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Day in the Life of the Not-So-Typical, Typical D2

February 25, 2015
Groundhog Day

“Do you know what today is? Today is tomorrow. It happened.”

5:15 am; my alarm jostles me from the sleep it seems I just entered, still weary from the week past and the weekend that just ended. This is my perpetual groundhog day (the movie recounts the events of a misanthropic reporter doomed to relive a single day for eternity) , a movie familiar to other children of the 80’s and 90’s, which likely escapes the minds of my classmate a decade my junior. I quietly creep to the shower guided by the light of my cell phone as to not awaken my sleeping family nor my tired eyes. A quick check of my sleeping family and I leave for the day not to return until 6:30pm that night. I typically arrive at the bus stop around 6:45 to catch  the 6:55 bus and arrive on campus around 7:20. This 40 minutes before class is a CRUCIAL point in my day, the last chance to complete any homework or a last minute review for a morning quiz. I have found it is necessary to review MULTIPLE calendars for clinic assignments, personal events and patient planning as most school events are not located in one convenient place.

Most days start at 8am with class after class of oral surgery, oral pathology, occlusion to name a few up until noon when the last few drops of coffee have left our system and sleep seem inevitable.  We have lunch, a recharge for many- catch up with friends, get coffee or take the occasional nap in the commons. The afternoon is a blur. A hustle to leave our 1pm class to make it upstairs by 2pm to prepare for the afternoons patients.  We are fortunate to have early exposure to patients during the winter of our D2 year with a small patient pool and clinic days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. While a simple exam and cleaning may not seem intimidating, the preparation and pre-ordering of materials can make the difference between an efficient and thorough exam or leaving the dental school at 5:30 and catching a late crowded bus home.

I typically arrive back home around 6:30 and absolutely love coming home to my family. Both my boys rush to the stairs when they hear me come in and my wife breathes a sigh of relief from her 12 hours of entertaining two toddlers at home! Dinner and play time ensue and I catch up on the events of the day before hitting the books at 9pm. I sequester myself at the kitchen table from 9-10:30pm when my eyes betray me and I have no energy left to read and call it a night.  5:15 am and it starts all over again……

For those considering the pursuit of dental education later in life I can attest to your ability to succeed. You can find balance between life, school and family but this MANDATES an ability to budget and plan your time. There WILL be times when you miss out on milestones in your family including first words and steps, preschool events and precious time with loved ones.  You may not be involved with large social outings or find time for extracurricular activities BUT you will have achieved something truly impressive, a better life for your and your family. Dental education isn’t easy, even without the responsibilities of being a mother or a father.  I am here to say that with the support of your spouse and family, you can indeed succeed.

Brandon Churchman is a D2 who works most weekends in area emergency departments as a physician assistant and lives with his wife and two sons.

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