The following guest post is from Tyler Willis, founder of Tyler Willis Content Consulting. An accomplished writer and editor, Tyler engages with clients from many industries including higher education, technology and healthcare to produce professional quality content that appears in magazines, online news and blogs.
For students preparing for a career in the dental industry, September is a exciting month. As that delicious nip of fall enters the air, the new semester brings new classes, new challenges, and new opportunities for growth.
Studying to become a dental professional can be incredibly rewarding, but I don’t think anyone who has been through the process would say that it is easy. Dental programs are designed to be extremely demanding, but there are ways to make things easier for yourself.
Here are four tips that can help you head into this school year prepared for success and focused on mastering the skills you need.
1. Plan Ahead
The best way to succeed in dentistry school is to plan so that you are prepared for the rigours of the coming months instead of finding yourself panicking as the end of the semester closes in. Pace yourself, make sure you understand the material and adopt a proactive attitude to learning.
Here are a few areas you can focus on to ensure that you succeed in dentistry school:
- Manage your time – Mastering the skill of time management is crucial to keeping on top of your assignments and studies while also balancing your personal life and other responsibilities. Keep a calendar noting when all of your assignments are due and the time and location for every quiz, exam, personal appointment, etc. so that you arrive on time.
- Set some time aside for yourself – This often-overlooked tip is key. Don’t drop all of your social engagements or hobbies just because you’re studying. Make time for yourself to avoid burnout.
- Always be professional – You are about to embark on a career in patient care, and the sooner you learn how to conduct yourself in a professional manner, the better your prospects will look. Dentistry school is also the perfect time to start building networking connections. Trust me, they will last your entire career.
- Keep your body in shape – This is an easy one to let slide, especially during exam crunch time. But it’s important to get a good night’s sleep and keep fit. Keeping your body healthy will keep your mind sharp and help you succeed.
This video that shares more good advice for first year students in dental programs.
2. Gain As Much Knowledge As Possible
Dentistry students get a lot of information thrown at them and, when you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to wonder when you’ll actually need to know all this.
The reality is that since you will be running or participating in a business in addition to being a clinician, you don’t just need to know about your own role. You will also need to co-ordinate with team members that have a variety of different skills. As I mentioned in a previous blog, succeeding in dentistry often means adopting new approaches, mastering new software solutions and using cross training techniques to get the most from yourself and your team. Soaking up as much knowledge as you can while in dentistry school, even if it doesn’t seem immediately applicable to your desired role, will stand you in good stead once you are in the workplace.
3. Prepare for a Career in the Real World
Dentistry has changed a lot in the past twenty years, and being part of a dental team involves understanding a lot more than just teeth. In addition to covering standard tools of the trade like scalers, molds and tofflemires, your instructors will talk about practice management and people skills.
Take advantage of these education opportunities to learn more about industry-specific topics like the role dental software plays in the modern clinic. The specific features of the software will give you a good indication of what is important to track and monitor to run a successful practice so that you are better prepared when you graduate. Remember, successful dental professionals wear a lot of different hats and maintaining an approach to your studies that is focused on preparing yourself for the actual industry will stand you in good stead when you are interviewing for your first job in the field.
4. Don’t Neglect Your Own Health
Let’s face it: if higher education is stressful, advanced study in the healthcare sciences is doubly so. And one of the unfortunate by-products of all this stress is that students often don’t take adequate care of themselves, even as they are learning about the importance of regular check-ups for public health.
When studying to be a dental professional, make sure to regularly book appointments with your own healthcare providers so you can keep healthy throughout the school year. Remember, you can’t take care of others if you are neglecting your own health! You’ll also get a better idea of what approach you will adopt when dealing with patients based on your own experience as a patient.
Many of the healthcare professionals I talk to look back on their university or college years with a sense of fondness for the good times – and a general feeling of relief that they made the grade.
Whether you love the student life or can’t wait to start practicing your profession, it is important to get the most out of your school experience. After all, these years can set you up for a long and successful career in the world of dentistry!