As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to education. I am a firm believer that this virus is real and should be taken seriously, but it doesn’t change the fact that it has affected each and every one of us, especially in dental school. Our school went remote in March of 2020 like so many others around the country, and as our education continued, unfortunately our time in the pre-clinic did not. In the best interest of our students, faculty, and patients, pre-clinic courses came to a halt and Zoom courses became the new normal. As healthcare providers, we worked to stop the spread by staying home, avoiding large gatherings, and wearing masks. This was the inevitable future for our schooling, and one that I am proud we all took so seriously. However, as my time away from practicing grew, so did my anxiety about moving up into clinic. The start of my D3 year was right around the corner and I started to doubt my abilities in the wake of the pandemic. Were the hundreds of hours of practice I had put in over the last two years enough? Am I really ready for this?
As New York States’ cases began to drop, life slowly went back to “normal” and my journey upstairs into the clinic had begun. My first day of assisting was a rush of emotions, I was excited to continue my journey in a profession that I am so passionate about and yet worried I would not be prepared due to the pandemic. As everyones’ first day in clinic, it was filled with a lot of questions, help from our wonderful assistants, and guidance from the D4s. The more procedures I saw, the more confident I felt. I was aware of the next steps and necessary instruments; I was even getting familiar with our online charting system! Five weeks later, I can look back and say that I was more prepared than I originally thought; I have my dental education and hard work ethic to thank for that.
This pandemic has forever changed not only my education, but our entire system of learning. We have found a new normal through online meetings and value the time we spend together in clinic, even under two masks and a face shield. From taking radiographs, to cutting crowns and pulling teeth, my latest rotations have made my clinic experience everything I had hoped and more. As I relax with my homemade latte in hand, I am ready to start a long day of online classes from the comfort of my own home. I no longer have to worry about what I am going to wear or traffic I may face on my way. Education may never be the same, but maybe it’s for the better.