Day in the Life of a Brazilian Dental Student
The first week in Bauru was spent following around fourth year dental students. The fourth year dental students are actually in their final semester, because summer vacation in Brazil begins in December. I was surprised by how similar dental school is at Faculdade de Odontologia de Bauru Universidade de São Paulo (FOB-USP) and the University of Michigan. At both schools, D1s are busy studying anatomy and going to classes, D2s spend most their time in pre-clinic simulation labs perfecting their skills, D3s are adjusting to full clinic and rotation schedules and D4s are trying to sort out what will come next for them after graduation. In Brazil, dental students begin right out of high school and so it is common for there to be 21 year old dentists. Below is what a typical day looks like for dental students at FOB-USP.
8 AM -12 PM: Class or Clinic. In FOB-USP classes, one professor will speak for approximately four hours. There is usually only one 15-minute break in the middle. In the clinics, the third and fourth year students treat patients on different days. Students are paired with another in their own class and they are assigned to cubes in the clinics. A student will see one of his or her own patients for approximately 2 hours and then assist a classmate for the remaining time. There are separate clinics for oral surgery and emergencies, just like we have at Michigan. Pre-doctoral students at FOB-USP have the opportunity to do a variety of complex surgical procedures, including bone grafting and third molar extractions. In Bauru, faculty periodically walk over to check on students while they are working and to answer questions. They use a less formal system for checking students’ work that we do at Michigan.
12 – 2 PM: Lunch. There is a cafeteria on campus that serves healthy and inexpensive lunches. Most of the students eat there. After lunch, students study in the library, work on research, or relax. Almost all dental students do research at FOB-USP and they are paid for their work.
2 – 6 PM: Class or Clinic. Same as in the morning.
6 PM- 9 PM: Students use this time to do research, finish lab work or to go work out. There is an on-campus gym and outdoor track that a lot of students, faculty, and staff utilize.
9 PM – Dinner. The Brazilians tend to eat late. Many students leave campus on the weekends and so most social gatherings happen during the week. Dental classes are small with fifty students or less and they are very cohesive. For birthday parties or other celebrations, almost everyone attends.
Amy Lesch is a third year dental student.