Millennial In Medicine: Nicole F. 3rd Yr Dental Student
Dental student by day, page at a library, researcher, etsy shop owner, gardener and avid audiobook reader by night. These are a few of the many activities that I enjoy doing while being a busy dental student during the day which I basically consider a full time job. I am a third year dental student about to go into my fourth year at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine. I don’t want to sound clique but I genuinely believe I was destined to go here. My parents met at Stony Brook University in a calculus class and the rest is history. I attended Stony Brook for my undergraduate career and without hesitation I applied to the Stony Brook dental school as soon as I had the chance. My brother, who is 2 years younger than me, also attended Stony Brook as an undergrad but he broke the trend and he is now at Drexel Medical School in Philadelphia. I literally grew up 6 minutes from campus! After my interview at Stony Brook Dental, I was confident I had earned my place. I was however waitlisted, disheartened but still hopeful. After 2 rough weeks, I was eventually accepted to be a member of the class of 2021. I was ecstatic, there were so many opportunities that I had thanks to growing up in the area that I didn’t have to give up. I could continue with the research that I had been working on as an undergraduate with a general dentist faculty since my junior year as an undergrad. I could keep my job at a public library that I had been working since I was in high school (I have now been working there for 8 years part time). I could keep my pet sitting business and etsy shop active. I could still live at home, sleep in my own bed and not have to pay for rent. I could not be more excited to start the newest chapter of my life.
I honestly did not have a difficult time adapting to dental school for some reason. I think it helps that I am not obsessed with getting A’s. Let me tell you, I did not get many at all in my first year at Stony Brook Dental. This is not because I was not trying hard, it was because I chose to balance my life very differently from my peers. Not to discredit any of them of course, but I was and still am more interested in many things that make me who I am as a person besides just dental school. Yes, dental school is extremely important to me in ways that I cannot even express, but it is not the only thing that makes me, well me. I work my library job 1-2 times a night during the week and over the weekends which adds up to about 8-12 hours a week. I stay extremely late after classes sometimes to complete my research project to get the results in time to attend certain research meetings. I would wake up exceptionally early before my 8AM class just to take care of a few animals as my pet sitting job allowed. Other nights I would stay up late to crochet a mini elephant that I had sold on my etsy shop which needed to be shipped the next day. All of these activities have taught me what working hard truly feels like, and it is very rewarding.
My love for research was just getting started when I was an undergraduate. As I mentioned before, I was able to continue working with the general dentist faculty that I started working with during my junior year. Once I was in dental school however she gave me a more difficult project with some new technology called CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided software). This technology was somewhat new to dentistry at the time and currently is a prominent feature in the dental school and many dental practices. Lucky for me, I have mastered this technology and was able to have a greater understanding of it moving forward with my schooling. I have scanned, designed and milled over 120 crowns for my research. I look forward to the first clinic single unit crown case that I will get to scan the patients mouth and design my first crown with the software instead just doing it in the lab on a cast! Due to my research experience, I started looking into even more opportunities that I could involve myself with. I was excited to discover that Stony Brook offers a program where I can pursue my Masters in Oral Biology and Pathology while earning my DDS degree. At this point in time I have completed all the Masters classes and research requirements. Now I just have to embark on the daunting journey of writing and defending my thesis. However, that is a problem for this summer, along with hopefully being able to take the second part of my boards!
Another aspect of my role at the dental school is my work study position. I have worked closely with the lab technicians in the new, innovative CIDT lab at Stony Brook University that has come a long way. This beautiful lab came to fruition in the past year and houses many different scanners, milling units, 3D printing units and other state of the art technology. I was essential in helping order and design the organizational portion of the lab with regards to lab work and workflow and was an integral part of the team for coming up with workflow and CIDT policies that we compiled into a handbook. I have extensive knowledge with the workflow of the lab and have observed the duties of the lab technician which I think will overall help me with understanding their point of view and overall how I can better communicate with my lab technicians in the future which is necessary for succeeding as a dentist. Lab technicians are the individuals who design and fabricate everything that we do in dentistry! My background in the CAD/CAM technology specifically helps me in understanding the processes that take place in the CIDT. From working in the CIDT through my lunch or during my class breaks, I have spent a lot of time helping the lab technicians out and am proud to be a member of their team.
At the end of the day, one of my favorite things to do is to listen to audio books. What I enjoy the most about them is that you can literally be doing anything else while you are listening to one. I can be doing most of my other hobbies while also having a good book being read to me. This way, I feel like I have been TWICE as productive as I would have been otherwise. Books provide me with an escape, they are able to take you anywhere you want if you need a break from what is going on in your life. This is probably why I find solace in my job at the library. It is my place of focus, reflection and growth. It allows me to slow down and really appreciate the world around me. The tangible feeling a book in your hands creates a whole different mindset just as working with my hands does in dentistry. If you’re going to take away one thing from this post let it be this: take a break, don’t lose sight of who you are, do something that makes you happy and do it with all your might. Yes, you are a medical professional, just don’t forget everything else you are too!