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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Tag Archives: dsd

I didn’t think anybody still read this blog, but more than once over the past year I’ve learned that some D1 at UCSF knows me from here. So I feel some kind of professional obligation to at least update it with some dental school insights. I remember as a pre-dent who used to follow several blogs by dental students, I would get frustrated that their posts would become increasingly sparse over time. Now I understand how hard it is to find the time and energy to do ANYTHING, much less keep up with a blog, when you’re in clinic.

The transition into my clinical years of dental school was not an easy one. In fact, it was probably one of the hardest times I’ve ever had to go through in life so far. I shared my thoughts about this in a lengthy Facebook post earlier this year, which was met with tremendous support. I will share it here:

“As I’m about to began my final year of dental school, I want to share something about my experience with clinic this past year. This message is especially for the incoming D3’s who are about to enter clinic. Some of you will be instantly awesome at clinic, and some of you will struggle. I was one of those who struggled last year, and I struggled hard. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing poorly in school. More than that, for the first time in my life, I was not enjoying school. What happened? I wondered to myself. I loved the first 2 years of dental school and felt like I was prepared, but now that I was in clinic, everything felt 100 times harder. The amount of paperwork and administrative stuff was overwhelming, and I felt like for the first time, the amount of success I was getting was not directly correlated with the amount of effort I put in. I look around and see a lot of my classmates excelling, some already doing their third crown and 7th filling when I was still struggling to get patients in my chair. I hear them tell me how much they loved clinic, how much better it was than simlab, but I could not relate at all. I wished so desperately that I felt the same way, but I didn’t. I woke up every day dreading the thought of having to get out of bed to go to clinic. I had so much anxiety about everything clinic-related. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I lost count of the number of times I cried. I began to seriously doubt my decision to go into dentistry, then felt immense guilt over the thought because I, and more importantly, my family and loved ones, have already invested so much time, energy, and money to get me this far. Just weeks ago I was presented with an award at our clinic induction ceremony, and now I felt like a fraud, like any day now they are going to realize that they’ve made a terrible mistake. Things got so bad that I even sought professional help. Over time though, things started to get better, slowly. Fall quarter was still hard, and it wasn’t really until winter that I finally started feeling more comfortable in clinic. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely still tough days (see my post about my last day of D3 as an example), but now things are so much better than they were a year ago. And from speaking with classmates over the past year, I now know that I wasn’t the only one who had felt this way at the beginning of clinic. But we so often only share stories of our successes and don’t hear about the struggles. So I want to put this out there for all the D3’s: if you ever feel any of the feelings I described above, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal. Don’t give up. If you don’t immediately fall in love with clinic, it doesn’t make you any less of a great future dentist. The transition to clinic is not easy for everyone, and it’s ok to struggle. If you do find yourself struggling, please talk to someone, a classmate, a friend, a family member, a mental health professional. And I will be more than happy to listen too, so feel free to reach out any time. And remember, as you begin to take care of patients, to take care of yourself. We’re all in this together.”

So many of my classmates told me that they felt the same emotions and went through the same struggles as me. So many of the incoming D3’s told me how thankful they were for publicly sharing my thoughts. The truth is, dental school is really, really hard. Caring for patients is an enormous responsibility. It’s completely okay, even normal, to struggle through this transition. But it is also true that I sometimes felt very alone in my struggles last year. That’s part of why I shared my experience, so that others can feel less alone. Mental health is so important, especially for health professional students, and the more candid conversations we can have about it, the better things will be for everyone.

Despite my initial struggles in clinic, third year of dental school was also full of rewards. So moving on to happier things, here are some of the highlights of D3 year in photos!

My clinic partner Kathleen and I at our clinic induction ceremony! We might be smiling but I was definitely internally panicking about actually having to treat patients. It’s so important to have a good support system in dental school and I’m so fortunate to have an amazing clinic partner by my side!

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My big and beautiful Delta Sigma Delta family at the initiation dinner last year:

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Once again, support system!

