About the Author: My name is Amanjot and I'm a first-year dental student. I am the founder of a non-profit organization @weh_organization which promotes the rise of women in healthcare. You can reach out to me on Instagram @yourfuture_dds to follow me along my journey on becoming Dr. Amanjot Singh, DDS!
Every dental, optometry, pharmacy, physician assistant, or other medical student looking to enter the healthcare profession should look into a variety of necessary tools to help foster success throughout their journey. As I begin my dental school studies, I wanted to share with you the top 10 things that I was advised would help me as I pursue my healthcare education.
1. Pair of Scrubs
Having a few pairs of scrubs is a must for all students. My medical school requires students to either wear business casual clothing or scrubs for labs. I recommend to all students going into this path to find whether your school has a color code since some institutes prefer certain colors to be worn over others. And of course, make sure to check out Care+Wear Scrubs as they have an amazing collection of scrubs and are known for their excellent mission!
2. Fast-paced and good technology
It cannot be stressed enough that having good technological devices are necessary and important, especially in today's education with the transition to e-textbooks. My tablet and laptop have helped me submit work on time. I prefer using my laptop for attending classes and listening to lectures, and my tablet for taking hand-written notes you should buy technology that matches the requirements put forth by your school since there might be some software needed to be downloaded.
3. The Perfect Study Space
Some students will end their day late due to night classes and might find themselves distracted or unmotivated. You need to cultivate the PERFECT space in which you can study and focus after your long day of classes. I suggest you store your phone or other distractions away so you can successfully study.
4. Notepad/Calendar while having a well-planned schedule
A calendar or a notepad is important to help assure that you do not fall behind on your assignments. I have been using the Reminder app on my phone for 4-5 years. It has always helped me stay on track and submit my assignments on time before the deadline. You have to make sure that you are creating a well-planned schedule the same way that you would be in the professional setting.
5. Pens and Pencil
Like every school, you must have pens and pencils ready and with you to be prepared for the day and take notes if you do not use a tablet. Having extra pens and pencils along with some highlights might be important for many since some prefer highlighting, drawing, or taking notes in different colors to help group different topics together.
6. Comfortable Shoes
During medical or dental school, it is really important for all students to have comfortable closed-toe shoes to protect themselves and those around them from hazardous chemicals or sharp materials. You will also be spending several days and hours in labs.
7. Storage Organizers for Laboratory Equipments
Often, students are provided with instruments at the beginning of their classes. These instruments will be used for every lab and practical. However, the majority of them will need to be stored in lockers provided by your school. Unfortunately, the lockers may not be sufficiently large to accommodate everything in an organized fashion. Thus, buying small organizers or "boxes" to keep all your instruments together.
At times, the lecture content could be difficult and one may need to consult external sources to enhance their knowledge. In such cases, resources such as Youtube, Khan Academy. I watch "Ninja Nerd" videos on YouTube, which are highly effective for some of my courses including embryology.
9. Medical Posters
You will be enrolled in such courses which will require you to know the full body structure, the eye or mouth structure, etc. Hence, it is really important for you to know the different parts as well as have something which you can always look at. A poster, such as an anatomy poster, will allow you to visually see what you are asked.
10. Shadowing experience
Although it is not necessary to have prior experience, I believe it is important to have an idea of the profession before setting a foot in it. I shadowed for two years with my dentist and have to say that I had the most enjoyable time. I was able to see the different procedures done by a dentist and all of their responsibilities in a day. It allowed me to enhance my knowledge of science as well as make a decision for my future career.
Building a Support Network
Now I want to touch on study habits and building a support network to help you persevere.
1. Study In a Way That Is Comfortable To You
This is important to understand that the method of studying used by your peers might not be suitable for you. It can be intimidating, but remember to not be ashamed nor shy about using your preferred method. I think that all students have their own study methods, whether that is using flashcards, drawing, highlighting, summarizing notes, memorizing, etc.
Often, teachers tell me that the way some classmates study is not going to work for them in the future. However, I have been using the same method throughout my educational career which has led to a better me.
2. Give time to yourself
Although for most, this path is an important moment, many forget to reserve personal time for themselves and exhaust themselves. Before starting this new chapter of mine, I thought that the only thing healthcare students do is study. But I was wrong! I saw many students, upper-year mostly, that spent their time with their families & friends, watching movies, eating at restaurants, etc. So there is enough time for you to spend moments with yourself and your loved one.
3. Have a community of friends for support
Many of us have been building a community of friends to spend our time with, to study together, and help each other. It is necessary to have someone to go to for support when you are having a hard time. It is equally necessary for you to have a community to reach out to when you need help with your studies. Ever since I got admitted into my graduate studies, I have been trying to find friends online with whom I can share my thoughts and with whom I can spend my free time. I assure you that if you have a community built, the experience will be worth remembering.
4. Have a positive mindset
You might find it hard to think positively at first with external pressures, but after you get adapted to the environment, teachers, and study methods, you will see that it is possible. Before starting school, I was really stressed about the credit load for each course, the exam period, and how often I will have to complete quizzes. I said to myself that this is going to be the hardest moment of my life, which in some context is true. However, embarking on this journey with a positive mindset changed a lot of things for me, especially, remembering why I am doing this. Never forget why you have started and chose this pathway and remember you can always do it and reach the last stage of success.
As you embark on this journey or are thinking of starting a new chapter in the future, I wish you good luck and hope for the best. It will be hard at the start, but do not give up.