Saturday, December 5, 2009



Too many finals. Too little time. Terrible time to have a birthday. I hope each and one of you find time for yourselves, no matter how busy you are. Just stop whatever you are doing, stretch, take a deep breath, and tell yourself that you've done this many times before. And just as all those times, you will be just fine.

On a personal note, thank you everyone that came out for my short birthday get together. Means the world to me. Ok! Enough slacking! Get back to work! You don't wanna fail, do you??!!!

-Because I can.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fighting virtual windmills...


What makes you stay afloat and energized? What drives you to be who you are and to stay the course? Often we become so involved in simply staying afloat that we forget to see where the currents take us. One of the advantages and disadvantages of UCSF is its wide diversity within the student body. Albeit receiving a highly beneficial life experience, we, as a class, still stratify ourselves into "Clicks". Be it by background, location, ethnicity, or all of the above, we are drawn into groups of people we associate with and become friends within those groups. Such social inbreeding is far from unique and is inherent to life in general. Perhaps the point I am trying to make is a bit far fetched, but while I consider myself extremely lucky to be friends with the people that I am friends with, I wonder if I limit my understanding of people with other opinions and outlooks on the world. Something to think about.

Short post today, as the Finals season is upon us. As you noticed, the daily cartoon is above. This time an inside joke to the UCSF class of 2012.

-Because I can.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

UC light at the end of the tunnel?


Education at a public institution can be like driving a pre-owned Geo Metro - great ride for how much you spend, but you really don't know if you will make it home from the dealership.
I found out today that someone I admired greatly, who, in part, drew me to this school, and who, to my great joy, was going to take over my PhD program, is in fact leaving for NYU. Yes, ladies and gents, according to several highly informed classmates of mine, Dr. Brian Schmidt DDS MD PhD FACS will most likely leave UCSF for NYU, where he will take over the OMFS program. Although not officially confirmed by any of the faculty or staff, my sources are "solid".
While saddened, I understand this choice made. Heading a whole residency program is a big step in one's academic carrier. If unmatched, I would take this opportunity as well. My sources further state that Dr. Schmidt was recruited by none other than Dr. Bertolami, the past Dean for SOD. A great loss to UCSF and a tremendous gain to NYU. As for the PhD program, I am staying the course no matter the weather.

Another great thing that disturbs me about some of the universities policies is the presence of homeless people in the library. Studying on the 3rd floor of the Kalmanovitz Library today, I witnessed at least 7 of such individuals snoring with their shoes off and pungent socks exposed for our pleasure; pushing strollers (yes!) full of their lively belongings; talking to themselves; walking aimlessly around the study tables; and coughing profusely, roaring up the entire floor. I understand that it's cold out, but the Kalmanovitz library is not a shelter for the homeless, it is an educational medical library for future health care professionals. It makes no sense to me to read signs like "No Food Allowed" or "Due to recent laptop and purse thefts..." when those people are allowed to do for what in other university libraries one would be thrown out of. And don't get me started on the needles I found in the bathrooms. I had to leave the library because I didn't want to catch the flu and couldn't concentrate on my notes due to the snoring and coughing all around me. These should not be the reasons to leave the school library for a stressed doctoral student.

Perhaps instead of implementing such genius ideas as closing the library on a Saturday, UCSF will actually implement something conducive to an education?

-Because I can.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remember that one time in high school....

UCSF being a professional school, I expect a certain level of maturity from my classmates. Granted, I don't always act my own age, but it's usually limited to "what she said" jokes and occasional G-rated prank. However, what happened today made me question the professionalism of several of my classmates.
As a preface in a nutshell, we had an operative test case today and one of the students allegedly started a very basic procedure ahead of time, thus gaining an unfair advantage (placed the rubber dam before hand). Then, about 5 hours after, an anonymous post was made on the E-commons of our school website. The post accused the student of the aforementioned and proceeded to bash that student in front of the entire school. Some other people joined, also anonymously, and used the opportunity to tell the world how much they dislike the student in question. All of this prompted me to write a post defending the student. In my opinion, the situation could be handled in a private manner and in much better taste. After hanging to dry for about 3 hrs, the thread was removed by an instructor.
But then the student in question wrote an email back to the class and instructors. I wish he/she hadn't. Not only was that email not needed, but it was some of the most incoherent and unpleasant collections of words I've ever read. Some of the "defenses" used by the student were that he/she "only hangs out with the Mormons and two other girls". If this smells offensive, it's because it is. Then, after about 7 paragraphs of babble about how he/she is so much better than the rest of the class in everything and use of some offensive language, I began to wonder if I jumped the gun about my defense. Obviously, no, I still stand by my opinion. But the student in question definitely dug him/herself deep with that email.
This is dental school right? Not high school, not The Real World San Francisco. About time people act like it.

-Because I can.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello everyone,

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was outstanding. Every time I fly back home (Oklahoma), it seems I go back in time - to a place of slow and quiet life of a small town. This Thanksgiving was a special one for me. I learned a new value of family and time given to us on this planet. I found out that my little brother is 16 - a whole grown person who is not just my brother, but also my friend. I found out the value of differential diagnosis. Finally, I found out that the emergency seating on the aiplane is the most comfortable seat EVER.

