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Tips for D2s. Hint- You’ll Survive!

September 25, 2012

You are well on your way. You have made it through the chaos of D1 year and are now being rewarded with…more chaos! This fall you will be finishing the didactic systems-based courses that you started this past summer. As you have probably discovered, they are challenging but doable. Continue working hard and soon they will be behind you.

While you will have many classroom-based courses during the Winter Semester, most will seem fairly manageable compared to your previous academic load. However, Dentistry for the Medically Compromised Patient and Diagnostic Sciences III (“Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology”) both cover expansive material and will require extensive memorization and critical thinking. Diligently study for these courses to stay on top of the material. Many questions on the NBDE Part I exam will be covered in these classes, and the material is repeated in future courses, so committing this to long-term memory will also help you succeed throughout dental school (not to mention save lives once you are a practicing dentist).

The newest challenges of this coming year await two or three floors up in the VICs clinics. When you return from break in January you will have a small (roughly 10-15 total) patient pool of your very own. You will be responsible for scheduling them, reminding them, and treating them according to your own treatment plan. Do not waste scheduled clinic time—take the time to appoint your patients over Winter break so that you can hit the ground running. Your grade will be dependent on your number of patient appointments, and many of my classmates struggled to meet their desired number of appointments once patient no-shows factored in. Should this happen to you, work with the D3s and D4s in your clinic and be willing to take referrals for restorations and prophies. The opportunities are there, but you may have to work to get them in order to ensure you earn the grade you want in Comprehensive Care Clinic.


Boards. To many of you this may sound like a four-letter word. You first cared about this roadblock to dental practice when you were interviewing at dental schools and were looking to judge the competency of each university, but since then it has been hidden in the back of your mind. Now that you are finishing the foundational science courses you are likely feeling pressure to quickly pass the test before you forget everything. Relax. You have probably already forgotten most of what you will forget, and it does not need to be a big deal. Almost all of you will pass the test on your first try. Do not misunderstand, you need to study for it, but by now you have learned how to prepare for difficult exams. My classmates studied between two and eight weeks for the exam, with the median being four weeks, and all but one student passed on his or her first attempt. Many students reached the burnout point where they simply could not study any more, but after taking the exam felt like they were over-prepared. Many students sat for the Boards early in the Winter D2 semester, while another wave seemed to take it at the end of May. I found the end of May to be an ideal time because it allowed me to focus on coursework for the winter semester and to cover Oral Pathology in the classroom before sitting for the NBDE. My belief, though, is that you need to figure out what will work best for you, make a plan, and stick to it. Avoid rescheduling your exam to a later date; just get it over with.

Your D2 year will be busy and challenge you in many new ways, but it will also be exciting and rewarding. If you communicate with your professors and fellow students you will have a much easier time; but just as in your first year, you will get out what you put in to it. Work hard and have fun because soon it will be behind you!

David Coviak graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 and worked in IT at Clemson University before returning to UofM to begin dental school in 2010. Now in his third year, he is dedicating himself to spending more time engaging in his hobbies of old.  He also wrote this for the ASDA Newsletter, so keep your eyes peeled for the new one!

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