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knrosh93

How Busy Is Life As A Dental Student?

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I was looking at the exam schedules for Western and U of T, and those schedules were kind of intimidating.

Are students given sufficient amount of time to study for those exams like undergrads or are we expected to know everything after looking at it only once?

Also, do students have some free time when not at school?

Finally, does school really run from 8-5 everyday?

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Dental school is a LOT busier than undergrad. You aren't expected to know everything after looking at it once, but finding the time and energy to study everything can be challenging, so time management is key. I'm finishing up 2nd year and I can tell you that 12 courses per semester this year (yes, not a typo) isn't easy, we are in the middle of finals and it's exhausting. 

There is some free time, but mostly you find that after being done classes (usually 5pm) you either have to study, do some assignment, do some lab work, or practice your clinical skills - or a combination of these. Many weekends are also spent in the lab.

Yes, it is 8-5pm everyday. Technically we get one "half-day" in 1st and 2nd year, but I just ended up using that time to catch up on lab work. 3rd and 4th year are 8-5 everyday because clinic closes at 5pm.

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No, at least not at my faculty. I doubt that that's the case elsewhere though. You are automatically registered to all the courses you'll be taking that year. No choice regarding what courses or what times.

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Dental school is a LOT busier than undergrad. You aren't expected to know everything after looking at it once, but finding the time and energy to study everything can be challenging, so time management is key. I'm finishing up 2nd year and I can tell you that 12 courses per semester this year (yes, not a typo) isn't easy, we are in the middle of finals and it's exhausting. 

There is some free time, but mostly you find that after being done classes (usually 5pm) you either have to study, do some assignment, do some lab work, or practice your clinical skills - or a combination of these. Many weekends are also spent in the lab.

Yes, it is 8-5pm everyday. Technically we get one "half-day" in 1st and 2nd year, but I just ended up using that time to catch up on lab work. 3rd and 4th year are 8-5 everyday because clinic closes at 5pm.

 

Thank you so much for your reply BScDMD, that was super helpful :) I was always wondering, if class is 8am-5pm, isn't the maximum you can study per day (besides weekends) basically 4 hours (i.e. 6pm-10pm -- accounting for a break after class and good sleep lol)? And if so, do you think it's enough? I guess I'm just wondering about this b/c I feel like a lot of people in undergrad study more than this per day and the workload in dental school is much more than in undergrad, so I'm wondering how people in d-school keep up with the workload given that there's not much time to study after class lol

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The thing is that some of the classes are about teaching the principles behind practical clinical skills. Take operative dentistry, for example. This is the class where they basically teach you the principles of a cavity design to remove caries and restore the tooth (and a few other things, but lets keep it simple). So, for classes like these, reading the notes actually doesn't take a lot of time, what takes time is all the time you need to spend in pre-clinic to get those hand skills. On the other hand, you have a course like oral pathology, which is a complete "sit down and read" type of course. What it comes down to is where your strengths lie. Some people need to spend more time in the lab than others, some need to sit down and memorize material for longer. So far it has been a stressful 2 years, but it's manageable! 

 

And to add to that: some people show up to the lab at 5am on a weekend, or even weekdays before class, to get some stuff done. Some people work on lab stuff in the evening until the lab closes (12am). So there's quite a bit you can get done. As for a "good sleep" some weeks are better than others...

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Great topic and responses! I wish I could contribute but I'm only beginning 1st year in August as well.

I suppose I have a question though. Do many classes test often? Is it like midterms and finals or testing in a regular basis? I'd assume it varies for courses and colleges, but still figured I'd ask.

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It varies with courses. Some courses have a few quizzes, midterm(s), and a final. Some just a midterm and a final. Some a midterm, a final, and practical exams. Some classes have written assignments you need to hand in, some have practical assignments. It's all over the place.