Me and my wonderful D2 assistant Wendy at Give Kids a Smile Day this year:

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Joining ADEA (American Dental Education Association) at UCSF and exploring my interest in academia is one of the best decisions I made in dental school. This year, I went to the ADEA Annual Session in Denver with a large group of UCSF students and faculty. Here are some lovely members of the UCSF student delegation:

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I also participated in the ADEA Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program this past year, and as a part of it I conducted a research project on dental students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with faculty diversity. Here I am presenting my research poster with my incredible mentor, Dr. Gwen Essex:

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I was also honored to receive one of two ADEA/Crest Oral-B Laboratories Scholarship for Predoctoral Dental Students Pursuing Academic Careers:

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I’m so glad for the opportunity to attend the conference this year, which left me feeling inspired and grateful and made me realize 2 things: 1) that dentistry is so much bigger than what you experience at your dental school, and 2) we truly are surrounded by the most brilliant and supportive faculty and students at UCSF. A word of advice to all dental students out there, if you ever have the chance to attend meetings and conferences on a national/international level, do it. There are so many opportunities out there: ADEA, ASDA, AADR/IADR, etc. Don’t worry about missing classes or clinic or exams, those things will seem so inconsequential in the future. But the experiences you gain, the people you meet, and the things you learn at these meetings will stay with you for far longer.

Here’s a photo of some of my wonderful classmates in my clinic coaching group, with our coach Dr. Shek:

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I feel so lucky to be in my coaching group. Everyone in my group is so nice and helpful and supportive and funny that it’s one of the things that make me look forward to coming to clinic every day.

I had the privilege to attend the annual UCSF Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) convocation dinner again this year as a scholarship recipient. Here I am with my Delts big sib Jenny, who has been a role model and inspiration for me since day 1:

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And with my amazing classmates/fellow scholarship recipients:

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And lastly, I volunteered for and attended the class of 2016 graduation this past June. It was my first time attending dental school graduation, and I got strangely emotional (right when pomp and circumstance started playing and the grads walked in). I think was partly because I got to see that all the hard work finally paying off, and also because – gasp – this will be me next year. Here I am with Matt, Delts fam and maker of the most wonderful review notes that I would not have been able to survive dental school without, and his adorable baby daughter.

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As I’m writing this, there are 266 days left until my own graduation. Still a lot to accomplish before the big day, but onward and upward!

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I’m solidly into my D3 year now, but I guess it’s never too late to share some tidbits and highlights from D2 year at UCSF!

Presenting my poster for my summer research project at UCSF Research and Clinical Excellence Day 2014. It was my first poster presentation ever! Had a really great experience.

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My dental frat family at the annual Delta Sigma Delta initiation dinner! We welcomed 4 new D1’s into the family. We’re a good looking bunch if I do say so myself.

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Fun girls night in with classmates. We cooked fresh mussels that were harvested illegally on Ocean Beach earlier that day!

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Group photo after doing dental education, screenings, and fluoride varnish applications at an elementary school in the Mission. For one of our classes last year, we went on 3 outreach events like this. Very rewarding even though we had to get up very early those days.

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Halloween last year! A classmate and I dressed up as Kevin and Russell from the movie Up!

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One of the best things I did last year was to join the board of ADEA (American Dental Education Association) at UCSF. I got to be a part of an amazing group of people and we put together so many great events. Here’s our board photo last year.

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And here we are again at the annual High School Outreach Conference!

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The theme of the conference last year was social media and we had this Instagram photo frame for the participants (and us) to take photos with!

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Another student group I’m a part of at UCSF is the Chinese Health Professional Students Association (CHPSA). Here’s the board at the annual Chinese New Year celebration!

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PaintNite with dental school friends!

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Delta Sigma Delta family dinner!

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CHPSA dental outreach event in Chinatown!

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Last year I had the honor of receiving a Craig Memorial Scholarship from Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU), the national dental honor society. Here I am with 2 of the other scholarship recipients in my class at the convocation dinner at the Cliff House.

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And one more DSD photo: me with my big and little at senior dinner:

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D2 year was definitely the best year in dental school! Not as much work as D1 year, much more free time, and before the stresses of clinic!

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It’s been a few weeks since D1 year ended and I think I’m finally ready to blog about it! The last quarter of the year was not an easy one but there were also plenty of fun moments.

In the beginning of May we had the annual DSD senior dinner, this year on a boat cruise around the bay!

Me and my amazing big sib Jenny:

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D1 Delts!

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It was such a fun night and the view of the city across the waters was beautiful. It’s really nice to have some of these moments to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a gorgeous city like San Francisco, to go to one of the best dental schools in the country, and to have met such incredible people here.

