arrange for their incoming students; however, every school has its peculiarities and it may differ from what I share in this blog.
Access: Schools will arrange for you to get your ID cards at their student offices. This ID card will be used to access clinic and laboratory entrances. Sometimes you need these for student lounges and classrooms.
Email: By this time, you must have received your institutional email address. Your faculty and student affairs body of the school will mainly communicate with you through this email address. It will be a nice idea to bookmark this email link on your internet browser for convenience.
Institute Learning Portal: Each institute has its own portal through which they share details about your curriculum. The schedule for clinics, rotation, exams, and lectures will be available for you to visit on this portal. The names of these differ from school to school. These are extremely important to learn and navigate through as you will visit this throughout your DDS.
Campus Tour: At the start of your program, the administration will arrange a tour of the different clinics, student lounges, laboratories, etc. It will be a good idea to inquire about campus transportation to these different facilities from your home. Most campuses provide their learners with in-house campus transportation services and have this information available on their apps.
Operating System: Each institution uses a different software system for their clinic. Take advice for easy navigation through this overwhelming-looking software from a senior class or IT personnel. Sometimes a simple internet search or YouTube videos will give you many insights into everyday operations.
Dental Instruments: In the first few weeks of starting school, you will receive several boxes full of dental instruments. These usually include restorative, prosthodontic, endodontic, periodontic, and handpiece cassettes. You will also be provided with bur blocks, impression dispensers, several materials used in the clinics, and articulators. It is a good idea to buy instrument carriers or organizers to arrange these numerous instruments because it’s going to get chaotic very soon as you will start simulation laboratory exercises!
Scrubs: Some schools provide their learners with scrubs. These are usually standard colors decided by the school. You will be asked to choose a size for your scrubs, laboratory coat, and white coat for the upcoming white coat ceremony! How exciting! In my personal experience, it is a good idea to have at least 5 pairs of scrubs or workwear so you can get through without having to do laundry in the middle of the week. If you live in a colder climate, you might also need an undershirt or a jacket.
Electronic Gadgets: Some schools provide their learners with a laptop or iPad for their use. On the schools website, you can also find a configuration of a laptop if you decide to skip buying it from school and use your own laptop. If you decide to use your own, check on your student portal and remember to deduct the cost of the gadget you didn’t purchase! Usually, an IT personnel will help you install all the required softwares on your laptop.
Insurance: Obtaining health insurance is mandatory for students. If you have your own health insurance coverage, you can waive the insurance provided through your institution. It can save you several hundred dollars each quarter or semester. If you’re obtaining health insurance coverage through school, you will be asked to pay an additional premium that will be a part of your tuition every quarter or semester. The benefit of being insured through your institution is that everything is in sync. For example, if you take any vaccines, it will be updated in your profile faster than when you take health related services from outside.
These are just some examples of how the first few weeks of DDS will start off. Prepare yourself for an extremely busy first 2-3 months of your program. And I know you got this! Try to be as organized as possible and plan your meals and workouts. Managing your nutrition and workout will instantly put you in a comfortable place when those long hours will hit.
I wish you the best of luck and a successful time during this dream program of yours! It will surely fly by fast.
Dr. Apurva Dabak, BDS, MPH, DDS Candidate 2023
UCSF School of Dentistry | UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Founder of Dental Pathways and Meira_shine from within Brand