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A Day in the Life of a D1: Beginning the Journey

October 9, 2012

Baby Jack, an Honorary D1

His parents, Matt and Joanna

My fellow D1s and I began our career at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry with an 8 week summer term.  While Head and Neck Anatomy was the biggest challenge of the summer, the 26.5 credits on the schedule for the fall semester seemed even scarier. In addition, my wife Joanna gave birth to a son, Jack, on July 31, so I’ve been learning how to be a dental student and a father at the same time. We’ve completed just over a month of the semester, so this is a good time to give a rundown of what life is like as a D1 and a father at UMSOD.

I usually get up around 6 a.m., either to my alarm or to a hungry baby down the hall.  I’ll eat breakfast, get ready, play with Jack for a few minutes, and then I’m off to school. Once at school, I head to Room G378, which I found out it pretty much our home as a D1.  It’s a cozy, yet spacious lecture hall where we’ve learned to share the outlets for laptop charging and found that the feedback from the microphones are an annoying, yet effective way to keep us awake.

Our mornings are usually full of didactic courses which have been pretty material rich so far, with Cell and Molecular Biology, Infection and Immunity, and Cariology courses providing the bulk of our lecture time.  We get a break at noon, and have an hour to do whatever we please.  Depending on the day, I usually will spend it just relaxing and having lunch with classmates.  If we have a test  or quiz in the afternoon, I might have a quick cram session to squeeze in all those final details.

After lunch, we are either back in G378 or in the Sim Clinic.  I’ve really enjoyed our afternoons in the Sim Clinic because we get to work with our hands to learn the basics of the things we will be doing in the future.  On Friday afternoons, Dr. Vivas constantly reminds us to “Wax and relax” in Dental Anatomy as we prepare for our practical on waxing tooth #20.  On Tuesday afternoons, our Clinical Foundations course has had us learning how to do alginate impressions and making casts, applying rubber dams, and drilling Form 1 preps.   We’ve also been upstairs in the real clinics assisting D3s and D4s a few times already.

We are done at 5 p.m. and I’m usually itching to get home to see my family.  I usually spend a few hours playing with Jack, eating dinner, and spending time with my wife.  After that, I usually spend anywhere between 2-4 hours each night studying, and then by midnight, I’m in bed so I can recharge and do it all over again.

It’s been an awesome first month of the semester, and I’m excited that we have a great D1 class.  We have an exciting group of future dentists who are willing to help each other out by making and posting study guides, creating class calendars so we stay on top of our classes, and making sure everyone has a chance to blow off steam on the weekends. Our class facebook page is full of messages and invitations for events on the weekends, football tailgates, and anything else that might be going on.  Our Flossoraptors intramural sports teams have already gotten off to a hot start with the soccer team winning a championship this summer and the softball, volleyball, and kickball teams playing well so far this fall.  As a member of the softball team, I’ve enjoyed the break from the studying to go out and have some fun.  Things have been good so far, and we’ll see what the next few months bring!

Matt Van Beek is a D1 who looks remarkably well rested and ready to get it done!  Congrats to Matt and his wife, Joanna on baby Jack!~ Editor

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