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My friend Kathleen and I participated in the UCSF Science & Health Education Partnership this past year, where we went to kindergarten classes and taught the students science and health lessons in the past 2 quarters. Even though it was exhausting at times, it turned out to be a really great experience. We got these really cute thank you books from one of the classes after our final lesson (the students had wrote about what they learned from us, accompanied by some very creative illustrations).

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As a member of the dental arm of the Chinese Health Professional Student Association, I volunteered for our very first dental outreach event in Chinatown this past quarter. We did screenings, exams, and fluoride varnish on a lot of the underserved population in the area. I was nervous about doing anything on an actual person who’s not a classmate, but I did just fine and it was such a rewarding feeling afterwards knowing that I even helped make the smallest difference in someone’s health. I can’t wait to help grow the outreach part of the organization even more next year!

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Now, for some real dentistry (on fake teeth)! Gold full veneer crown on tooth #3:

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Class II composite filling on tooth #30:

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Gold onlay prep on tooth #30:

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Finally, the last day of D1 year. It was a gorgeous SF day and we were so ready to celebrate after our last final. But first, we had to take a photo! This group of crazy kids kept me sane this year.

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Celebratory drinks at Noir Lounge after a delicious dinner at Mazzat. Me with Kathleen and MyChi, my awesome clinic partners and wonderful friends.

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After that we went to have dessert at Candybar. Can’t go wrong with food, drinks, followed by more food!

D1 year had been a total roller-coaster of a year, but at the end of it I’m really happy with everything: the knowledge and skills I learned, the people I met, and the new person I’ve grown into. OF course, I couldn’t have done any of it without the incredible support from my parents, my love Yufei, my new friends at school, and the faculty members at UCSF who gave their time to help me learn. I am full of gratitude as I reflect back on these past 9 months, and I’m eagerly looking forward to continuing this journey in D2 year.

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Ever since I started following Erica’s blog as a pre-dent, I’ve always wanted to make her super cute tooth-shaped cupcakes. Finally, I found the perfect occasion for making them earlier this quarter, when my fraternity, Delta Sigma Delta, held their annual Rent-a-Dent auction. I made a trial batch of 3 before the auction just to make sure it was actually doable.

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I used pink lemonade cake mix for these and it was delicious. I made some changes for the final batch, like making the cake crumble mixture finer and adding some red food coloring to the cake batter to make the color more pink and less orange.

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These take a lot of work but the end product is pretty awesome, don’t you think? The D4 who won the cupcakes was pretty impressed!

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I can’t believe it’s been a week since winter quarter started… 3 weeks of winter break went by so fast! Here are some of the stuff I did over break that I didn’t already talk about.

I got a perm the weekend after finals. I went to Star East Hair & Beauty for the digital perm and it was awesome. Yufei paid for me as a part of my Christmas present :)

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Lunch at the Twitter office with some of my friends from dental school. I miss being able to go to Twitter for lunch any time I wanted before school started.

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Girls date with my big sib from Delts, Jenny. We went to Revel Spa to get our nails done. Like I said before, they have a lot of Chanel polishes, which you don’t see at many salons, and the interior is so peaceful and relaxing. Definitely a nice treat! Afterwards we went to the Haight and got dinner at Parada 22. So much fun!

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So here’s something I thought I’d never say: I joined a fraternity! To be more specific, I’m now a member of Delta Sigma Delta, the largest and oldest international professional dental fraternity. I learned very quickly that at UCSF, almost everyone joins one of the three frats on campus, not only for the social aspect but also because they offer a lot of academic help and support. So me and most of my close friends at UCSF joined Delts because they’re awesome.

We had our initiation dinner at L’Olivier about a month ago. It was so nice to see everyone dressed up all fancy after seeing them in scrubs all the time at school.

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My Delts family! My big sib Jenny couldn’t make it that night, so here I am with my grand-big and great-grand-big, and my “cousin” (we share the same grand-big).

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My extended family! It’s a pretty complicated family tree that I still haven’t quite figured out haha.

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Notice Dr. Ho in the last photo. I talked about his absolutely amazing keynote speech at our white coat ceremony here, and I feel so proud and fortunate that Dr. Ho is a Delts member! Apparently everyone else also feels the same, which resulted in the photo below:

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Dr. Ho with almost all the D1 Delts!

After dinner, a bunch of the D1’s went to the movies to see Catching Fire (which was awesome and so much better than the first movie). It was such a fun night!

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