Then I get back and face the grind... And what a better way to be thrown back into the grind than a lovely morning to setting teeth in Prostho. An hour and 10 minutes after a "short" lecture, which further confused the hell out of me, I proceeded to set. 15 wax burns later I was told to redo half of it, due to something I missed the previous lecture. Lovely. The time on the clock was 11:40, and I went to find the professor who critiqued my work. To my dismay he/she had already left for lunch. I can be very understanding and lenient when it comes to many things. One thing I DO NOT take well, is people cutting corners at my expense. If we (the students) are expected to be in the class until 12, then I expect the instructors to be there as well!

The afternoon was spent on a fishing expedition to find a cool case to assist. After a classmate beat me to an extraction, I settled on assisting an Endo case. Turns out, I lucked out big time, as the D4 I assisted was very helpful and informative. the whole case was exceptionally educational and I'm actually looking forward to Endo next quarter.

Alright, I kinda have finals next week, so I guess I'll get to studying.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Full of turkey and all Xbox'ed out with my brother - it's good to be home. Finally was able to submit the Eportfolio (read earlier posts about my woes with it).

Now I'm bored, laying in bed thinking of class II preps. So I found this video. I have a couple of problems with the lingual and facial extensions of the box prep, as later resulted in a weird restorative techniques...I bet that composite is all kinda bulky towards the gingival interproximal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-turkey pokey

Nothing builds comradeship like local anesthesia. Truly, there is nothing that can describe a feeling, when you lie in that chair with a gaping mouth as your friend (who you owe money) stares at you with a shining 25 gauge needle. Today the feelings were even stronger, as we were graded for our competency exam (CE). The task was actually quite simple - IA, Lingual, and LB blocks. Easy as pie. You'd think. But then you factor in hitting the bone prematurely and positive aspirations, and Axium, which crashed on me, as usual, and the CE turned out to be quite a labor intensive hustle. Ultimate outcome of this ordeal - I can now perform local anesth on patients in the clinic - scary thought.
The afternoon was as mellow as a pre-holiday afternoon can be. After yet another before-after clinical scenario from what I call "true life series" by the instructor, we were told to make a direct composite restoration on #8...or was it #9... Here's where i began to wonder. We are taught that composite restorations are easy to place/adjust, require less time (single appointment) but are less durable and stain resistant than porcelain veneers. But how much so? Believe it or not, I actually liked the look of the composite over the veneer. Plus, factoring in overhead and chair time, composites are a LOT more profitable. In my opinion, when restoring a single anterior tooth, it's much more efficient to do a composite.
Anyway, I'd love to rant more, but it's close to midnight, I have a flight home tomorrow, and I haven't even begun considering packing.

-Because I can.
As I took my Anesthesia CE, a classic by Cosby came to mind.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To be a dentist, one has to pay dues along the path towards those three capital letters. One form in which these dues come is full removable prosthodontics, more specifically full dentures. There are lots of things, which I enjoy in life (great sunrise, ice cream, FVC prep on # 3, etc. However, setting teeth is NOT one of them. Thus, my Tuesday mornings are not the best of times.
To aid the already wonderful day, which thus far consisted of waking up 15 min before class starts (also known as afro day, referring to my cranial pelage), forgetting to mount my mandibular model cast, only 3 instructors were present, instead of the usual 7. To put this into perspective, there are 85 of us, and none know what the heck we are doing. The scenery reminded me of a bird mating ritual, as 30 some students attempted to gather attention of a row instructor to review their work.
Finally getting through a half-assed job of setting a full Max arch, I packed my things and headed to the end-of-the-quarter PhD journal club meeting, which was more of a "how you doing" meeting. As the current program director is retiring and passing on the torch to someone else, the T32 NIH grant expiring at the end of year, and a major revamping of the curriculum, I stand with little more than a somewhat clear idea what my research project will be. I still have no idea how I am going to fit in my 3rd and final lab rotation while basically working full time in the clinic, not to mention the grad courses, which start next year as well. All I can do now, though, is to keep seeing the big picture - no matter what, I will graduate...eventually.

On this note, I bid you adieu until tomorrow.

-Because I can.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If dental school could be described with only ten words, two of them would have to be "busy work". I've been at UCSF for over a year now, but it still hasn't stopped surprising me with new ways to waste my time and cause further delay in studying for the boards. This time, as a special pre-Thanksgiving treat, the school has graced us with an E-portfolio assignment.
For those lucky few who still haven't (or never will) experience it, let me give you a brief overview of what that tedious process entails. One gets assigned a restorative procedure, say an MO composite on #19. The task is then to record every tiny detail of that procedure with pictures and submit it in a Powerpoint presentation. So, for the 37th time, I need to explicitly state that I indeed understand the principles of a prep design...instead of doing that I'm blogging.

Until later,

Ever since I was five there was something weird about me. I wanted to be a dentist. While all of the other kids dreamed of space ships and ninja turtles...I did too. Except I also wanted to be a dentist. Don't you find it weird? Well I do. Anyway.
The purpose of this blog is to guide you through what is feels like to be in a dental school. What it feels like to be 22, single, living in a big city where you didn't grow up, surrounded by classmates with whom by the work of fate you have to share every aspect of your life, and who inadvertently become your closest friends.
Another purpose of this blog is to inform you, the future dental student, of what it feels like to be in the grind. Thus, should you have any questions, concerns, comments, or senseless accusations, please, do comment! I'll reply as soon as humanly possible (and trust me, I've grown to stretch the boundaries of that term beyond imaginable).

I will try to post daily, or thereabouts, so keep your wits about ya and keep up ;)