The Board Life
Where would one find a second year dental student during the winter semester? Would you begin looking at the local hangouts? Maybe you should start searching downtown? You might be able to catch one enjoying some nightlife or you could try and spy one at a movie theater. How about a basketball game? You could most surely find one up north at a resort shredding up the mountain.
Right? Those would be your first guesses.
You would, in fact, be quite off and you would spend most of your winter semester searching because they will be spending their free time holed up in a library, coffee shop, or bedroom studying until they can no longer make out any difference between the little black squiggles on their computer screens. This anti-social behavior can only be explained by one dreaded competency examination. The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part I. This 400 question test consumes our lives for at least 2 months during our second year of school and the majority of students choose to take this examination by the end of February so that they may enjoy a week of freedom and sunshine, our beloved spring break. The Pass/Fail nature of the test tricks first-year students into a false sense of security because you “only have to pass”. In reality you over-study and make sure that you understand the 3rd step in the urea cycle because you never want to be “that guy” who took the test too lightly. Now six months and $400 later you are still holed up in the library going over everything one more time. Yeah, don’t be that guy.
In reality, this test is manageable even though it is asking you to recall any and every rat fact from your first two years of didactic education. The trick is to keep a positive attitude and slightly adjust your routine to accommodate your intense studying sessions. For example, date night with your significant other turns into a rousing game of “let’s sit two feet from each other and not talk all night!” If you are into Netflix and have shows that you watch religiously, prepare to inflict some cruel reward system upon yourself. Half of a practice exam, or half of a section of dental decks means that you can reward yourself with 30 minutes of your favorite show. Frank Underwood actually shows up in my nightmares these days. Friday night has now turned into Friday night class. No, not the cool kind of lock-in or school dance, groups of girls and boys actually talk with each other here … in the library. You can find us talking about the course of the facial nerve. You get out for the weekend and head right back to the books so that you can get to bed before midnight.
Make a few of these minor sacrifices and you are on the golden track to attaining every second-year dental student’s favorite letter. P. As in, Pass. As in, congratulations, now you can focus on scheduling your first patients for their prophylaxis and you can get to work making up all of those general assist sessions that you put off. Also, don’t forget that you are in the most rewarding career in the country and you are in the most formative years of your life. Take advantage of this time. These years will be over before you know it and you will look back on them fondly. Take the time to slow down and look at the big picture. You are part of a privileged few that has the power, granted by society, to impact the overall health and well being of your community in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle every day. Okay, your 30 minutes is up. Time to get back to the Urea Cycle.
Logan White is a D2 student who is finally free to do all those fun things- like write a blog post- now that he has taken his NBDE Part 1!