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tired in clinic in dental school


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I've been pretty exhausted during my first two years of dental school...and now in third year, I'm treating patients.  Due to some unforseen circumstances for the foreseeable future, I'll have to cope with not getting enough rest for the next little while.  So some questions:

1) how have some of you dealt with being tired in clinic?  It's one thing to be tired in class, but another to be tired when working on patients... 

2) maybe fatigue is more manageable in clinic, and not sitting and listening in a lecture?  Or do you find that you actually do forget things, or are slow, or don't work efficiently?

3) More importantly, has anyone ever made mistakes on patients b/c they were tired?

Thanks!

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Hey, I'm in 4th year and I found that regardless of what's happening in my life (sick, sleep deprived, etc.), I'm always focused when I'm in clinic. I think that's mostly because I love clinic and hate lecture, but when a patient is sitting in front of you it's hard to be yawning (and if you are at least it's behind a mask). If you are in a state where you think you'll be doing poor work then maybe you shouldn't be in clinic that day for your patient's sake.

 

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I can definitely relate. 

It's a big jump from reading notes to treating patients.

I'm the type that is more alert when i'm actually doing stuff with my hands and not just sitting there listening to lecture.

I've definitely done some dumb stuff in clinic like take a PA of the wrong side or miss the apex of a root, also forgetting to wash away cavity conditioner before putting on GIC on a tooth....

You're in a learning environment....you'll make mistakes! don't worry about it! you can't be perfect all the time! and patients know that!
I've put in restorations where there's voids everywhere....and overhangs and stuff. 
someone in our year drilled the wrong tooth once....LOL there's tons of stories. 
people were polishing up a restoration and ended up cutting someone's buccal mucosa and the buccal fat pad came out and they fainted!(the student!) 

in terms of being tired....everyone's in the same boat, but you have to make sure you're getting enough rest. I personally make sure I getting at least 6-7 hours per night even if it means I don't finish some things that I planned that day. I feel like it's counterproductive when im tired to go over lecture stuff at 2am. 

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7 hours ago, MDorDDS said:

Also, another question, when you guys started treating patients, how did you manage being able to translate what you learned from notes/books to actually doing that stuff? 

And since we're on the question of fatigue...has anyone ever had that lead to making a mistake?

Thanks again!

A lot of the times you just explain it in lame men's terms. 
for a restoration I personally explain it something like this: 

"i'm cutting away the decayed part of the tooth with this drill. If you're using a slow speed hand piece you tell them you'll just feel some vibrations. 
Then we put on a shaping band to put the filling it. (matrix band or V ring)
We first prepare the teeth with some acids and sticky material so the filling material will stick to teeth"

something like that ^. I find that most patients don't care at all what your saying...
but some are interested. 

6 hours ago, MDorDDS said:

woah!!!!  how...did that end up happening...

no clue...but it did happen...lol

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2 hours ago, malkynn said:

You just learn to manage being tired. 

I've known enough new moms in medicine and dentistry who manage to work on literally minutes of sleep here and there for days on end. They adapt. So do doctors on call, some shifts end up well over 30 hours and they still manage.

It's a learning curve. Being tired doesn't really cause mistakes in and of itself. You just have to double check everything when you know you are tired, it's part of how you adapt. 

I'm not really sure what you are looking for with your question. Yes, you will be tired. Yes, it will suck balls. And yes, you will make mistakes in clinic, because everyone does, even perfectly rested dental students. And YES, some of those mistakes will be terrifying. That's dental school. 

 +1 here

sums it up quite well :)

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Are you tired in a "I feel really drained and fatigued" sort of way? I'd argue that the latter is not really due to clinic. You probably just need to sleep better, eat better, exercise, do something different to keep the energy levels up.

I am more tired as a practicing dentist than I was in school, that's for sure. I'd be able to keep that under better control if I took my own advice. I have adapted; I never feel tired while treating patients, only before and afterward. When actually working, I'm "in the zone" and being busier and taking less breaks actually keeps me going better. If I sit down, or take a break, I become tired.

I think what other people have said about adapting is true. Everyone's threshold is different but you do manage to push that threshold somewhat to the point where you are simply able to deal with it.

Also, re: making mistakes, it happens to all of us. I drilled into wrong tooth once in dental school; luckily I drilled into filling only, noticed my mistake immediately, and my patient was very sweet and good humoured about it. I redid the filling and continued on with what we were actually meant to do that day. I'd say in practice 'mistakes' are more due to your brain being on autopilot vs. being tired--if you've gotten into a groove you're a bit too used to and start neglecting to check things, double check things as you did before. Overconfidence can lead to mistakes, hopefully minor ones.

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  • 2 months later...
On 10/1/2017 at 0:20 PM, cleanup said:

I'd say in practice 'mistakes' are more due to your brain being on autopilot vs. being tired--if you've gotten into a groove you're a bit too used to and start neglecting to check things, double check things as you did before. Overconfidence can lead to mistakes, hopefully minor ones.

But as 3rd yr student, I haven't really gotten used to anything or in a groove yet, so we can't (yet) be on autopilot...

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On 12/4/2017 at 4:50 PM, MDorDDS said:

But as 3rd yr student, I haven't really gotten used to anything or in a groove yet, so we can't (yet) be on autopilot...

Right. I meant later on, when you begin practising.

Sounds like you just need to manage your time a bit better, sleep more, stress less.

If there's fat in your life that you can cut out in order to get more rest and address your priorities better, do it. On top of that, don't deny yourself the time to recharge, chill out, do something that you enjoy for the hell of it, to keep yourself mentally grounded.

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