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D1 Year in the Covid-19 Pandemic:

What has it been like for D1’s starting dental school during a nationwide pandemic?

Every pre-dental has an idea of what they’re looking forward to once they walk into dental school on that first day. Maybe its picking up a dental hand-piece for the first time or perhaps its starting lifelong friendships with new classmates. For me, I was looking forward to both of these, and especially excited about getting to spend time in the pre-clinic. The onset and progression of the Covid-19 Pandemic, of course, has made this a little more difficult. For D1’s, this meant many schedule rearrangements and the transitioning of didactic lecture courses to online.

Now certainly, I and many other D1’s are bummed that the start to our dental careers has not been the traditional experience. However, such is life during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite these challenges, we still were able to have gross anatomy lab in-person and spend time in the pre-clinic getting our feet wet with drilling and waxing. Studying the human body in gross anatomy is not even something I knew we did as dental students, but, it has since become one of my favorite parts of D1 year. How many other people in the world can say they’ve had the opportunity to learn about the human body in this fashion? Furthermore, I’ve learned that drilling and waxing are not as easy as they seem. Admittedly, I was kind of hoping I’d be a natural at these skills and pick them up right away. I have since learned this definitely is not the case, and that’s okay! Even I was amazed at how far my skills have come from the start of the Fall semester to now. Just being able to work in the pre-clinic has made the dental dream finally feel like it’s becoming a reality and I’m definitely looking forward to getting back into the pre-clinic to continue making big strides.

As January comes to a close, and thus a month of online learning with it, I write this blog in the same location where I took all of my classes this past month, at a folding table in my kitchen. A table I had originally purchased with the intent of jumping through once the Bills won the Superbowl this year, but now it looks like this table might be sticking around quite some time (sad). Although there have been challenges to remote learning, it is all part of the journey and it just makes the return to in-person learning that much more exciting. In fact, I really have to say that the UB Dental Administration has done a great job making changes and rearranging our course schedule to ensure we don’t miss out on any of our academic coursework.

We as dental students pride ourselves as being adaptable and persevering, and I never expected dental school to be a cake-walk. I knew there would be hurdles and the coronavirus is just one of them. From my first year so far, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to dig down deep and focus on the task at hand. If that leads you to a max-volume jam session of Life is Good by Future ft. Drake in the shower or if it takes you on a magical trip to 7-Eleven® at the ripe hour of 5:00am to buy one of those life-changing $5.55 hot and ready pizzas, then so be it. It’s all part of being on the journey and finding your frequency. In the wise words of Matthew McConaughey: “Sometimes we find our frequency by holding on to a moral bottom line in the midst of chaos. [But,] sometimes we find it by breaking the rules and running the damn red light to get our ass home.” Now honestly, I have no idea what that really means, but it makes me fired up to become a dentist. And after all, that’s all that really counts.

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