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The thing is that some of the classes are about teaching the principles behind practical clinical skills. Take operative dentistry, for example. This is the class where they basically teach you the principles of a cavity design to remove caries and restore the tooth (and a few other things, but lets keep it simple). So, for classes like these, reading the notes actually doesn't take a lot of time, what takes time is all the time you need to spend in pre-clinic to get those hand skills. On the other hand, you have a course like oral pathology, which is a complete "sit down and read" type of course. What it comes down to is where your strengths lie. Some people need to spend more time in the lab than others, some need to sit down and memorize material for longer. So far it has been a stressful 2 years, but it's manageable! 

 

And to add to that: some people show up to the lab at 5am on a weekend, or even weekdays before class, to get some stuff done. Some people work on lab stuff in the evening until the lab closes (12am). So there's quite a bit you can get done. As for a "good sleep" some weeks are better than others...

 

Thank you so much BScDMD!! :) That makes much more sense about how some courses don't require as much reading/memorization b/c they're based on clinical skills. But also, that's pretty intense about some people coming in at 5am and leaving at 12am haha! Sounds like you need to be super efficient and on top of your time management to keep up with the schedule :). Thank you so much again for taking the time to write this out :) 

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Thank you so much BScDMD!! :) That makes much more sense about how some courses don't require as much reading/memorization b/c they're based on clinical skills. But also, that's pretty intense about some people coming in at 5am and leaving at 12am haha! Sounds like you need to be super efficient and on top of your time management to keep up with the schedule :). Thank you so much again for taking the time to write this out :)

 

 

No problem! I'm happy to help! I went into dentistry not having a clue what school would be like and I would've appreciated the opportunity to ask someone these questions.

I'm also using this to procrastinate studying for my partial dentures final tomorrow haha

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I have a friend who has graduated dentistry and watching his workload and time scheduling was astounding... assuming you can be done at 10pm is not realistic... he would put in the 8 to 5 in class, spend on average 2-3 hours in simulation clinic most evenings, and when exam time came near went for weeks on end with hardly any sleep at all to just fit in the studying --- He said that his routine was pretty standard amongst his classmates. So clearly way way more demanding than undergrad!!

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I would agree with BScDMD, the learning curve from undergrad to dental school is STEEP. Lots of material to absorb across a multitude of subjects. Its also a ton of fun and a great challenge that forces you to push yourself.  

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It's almost 8-5 every day, but there are times you start later 9 or 10, but usually always finish at 5.

Yes coming home to study after that is a big challenge, especially if you're living on your own and need to cook, sometimes clean or do dishes or laundry as well. That's the biggest adjustment you need to make to dental school.

Weekends are key to catch up on work.

That being said, exams usually come as waves so you will have time to days off and not do as much work. You also don't need to work as hard and memorize everything cuz unlike undergrad you don't need to aim for 90s.

I really like to be involved in extra-curriculars. I play on 2-3 intramural teams and I'm involved in school organizations as well that require me to stay after school. The way I managed to keep up with academics and do all of this is to drop my sleep time from 7-8 hours to 6 hours, and sometimes even 5 hours during exam times. That isn't for everyone but not everyone needs to be extremely involved.

Key thing is to keep that balance. If all your focused on is school, you won't enjoy your experience, you will be overwhelmed. If you do keep that balance, you'll feel like you made one of the best career choices ever!

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Thanks for all the input! I live with a younger sibling and in undergrad I was able to get home and cook dinner most evenings...guess that's going to have to change.

Already have Netflix handy though =P

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Great tips and insight everyone!

 

Although I must admit, the morbid Netflix and horror film cathartic experiences were a little alarming!  :(

 

 

Don't worry too much about it. It sucks in the moment, but everyone is in the same boat as you, and you laugh looking back on it. Dental school is a great experience, stresses and all!

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I absolutely agree that it's a bonding experience. I've made some life-long friendships in the last 2 years. You meet a lot of different people with the same interests as yourself and you become weirdly morbid together haha
I find that the biggest source of stress has nothing to do with the workload, but it is the sheer amount of BS that you have to deal with in regards to the faculty itself (some policies, some staff, some profs) - I'm sure these issues vary from faculty to faculty, and province to province, but I'm also sure they all have them. Would you agree malkynn?

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